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This Ain't the Walmart Parking Lot

Oil Field Gate Guard Digs

I was reading on one of the internet recreational vehicle forums and a question asked often is ‘What kind of RV would suit us best?” I can see how a noob to RVing would be totally overwhelmed by all the RV stuff. This question is usually followed by someone else asking ‘What do you plan to use it for?’ since all of us internet recreational vehicle types are such helpful souls.  The internet rv forums are great places to find information.  I have been on the receiving end and I have tried my best to contribute as well.   With that said, sometimes all you get is a raft of crap. Just remember everything you read on the internet is not true.

 

Asphalt squatting at Walmart

In this case the noob said ‘ We are going to use it for boondocking and weekend getaways’ — to local state parks and such is what I assumed. Further down the thread, the noob said their boondocking plans mainly centered on ‘stopping in Walmart parking lots to get a nap overnight.’   OK, parking at  Walmart  overnight probably is boondocking in the most literal sense.  I just call it asphalt squatting.

If I sound a little terse this morning it is probably because I am.

terse [ turss ] (comparative ters·er, superlative ters·est)

adjective
Definition:

1. abrupt: brief and unfriendly, often conveying annoyance
‘a terse exchange between the two delegates’

2. concise: concise and economically phrased

Yeah, I think that covers it. I am not upset or angry or pissed off. I am just terse. I only wish the extent of my concern was how to park at Walmart.   I am not downing the noob at all,  I am just dealing with a problem set that is about 87 levels more advanced than asphalt squatting.   It all revolves around this oil field gate guard job.   I am getting many new visitors daily –which is a good thing– that arrived here because they were googling up some o’ that oilfield gate guard info.

So for those new folks and those of you who follow along regularly, the Old Girl is doing that industrial boondocking thing these days west of Gainesville, TX.  That is what we are doing and that’s what I have to write about.  When you are working 24/7 and 12 hour shifts it just wears you down like pot metal on a grinder.  We hit our four week anniversary working here last Saturday and the job has been more of a task than Miss Kathy or I  ever could have imagined.

You have no time to do much else than the job when you are on duty.  If you try to eat, you jump up every few minutes to go outside to check someone in.   If you try to watch TV, you better have a DVR.  If you try to write a blog entry , you better have plenty of time.  During the day, I have resorted to just sitting outside.  Checking in 20-30 vehicles per hour makes for nothing but door banging badness if I go in/out of the Old Girl each time.   Granted, we are on an exceptionally busy gate and it does slow down some between 2 and 5am.

Light traffic outside the Old Girl

You are working outside so you have to deal with the elements. As I write this at 4:45am, it is 44 degrees outside with light rain and a refreshing breeze out of the north east at 10mph. Thank goodness I have walk boards and a mud porch on days like this. Over the weekend, the wind was blowing to beat hell; so hard that it blew the coffee away when I tried to pour a cup. I remember thinking ‘Well that is different.’

12 hour shifts also cut into your downtime.  Miss K and I are averaging 5-6 hours of sleep each night/day.  Spend 12 hours working and then a few hours piddling, eating, showering and winding down and pretty soon your sleep time has been whittled away.  Interestingly enough, the drone of the generator and the ground thumping thunder of heavy equipment passing just feet from your bedroom was quickly assimilated.  My daily chores encompass anything that has to do with outside maintenance,   Miss K takes care of the inside stuff plus town trips for the post office, grocery store and clothes washing.   At the end of shift yesterday, I poked my head in the door and was met with the most wonderful smell of food cooking.   I should have know something was up because Tuco

Tuco the Dog with a fave treat --the heel slice of bread.

Tuco the Dog with a fave treat --the heel slice of bread.

the Dog is my running buddy outside during the day.  30 minutes earlier, she had scratched the door to go inside.  Her dog hearing had picked up the sound of the micro wave door closing and pots rattling.  She rarely misses the opportunity for a shot at some human food.  My Old Mann hearing let me down; good way to miss a meal fool.  Miss K was in full out Texas cooking mode.  We had chicken fried steak, gravy, homemade mashed potatoes and corn.  Bless her heart; it was heavenly!

A month ago when we started, we thought ‘how hard could this be?’   It is harder than you would suppose and no amount of pre-planning or research really prepares you for the reality that is the true job.  Another thing that is missing and is odd is the absence of a sense of accomplishment.   Every day we funnel strange pieces of machinery that smell of raw crude and sour gas down the road in front of the Old Girl.  At some point, they all come back out,  usually man and machines both streaked with the markings of dirty brown crude.    I am learning the lingo and the process but most of what they do back there is as foreign to me as one of those sushi picture menus.  When we were pushing dirt,  I could see the progress made every day.  At the end of a project, I could recall back and remember how it had looked prior to us transfiguring it.  I knew we had done something.   This job is not like that at all.  I know the crews are bringing in the wells and then they are gone to the next job;  we just don’t get to share in that accomplishment to an appreciable degree.

The plusses of the job far outweigh the negatives.  I have always been an adaptable soul and this job is no different.  I am hanging just fine, thank you very much.   Miss K is tougher than she looks and is confident she has found a job she can do with her physical limitations.  She is giving these oil field boys hell and both parties are enjoying it.  Tuco the Dog is getting to be an outside dog with her people and that is just pure dog goodness.  Life is good – and then some.

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4 comments to This Ain’t the Walmart Parking Lot

  • George

    Andy, I probably will never meet you but I enjoy to the max your postings. My 32D is running great and ,the good Lord willing, I’ll be able to watch the same sunset you do from my San Antonio winter hide-out. I hope you can post for many sunsets to come.

    George

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  • Gary Berman

    We enjoy your blog, we were told to call mid -dec to check around for opening in Jan or beyond. We want to show them we are serious by coming down to hill country in early Jan. Do you have some of the addresses we can try showing up at.

    Thanks Gary and Sally Berman

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    • Andrew

      Gary,

      We showed up in person and still waited some time for a gate. Honestly, I don’t know of a process where you can speed the process up if there are folks on the yard waiting.

      I would try to get them to mail you the employment packet and get all the stuff done like the tests and fingerprinting. Many times, at that point, they will tell you to go to one of the yards to wait in line.

      The best times to get on with one of the gate guard companies is late spring when the snowbirds leave and mid-summer when no one want to deal with the dust and heat.

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