Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What a long, strange trip it's been

After years in the patch; I've been doing some reflecting. Like a lot of other gate guards we weren't sure how long this gig might last or how long we might stay. The horror stories we had heard about the South Texas heat were somewhat exaggerated; although it does occasionally get uncomfortably hot. The stories about the dust and mud were true; especially the dust getting into every nook and cranny of the RV. I think we were preconditioned by the struggle we had undergone trying to survive by workamping. Anything that promised decent wages appealed to us. We pulled into the Gate Guard Services yard with less than fifty bucks between us. Time management is the key to survival as a gate guard as far as we are concerned. We can only do this job for so long before a break is needed. We know better than to let ourselves get burned out. Either way, we still have folks that can't even make a week down here. Right now, finances and future plans only allow us to take an extended period of time off about once a year. The grand plan is to rotate out of Texas during those hot summer months and gate guard during the winter. As a lot of my dear readers know, that is all dependent on how well oil prices rebound and the general health of the economy. It has been a tense, worrisome period in the patch since oil prices plummeted. Regardless, we are well liked and respected and plan to remain in gate guarding till my health fails and/or we're shown the door.
Along the way, during this journey, we have found out a lot about ourselves, tested our mettle and learned a ton of things. To me, the main thing that thwarts the success of many a gate guard is the realization that (in most cases) one of them must be on site at all times. After all this time, we still revel in the novelty of being able to go out together. Even being in the same vehicle together is a simple pleasure. Some folks just cannot abide not being able to enjoy simple things together. Add in split shifts and not sleeping together and you have the potential for disaster. We have a credo "think about the money". For the most part we are paid a tremendous amount of money for what we do. I like to say all things in life are like a circle. This has had special meaning in our work as gate guards. We have suffered tremendously on some of the most challenging gates you can imagine. I won't bore you with details; but we have been richly rewarded for our efforts. For almost a year we have been working pipeline and construction gates. Compared to a frack, this is like a walk in the park. We have little or no night traffic and weekends are very light. Traffic is so light that it allows one of us to take on relief work and twelve hour gates, greatly padding our income. Those of you that turned your back on this kind of work after they led you down a bumpy caliche road, out in the middle of nowhere, might want to think about that, 
You know you have been in the patch for a while when you recognize and have been to places like Carrizo Springs, Los Angeles (no. not that one silly) Christine, Cotulla and Gonzales. If some one asks us to meet them at the courthouse in Tilden we don't need directions. You know it's been a long strange trip when someone says; "Take I 410 to 16, go through Poteet and Jourdanton, and turn right on CR 140 and go 2 miles and we'll meet you", and you immediately know where to go.

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