Sunday, November 13, 2016

Getting Off the Merry Go Round

I kind of wandered through life. I grew up in the sixties and seventies, just as life long professions started to die out. I was also born with a wanderlust and insatiable curiosity. After a stint in the Marines I tried several professions and finally ended up in the airline industry. That was at the cusp of upheaval in the business when the government deregulated it. Start up airlines sprung up like weeds and stalwarts like TWA and Pam Am faded away. It was difficult to maintain employment at one particular entity. About the only thing I got out of the airlines industry was realizing that I enjoyed managing and leading a group of people in pursuit of a common goal. I also was woefully inept at the politics which are part and parcel of life in business. When I had had enough I found what seemed to be one of the few professions that would take someone in their fifties and train them and put them to work. I drove eighteen wheelers for the next ten years till my heart started to go south. As I recovered in a recliner Missy started packing up the house and we decided to semi retire and work out of the RV; something that is known as workamping. I cannot speak for everyone, but to succeed in workamping you have to have supplemental income. Most campground/workamping opportunities will not employ you full time to avoid having to treat you like an employee. It turned out to be a love hate relationship; I loved what we were doing but I hated nearly starving to death to do it. We had heard rumors of work as gate guards in the oil patch of South Texas. We were terrified that we might end up in the boonies somewhere in South Texas with our last $20 in our pockets. Research finally led me to Andy of fame. Through him we gained the confidence and knowledge needed to get licensed and started as gate guards. I have endeavored to pay if forward since then and now, over six years later, we find ourselves reflecting about the journey.

This is our experience and my opinion(s). You truly need a boatload of patience, a sense of adventure and some money in your pocket to become a gate guard. There is so much more help out there these days (in comparison to when we started), especially on social media. It has also taken on some aspects of a regular job in that it has become more and more competitive and demands on guards have risen. It is no longer the "gold rush" and "wild west" of years past. There are simply too many quality guards available for too few openings. Full time guards are especially revered and usually get first dibs on any openings, further limiting the available gates. If you're determined to become a part of this demanding and rewarding profession I recommend that you establish a relationship with an active guard(s) and mine their knowledge to get started. I DO NOT recommend that you come down to Texas and jump in, expecting to go to work right away. It just doesn't work like that; especially these days. We have made a great many sacrifices in pursuit of decent wages and a sense of stability. Our weekends and holidays are non existent and long stretches away from family and friends have become the norm. We do, however, get to meet some of the most intriguing people in the world, get to commune with mother nature and learn the invaluable lesson of how to live off the grid. If you want to get off the merry go round and make some money having an adventure, gate guarding might be the answer for you.


  1. I think one day we will end up as rare as those round topped sheepherder wagons you sometimes see out West. The move today is employing locals to work out of the 12 hr shacks and I can see the reasoning behind that.

    Thanks for the kind mention.

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