Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Changing Face of Gate Guarding

Every endeavor and job evolves over time. Rule changes, environment changes, pay changes (hopefully up), uniform changes; you name it and all of us have probably experienced them. As my dear readers know I have chronicled how much the face of gate guarding has evolved since those heady "wild west days". I, for one, enjoyed the craziness. We had utter chaos going on; I suspect much like the days of the gold rushes of yore. There were people that had no business, much less the qualifications, to be out here. That included gate guards, by the way. If you could fog a mirror and understand basic questions in English, Armenian, Spanish or whatever language, you could secure a CDL. Nepotism ran rampant, feeding the good old boy network. Caterers were everywhere and food and drink flowed. We had drilling, fracking and production running willy-nilly all over Texas. Dusters be damn, let's continue drilling! Eventually some organization took over and fracking companies caught up to the drilled holes, followed by organized flowback and production. All of this was because of stratospheric oil prices, which eventually were choked by OPEC. The road might go on forever, but the party had to end in the patch. (apologies to Robert Earl Keen)  I remember sitting for a week or two with nary a visitor after drilling had completed. Hell, we were even forgotten on a gate once! Those things rarely happen anymore in the brave new world of sub $100 a barrel oil. If there is a day or two gap between operations anymore, the entire gate guarding ensemble is pulled off the gate. No easy task for both the gate guard and his or hers security company. A revolution is occurring, with more and more guard shacks taking over gates normally manned by a couple in an RV. Used to be you could get a security job over the phone. We even completed the whole process via the mail and Fed Ex when we started. Now security companies have the luxury to pick and choose who they want on their gates. Those guards with a "past" that burned their bridges are slowly being ousted and having trouble securing work. In a way it is good for the profession, as professionalism is always appreciated by the suits in corporate. That won't keep me from reminiscing about the camaraderie of following a rig and running balls to the wall 28 hours a day. We once drilled a hole, including setup and tear down, in about a week. We went from spud to TD in about three days! I have an idea that I witnessed history in the making and it will probably never happen again in my lifetime.

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