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Don't Be Afraid of Change - #2

February 2011. First gate guard assignment outside Muenster,TX in the Barnett Shale.  Everything in this pic is GONE 'cept for the Bigg Ass Suburban!

February 2011. First gate guard assignment outside Muenster,TX in the Barnett Shale. Everything in this pic is GONE ‘cept for the Big Ass Suburban!

One of the things I like about myself is I have never been scared of change.  I’ve changed careers, wives and hair styles with with aplomb and grace.  Don’t bother me a bit most times he said with an almost straight face.

Back in February 2011,  Me and Little Blondie decided to do the oil field gate guard thing and we stayed in the Barnett Shale until the following January.  The Barnett was closing down;  we were such rooks we didn’t even realize it until months later.   We were working for Gate Guard Services out of Corpus at the time making the then standard $125 per day.   GGS is a wonderful outfit if you are a noob just getting your feet wet for the first time in the oil patch.  We were fortunate to choose them initially and I still recommend them for first time gate guards.

When the Fort Worth GGS office had no decent gates left to give us, we called the GGS office in Carrizo Springs, South Texas and sure enough they had a gate for us — in Far West Texas!  We ended up outside of Iraan /Ft. Stockton / Balmorrhea for the next few months.  I am glad we didn’t stay any longer than that.  West Texas is a different environment if you are an oilfield gate guard.  The distances are greater, everything is more expensive and gate assignments are not as plentiful  –all for the standard $125 a day.  We both loved West Texas but certainly did not care for being a gate guard out that way. I would not recommend it.  I hear the gate guard companies are now having to pay a premium rate to get gate guards to go out that way.  I guess word got out, huh?

Three months out there and GGS got outbid on the contract and we were huntin’ another home.  Ended up this time outside of Catarina, Puckerbrush Country, South Texas by providence and the grace of God. We were still with GGS, still making $125 a day.  Well sir,  we asked for more money.  Other gate guard companies were beginning to see the light and pay their guards more; not GGS.  Then they came out with their non disclosure agreement and it chapped my ass–bad!  After a year or better outside of Catarina for GGS, an opportunity came up at a gate 30 feet away from us  — at $200 per day.  I had been watching the goings on at our neighbors for a good while and I knew that other gate guard company did not have the choice equipment nor provide the support that GGS did.  I also know that I was a low drag gate guard who took care of most of the problems in house and we were a no snivelin’ household.  GGS knew this but they didn’t care to pay for it. Why not jump ship and get paid handsomely to do what we were already doing?  Ummm, do the math!  300 days average per year on the gate for GGS equals $37,500.  Same number of days on the gate for the new outfit equals $60 grand.  That NDA BS punched our ticket as far as I was concerned.  Adios Gate Guard Services.

The new folks.  October 2014 north of Los Angeles, TX

The new folks. October 2014 north of Los Angeles, TX

I am going to do something uncharacteristic here and name some names because they deserve it.  When we jumped ship we went with KC Services out of Laredo.  They paid top dollar for gate guards at the time  – $200 per day.  They are still at the top of the scale as far as I know.  That was 2 years and 3 months ago.  Along the way, we had to take care of some problems ourselves and do without the hand holding that GGS is known for.  You have to have your Big Boy pants on to work for KC.  We knew that going in and whenever we had to deal with a problem or there was a minor glitch in the plan, Little Blondie would look at me and say “That is why we are making the BIG money!”  ‘Nuff said!   KC Services number is (956)-791-0064.   Anna is the office manager.  Kim is the Boss Lady.  These are GOOD people friends and neighbors!  I loved them alot.  Before you go rushing for your iPhone to call ’em up just be *******strongly*********  advised that if you are an inherent whiner or a sorry slacker this is NOT Repeat NOT the gig for you.  They will eat you alive and spit out the bloody pulp.  In the same vein, if you are a noob, stay away.  Get that first gig with GGS or somebody that don’t mind holding your hand an itty bitty.  I don’t care how full of yourself you are, how you really believe down in your hearts of hearts you and wifey are going to be the best gate guards ever,  the Puckerbrush and the daily grind of this gate guard job have a way of turning even the best intentioned folks inside out.

So along about the end of September, the  Ranch Manager drove up and the window slid down indicating it was time for a chat.

Him: “You heard anything?”  He usually starts a chat like that.

Me: “No sir. You?”

Him: “Got a call from Houston. They are replacing your company here on the gate.  I told them you needed to stay because I don’t sleep good at night when you are not here.  You know this.” 

My mind was going a hunnert miles an hour.  Talk about left field!  I had no clue this was coming down the pike.

About all I could do was say “Well thanks.  I appreciate that.”

Him: “They said they were going to call you and the new gate guard company was going to be in touch with an offer. Let me know what you decide, OK?”

Me: “Yes sir.”  The window went up and he drove off.  He don’t say much.

I got a call from Houston Corporate three days later and they did in fact want me to remain here with the new company.  They told me who the New Folks were and that they would be in touch.  Alrighty then.  3-4 more days go by and I am wondering why the New Folks haven’t contacted me.  The separation date was October 6 and we were pushing right up on it.  Hell, I was out most mornings hauling detritus collected over two years off to the trash trailer.  I was picking stuff up and storing it away in the DTB. I even got the go ahead from the Big Man here on the Ranch to pull the No Princess Palace over to his facility and squat for a week or so if I got blown out of here.  In the meantime, KC called me with an attractive assignment down on the border that was just a daytime gate.  Real tempting……

The dreaded iPad gate guard checker inner thingy

The dreaded iPad gate guard checker inner thingy

I just kept waiting on that phone call from the New Folks.  One hot ass afternoon I was sitting in the cool of the inside and I spied  a strange Superduty tentatively deciding if they wanted to come in the gate or not.  When you been at the same place for over two years, vehicles that don’t belong just scream back at ya.  I grabbed up the clipboard and stepped out into the furnace to see what they might be wanting.  It was the New Folks.  They decided they might oughta check out this gate guard that Corporate rated so high in person instead of blowing it off with a phone call.  Extra credit for them.

The next 2 hours was just a blur of stacks of paperwork, shirts and pants and an iPad.  Then a few minutes of “We are the new sheriff.  Here are the rules.”   Boil it all down and I have to wear khaki pants and a logo’d shirt and cap….. and use an iPad instead of paper logs.  On my end, I got a raise on my single guard daily rate and I am an employee with full benefits in 90 days.  I welcome the help on the taxes –that was getting to be a pain!!! and it will be nice to get some company health insurance.  They also do direct deposit weekly – that is sweet!   The iPad that everybody carries on so about?  I signed on to do a job that uses an iPad.  I knew that going in.  That’s all I’ll be saying about that.

I am 10 days or so in with the New Folks and I have had to make a few minor changes.  I can’t wear a short sleeve t-shirt out in this UV.  Already too much sun damage on the old bod and I don’t need no more.  Next thing is I am gonna give them back those khaki pants  – too Wal-marty cheap for me.  Last few years when I am not Wearing the   Wrangler 13MWZ Jeans,  I like the 5.11 Men’s Cotton Tactical Pant . They wear like iron and they feel substantial on this wrinkled old ass. They just do.  (I appreciate it when you click those Amazon links folks.  The light don’t stay on here without a few pesos to pay the bills)

 

 

 

 

 

End Note:  Undone by Nathan Hamilton from the Receive album.

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11 comments to Don’t Be Afraid of Change – #2

  • Ken

    Well put Andy (again). Shows that doing a thankless job well can get rewarded when least expected. All too often people think I will do just enough to get by, but you prove again that doing a job to the best of your ability will pay off. All the GGs out there need to take a lesson from you.

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  • Dee

    Hi Andy, I have to place an order with Amazon today so I will be back and use one of your links. I feel it is the very least I can do considering how much I enjoy reading your posts.

    Keep on keeping on and I will keep looking forward to reading. I have said it before but want to repeat myself….I love the way you write and tell a story, no matter the subject, I will read it.

    Dee

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  • Rob

    The gate guard lesson is appreciated.

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  • Lynn Brashears

    Congrats Andy. So glad it’s working for ya, still hoping you get enough rest on a 24 hr gate. Nice looking equipment. You deserve it all, you’re one helluva teacher! Tom & Lynn

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  • Nancy Klune

    Congratulations Andy! Fell in the bucket and came out smelling like……….. well like puckerbrush. 😉

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    • Andrew

      Thank YOU Nancy!

      “I love the smell of puckerbrush in the morning. It smells like…” Oh wait!!

      LOL

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  • Lynette

    Are you still working out of your trailer or do you have a guard shack with the new company? Interesting….

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  • Ross

    Hi, Andy,

    Haven’t checked in since you got the TT. Am posting on the subject of clothing. As an oilfield truck driver — with the requirement of FR clothing — I’d like to strongly endorse:

    1] FR Wrangler Riggs carpenter pants FR3WO2L (rip stop cotton)

    2] FR Walls shirts 56390 (button-down, long sleeve. Big pockets)

    Went through the various offerings and only these stood up. Have had to spend several thousand to find what works and then have enough to cover many days of work. These are both so good in fact I’ll never buy another pair of blue jeans or most of what is offered as “work shirts”.

    I use Ace-bandage material suspenders under the work shirt in summer (April-October) and switch over to galluses for the cool months. That the clothing is loose and allows ventilation from neck to ankle is part of a successful strategy in the heat.

    A] Underwear for heat: I also strongly recommend the “rack grade” (display at Sports Academy) UNDERARMOR ventilated 6″ boxers. As well as their loose fit t-shirts. Both in artificial fabric. About $20 each. I have about three weeks worth now. In the hottest weather I wear only the t-shirt (suspenders over them) if my deliveries do not include drilling rig safety requirements.

    B] Underear for cold: When it actually is cold in south Texas (means 50F and windy) I use the old-fashioned one-piece union suits in a poly fabric. Used to get them from Cabelas but not available since a few years back. Both under and outer wear allow that warm air to flow up and down without the restriction of using a belt. The high zoot SMARTWOOL separates are excellent, but expensive. (My income justifies it, though). I also have some Turkish army heavy wool shirts and pants along with an FR “barn coat”. Don’t need much to cut the wind if the clothing is layered a bit.

    All these launder well. Use CALGON water softener and less detergent (I use TIDE HE liquid). Fabric softener is contraindicated for FR clothing, but some more water softener fits the need.

    KEEN “Atlanta” composite toe safety shoes. Ventilated “steel toe” sneakers. Meet the same ASTM standards as cheap Walmart yellow boots or my top-end Redwings. Also can be machine washed (I’ve done mine twice in two years. Leather fading a little, so some Lincoln Stain Wax mixed with Redwing Boot Oil brought some color back).

    Poly (non-cottton) wicking socks (enough pairs to change once to three times daily). UA brand also. THOR-LO boot socks for the steel-toed rubber boots (and a foot warmer insert). All at SA. Knee high woolens in various thicknesses for the trips up north to Oklahoma, Utah and the like.

    I’ve only been questioned a couple of times by safety men. And they wind up asking details. I’m on and off most rigs in about an hour so usually no guff about sleeves rolled up or these shoes. When driving I use MINNETONKA moosehide moccasins (full rubber sole) and they last for years. Can feel the A/C through them. Have survived several years of truckstop diesel-covered concrete and caliche truck yards. IOW the safety shoes are only for deliveries and at customer loading facilities.

    Clothing should be a system. Tools for weather. And expensed as such.

    Final recommendationa are FILSON hat, number 60068. Almost waterproof and wool fabric that tucks inside to come down and keep ears warm in windy/cold. Not FR. FILSON is cheap meaning it lasts forever. My “new” coat from them is 20-years old. And, I’ve been looking at Chippewa 23922 Snake boots for those non safety requirement days it is cool enough to wear tall boots. Yeah, the snakes may be dormant but I’ll get plenty of use from them [is the idea]. Love the Russells, but they’re genuinely expensive (custom-made).

    Best to you.

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