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The Puckerbrush Irregular Vol. 8-17

Started out my Saturday morning in fine fashion with this email:

My weather forecast

Good morning Andy, just wanted to drop a note of appreciation. We started on our first gate Monday, (My wife Linda and I). We are loving it.

Just wanted to let you know how much your blog helped us to prepare for the job. I have been reading it since 2011 and you helped us know what to expect, and what we needed to bring. We are about 35 miles from (somewhere in Jim Hogg County,TX) and love the area.

The people around here are great, they are like people used to be at home. Linda went to the store in XXXX Wednesday, a lady with two children offered to help her load her groceries and a Hispanic gentleman loaded a case of water into the back of the truck for her. Does my heart good to know that there are places still around with people like this.

Hope you have a good day.

Mike

…….. and I replied

Jeez Mike!

Why didn’t you wait until it got hot to start?? 🙂

I appreciate the kind words and I am glad you are sliding into the job with little trouble. I don’t know if you are Texas natives or not but it is good you are experiencing the “throwback” aspect of small town Texas. You are deep enough down in South Texas to get full measure. I would never live in DFW, Austin or Houston but I will never live anywhere but Texas. You will find your gate traffic is even a step above your locals – Oil field folks work hard and retain the old values and work ethic in my experience. Enjoy your stay.

Good to hear from you!

Andy

Mike and Linda did everything right. They lived previously in the Southeast so South Texas is fairly alien country to them. But they did their homework, kept their expectations in check and bit the bullet to get down here before all the Winter Texans started to head back down this way.   We had a brief shortage of gate guards back in June but that is over.  The oilfield gate guard business is still soft and I expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  That means if you are thinkin’ about being a gate guard you need to follow Mike and Linda’s example.  They did it up right and because of that they are enjoying making that money day after day and week after week. Need I say it again?

Gate guarding is not rocket science but it is a JOB.  If your expectations are a mini-vacation in South Texas during the winter or if you are one of those folks who expect things to go like they did “Up North” you might be sorely disappointed.  Everybody in the oil patch works hard. Gate guards are not an exception. There is NO snivelin’ in the oil patch.

Now then, let’s do the ‘back in the day’  thing.  In November  2011, the price of oil was $100/barrel and by the end of the year it would show an average price of $111/barrel on the year.   The oil patch was operating at a frenetic pace that never slowed and we were working the busiest gate we ever worked outside of Muenster, TX in the Barnett Shale for EOG.  Back then it was not uncommon for the gate guard contract to be based on activity inside the gate and if you had multiple rigs, fracs, flowback crews etc. your pay went up accordingly.  During one six week time span our traffic was over 1000 vehicles per day inbound and we made $425/day. If memory serves we had 4 drilling rigs, 3 frac crews, 2 workover rigs and 6 flowback teams onsite.  The caliche rock road had been pounded to powder and it drifted 4 feet deep along the shoulder.  Those were the days.

UV rot on my awning. This environment is harsh on an RV. Take that into consideration.

It was during this time that I started the Oil Field Gate Guard forum simply because there was so much interest in the RV community and so little real info available about the job.  The forum was well received and quickly swelled to several hundred members and many thousand messages.  Emails from folks like Mike and Linda were commonplace. Hell, they even had reality shows about oil rigs and roughnecks on the DISH.  Some newbies and worms were convinced it would last forever but the old hardbacks knew better.  In December of 2015 I shut down the Forum due to lack of activity.  The oil patch boom was over – Oil prices hit a 6 year low at $37/barrel.  Much of the Forum traffic had moved to Facebook and that was fine……..  Me?  I could not deal with the cat videos, oh-so-wise-sayings and car selfies that everyone felt so compelled to share many times each day on Facebook . Oh Well!   🙂

With the economy nationwide turning down,  the oil patch changed as well.  Cost cutting was the order of the day and the companies that had been running fat vanished overnight.  The gate guard community changed apace.  I was seeing more and more folks that were hard up and needed the income showing up down here.  It was not atypical to hear from some newb that had arrived down here with a 20yo POS RV and $20 bucks left in their pocket. Waiting 2-3 weeks for a gate was a huge financial hardship but they didn’t have the money to even move a mile to look for other employment.  On top of that, many of these new gate guards were years from retirement and planned on doing it year round.  So yeah, it was perilous times and that is one reason I took 5 months off in 2015.

Fast forward to current times in the oil patch and some of the groundswell changes that came about when the bottom fell out are every day common place now.  There is still no fat and the days of “I don’t care what it costs just get it done!” are nothing but fading memories.   The Winter Texans that grace us each winter as gate guards are fewer and the days of seeing a gate guard every few miles along a Texas blue highway are long gone.  The daily pay is lower and arriving down here after Thanksgiving may mean a wait of many weeks for an assignment and this has driven many of the retired Winter Texans away and I hate that.  Those good folks understood the South Texas lifestyle, they brought good equipment and they had that old school work ethic.  I do miss ’em.

I recently learned that a couple who has no place down here as gate guards are making plans to return for their second winter in a few months.  Oh bother!  I hate it because they do not represent the gate guard community well, they do not embrace this South Texas lifestyle and they do not respect the South Texas Community.  I had this to say about them in a previous Puckerbrush Irregular issue:

I follow a blog (link to one of my better rants) that infuriates me no end but it does give me perspective.  The full timing couple are immensely entitled, condescending,  judgemental, self-centered corporate refugee Yankees and there is no end to their snivelin’ and complainin’.  This is the same couple that broadly brushed the entire town of Dilley, TX as utterly backward and sorely lacking in anything remotely redeemable – according to them anyhow. When they were gate guarding, they had a sub come in while they took a few hours off and paid the poor soul $35 for a 7 hour stint on their gate!  Why?  Their reasoning was their day rate divided by 24 hours was $5.21/hr or somesuch. Why should these obviously superior folk pay more?  They also locked up their RV and forced the sub to work out of their vehicle.

Gate guard etiquette for  sub pay is (and has been) $10/hr for as long as I have been doing this.  Look at it this way- a sub drives to your location (sometimes many miles) and sometimes they are not even permitted access to the RV ( I been there and done that and won’t be back) so you have to make it worth their while.  I pay $15/hr with a $75 minimum and have always vetted the sub to the point I allow them in the RV.  Marcie Girl put $105 cash dollars in her pocket yesterday and got to watch the new Wahlberg movie Patriot’s Day on the DVR (which is kickass BTW).  She was happy; I was happy and guess what?  When I call her again for a fill-in she will go out of her way to oblige.  That is how it works friends and neighbors.  Some folks are incapable of understanding that and never will.

But hey,  this is still a free country and people are free to work how and where they choose. I wouldn’t hire these two ass clowns if they were the last gate guards in Texas and since this is a free country,   I can and will voice my displeasure regarding their actions and attitude.

Whew, damn! That nearly got me in a lather.

Instead of me getting all riled up,  let me shift gears and clue you in on a blog I thoroughly enjoy – and have been enjoying since early Winter last year.  Michael and Kelly are fulltimers and gate guard a part of the year.  To me, they epitomize the full time RV lifestyle.  They work hard and smart and value the old school work ethic, they travel to historic places that interest them and they utilize their mobile lifestyle to visit friends and family often.  Seriously, how much better can it getKelly writes well and their blog is one I visit on a regular basis.  I would highly  recommend you do the same-same especially if you are contemplating a fulltime RV lifestyle or if you are interested in becoming an oil field gate guard.

Note:  If any of y’all reading this were part of the old gate guard message forums here, I would like to hear from you in the Comments.  Just look at the very bottom of the post in the small print for the Comments link.

*******************

Perky Pet hummer feeder on my dinette window

Would you all tell me if I am holding my mouth wrong or something?

I have always loved feeding hummingbirds back to my very first days of livin’ in an RV. Always, always one of the first things to go up in a new location was my Perky-Pet Window Mount Hummingbird Feeder. I remember one job for My Bro outside of Coleman, TX where a cloud of hummers followed the Old Girl all the way to the gate when I left.

I have been in this same general area of LaSalle / McMullen Counties South Texas for over 4 years now and it is some sort of hummingbird wasteland.  I had no luck over on the other gate and none here either but I just keep tryin’.  When I got back from my recent vacation, I ran across the Perky Pet when I was setting up on the gate.  I thought ‘why not?’ and hung it up on the dinette window.  I bet it wasn’t 5 minutes until a hummer showed up and I was thinkin’ hell yeah!!  It never came back and I took the feeder down when the sugar water got all nasty.  So the other day, Vela Von and I were doing our dog romp down at the end of the lease road.  She likes to pee in the tall grass and as she was making her way out there she scared up a little green hummer no bigger than a peanut.  I couldn’t wait to get back to The Palace to hang up the feeder!  Alas,  been a week or better now and the water is gettin’ all cloudy.  Not a single hummer has been to see me.  If any of y’all are hummerthologists I sure would like to hear some suggestions.

End Note:  S.O.S. and I Do, I Do by ABBA from the Gold cd.

You regular readers know entirely too much about me already like how I watch Dancing with the Stars and America’s Got Talent.  Now you know I got ABBA on the vintage Zune as well.

This youtube is a time machine back to 1975 and American Bandstand.  No piercings, tattoos, blue hair, botox or silicone.  Ummmmm, Swedish chicks are hot!  Hell, 70’s hippie chicks are the hottest and always will be!

Warning:  S.O.S. is one of those stick in your brain all day songs.

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The Puckerbrush Irregular Vol. 8-17, 9.9 out of 10 based on 14 ratings
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9 comments to The Puckerbrush Irregular Vol. 8-17

  • “70’s hippie chicks are the hottest and always will be!”

    You know it.

    We found and followed you as we started GG in 2012 for 3 winters. Miss the days of $350 per day but really only received that pay for a couple of months. People know this, GG is a dirty, cold, hot, nasty, long,24 hour a day grind. Not a job for a wimp.

    South Texas is a nice place, but give me my ranch in the Wet Mountains of Colorado…..

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  • Ken

    Go get em Andy. Some people think way more of themselves than they should. If they don’t like us, they have the right to stay to hell at home. was an old forui(?).

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    • Andy

      You been around her for awhile Ken — and always welcome.

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  • Tum

    Noooooo! I ticked the friggin’ thumbs down by accident and I can’t fix it. Please accept my humble apologies. Look forward to your blog every week.

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  • Kerry Jackson

    Hi Andy!!
    Learned everything we know from your Blog! We gate guarded 3 years13,14, and 15. Then took a break and did some work for family. Your blog was our rule book! We learned and prepped for several months!
    We full time rv and people ask us all the time about our gate guarding adventure. We refer them to your blog. Tell them it ain’t for sissies and tell them that right now is not a good time to start. You can tell usually right away if someone is able to pull off being a gate guard or not.
    We appreciate your honesty and candor! And of course respect your opinion always! Thank you for all you have done for all the gate guards and for those that you help make a better choice!!
    I read your blog faithfully and am always entertained!! Thank you again!!

    Kerry And Larry Jackson

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  • Great job as usual. Thank You for the service you provide for other folks. This is a Weekly Reader for me and it has never been WEAKLY.
    Also Andy

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  • joey westfield

    Andy,
    I started reading your blog and became a member of the forum in fall 2012. It was the best way to find out info on gate guarding. We started gate guarding in March of 2013. Thanks to you, and people like Old Printer, who talked to me on the phone for almost an hour before we came down, and Gunsliger, who let us come to their site and see what went on. and others, we were pretty well prepared. Have been doing it now for 4 1/2 years full time, with about 3 weeks off a year and love the job and lifestyle down here. miss the forum. i have kept up with your blog since, but first time commenting. thanks for everything you have and are doing.

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