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Useless Expectations

Day breaks over an unnamed mesa

If you haven’t dropped by the MyOldRV message board, you need to do that.  Got a nice little community coming together over thataway.

You wouldn’t know it but I tend to listen more than I talk.  Gets me branded as ‘surly’ or ‘anti-social’  more often as not; I just blow it off.   That is one reason I enjoy visiting the message boards here and elsewhere.  The variety of personalities and  people’s expectations are a daily source of enlightenment….. and more than a little entertainment.

Of course, the subject of gate guarding is paid close attention.  This time of year, the freshman gate guards are waiting on a gate or just getting settled into a lifestyle that is definitely not for everybody.  Each morning  I set down to run the traps with a fresh pot of coffee and catalog the educational progression of the snivelers and the stoic; rookies and veterans alike.  Unrealistic expectations are what get most folks in trouble when they fall off down into that South Texas to try to make an oil field gate guard hand.

Let me try to explain…….

Have you ever been in an RV park that advertised ‘free WiFi’ and then come to find out that was a true statement only if you were within 50 yards of the office?  Dirty bastards!  Did it make you mad enough to chew nails and spit out a barbed wire fence?

Or try this one…….

Does the very thought of pulling into a strange fuel stop and fueling up your coach or tow vehicle put you in a nail biting tizzy?

Or maybe this……

What do you have in your storage bays?  Pool floats or extra fuel filters?  A lawn table with an umbrella or 4 cases of bottled water?

Sometimes you just know that Hindenburg is going to crash and burn and all you can do is watch.

Checking on the life support system

It would do us all more than a bit of good to step back and take a look at how these rig outlaws view life in the Oil Patch.   The boys on the hill had a rough time this past week; I could tell something was up when I saw them tripping pipe unexpectedly.   Drawn faces, tired eyes and grit  oily arms were in evidence when they left for town to pick up some lunch meat and frozen dinners.   I finally found out from one of the vendors inbound that they had twisted off 5 sections of pipe at around 3500′.    Not great news; that.   But still yet,  we invariably got a smile and the ‘You need anything from town?’  question as they checked out.  Sniveling and whining got no place in the oil field.

I still surprises me when I read  about how awful the dust/mud/heat/cold/laundromats/grocery stores/restaurants/mail service/lease roads are from other gate guards.  What did you expect?   Some of these Tejas counties are 100 miles end to end with ONE town in the whole county. If it wasn’t for the oil business, there wouldn’t be nothing out here but a cadre of whip leather tough cowboys, a few scrawny mama cows and some lonesome coyotes yippin’ down in the wash every evening.  Tough country, always has been and always will be.

If you were to climb to the top of the Holy Mount and ask the Great Gate Guard Guru where lies the true secret of being a good gate guard, he would say ‘Everybody’s gotta work.’   Chew on that for a  minute.   These oil field hands are going after it with grit and determination every day and they respect the same-same in a person.  That means getting up off your butt and interacting  with your gate traffic.   Hit that door and actually speak to everybody and learn their story.  Listen to the young boys talk about the problems of young couples everywhere and wives/girlfriends home alone.   Talk to them about babies missing their daddies and birthdays and football games unattended.  Listen to the old men groan under the weight of years worked hard.   Pay attention and keep track of what is going on in the neighborhood so when the company man has a question, you are the person he comes to.   Waving out the window and writing license numbers down on a log sheet that most likely will never be looked at only breeds resentment.

You can’t order a box of respect from Amazon.  As a matter of fact, respect doesn’t come pre-packaged with a college diploma,  a big fancy RV or fat diamonds on perfect fingers.   Respect is grudgingly earned drop by drop and day by day and these roughnecks will tell ya quick it is worth more than all the oil under their feet.

 End Note: Truth by Ruthie Foster from the Truth According to Ruthie Foster cd.   Lordy, that gal can sing.

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7 comments to Useless Expectations

  • Ken

    Absolutely correct. Those guys on the rig are giving up a lot to work there, but they love it. Give them respect and it comes back in spades.
    Nothing will get you ostracized on a rig quicker than whiining about, heat, cold, dirt, grit, tripping pipe, making a connection, or whatever. If you gripe, you are gonna get left on the couch pretty quick.
    And, I really think a griping gate guard will be “not invited back” gate guard. Those poor guys we call service men, or supervisors quickly learn who is trying to do a good job and get along.
    “My generator went down three times this last month, the “company” (insert name here) has some crappy, sorry no good equipment” will quickly get you uninvited. On the other hand, if the generator goes down and your hands get dirty trying to get it back up before you call the field guy will ensure steady work.
    Like you said, this ain’t for everybody. Appropriate expectations will lead to a good experience in the field.

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  • Andy – I’m amazed at how many stories I hear of people who just unhook their bell at night and go to sleep. Seriously? What do they think 24/7 means?
    A lot of the time, the guys are in a hurry to get to town, but when they stop to talk – they really want to talk. Sometimes they’re just lonely and want a bit of small talk. Sometimes they’re burdened and need to empty out their hearts.
    We really aren’t able to fix our own generator – and quite frankly, many of the men we’ve met that are gate guards have as little mechanical ability, or even less than we do. I don’t think you have to do your own repairs, but I do think treating everyone, and I do mean everyone, with kindness and respect is not just a good way to keep a job, it’s the right way to conduct ourselves, period.

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    • Andrew

      Hiya Deb!

      Every one should give 100%– you know what a HUGE problem I have with the fact that 80% effort seems to be “good enough” these days. When did THAT happen? Some folks can change oil and replace belts on generators –some can’t. Regardless, if it is within your capabilities, you need to step up and do the very best job you can.

      I have heard the same horror stories about gate guard slackers that you have and seen some of it first hand. Not on our watch………

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  • A kind word and a ‘Howdy Fella’s” goes miles. I’m planning a Tennesse BBQ pulled pork feed for the rig crews. Just my way of saying ‘thanks’ for the job!

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  • Hi Andy and Miss K!
    Just wanted you to know I posted this on my Gate Guard Info section tonight:
    “In order to keep this just a simple information page, I’m closing comments here and would encourage you to go to Andy’s forum for an opportunity to share opinions and experiences with other RVers and gate guards.” Link was included!

    Miss K – you’re amazing! and thanks for the info on anonymous mail! I had no idea!
    We’ve been waiting for a gate for 12 days – all the yards are full. We have a spot Sunday (as far as we know – you know how that goes…) 😀
    Best to you!
    Debbie

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  • Monte

    Anyone who comes to the western part of Texas to do any work out of doors had better be a hard worker, and must respect their fellow man and the land around them. The desert is hard on a person, day in and day out. No amount of whining, complaining, or even bargaining with it is gonna make it change it’s ways. Texicans have prided themselves on being tough enough to live in Texas since we was part of Mexico. The rest of the country might have gotten gentle and easy, but this land hasn’t.

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