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A Gate Gone Bad

Our neighborhood

I would say we have had tens of thousands of vehicles pass through here in the past months.  We got paid well when we were processing 1000 vehicles a day through here.  I can’t complain but I do question, looking back now, how long we could have held that frenetic pace.

Both Miss K and I welcomed the respite when the last of the rigs pulled out of here sometime in August.   100 or so vehicles a day is a cakewalk and the weekends are especially nice.  This past Saturday was a good day;  a good November Texas day is what you live through August to enjoy.  The reduced traffic means we know most of the regulars on sight now. Weekends are blissfully slow.  The various pumpers, gaugers and mechanics get a wave and a holler and they go in about their business.  We know by now the names, who they work for, where they are going and their license plates by heart.  It ain’t rocket science you know.

We change shift around 3pm every day and I was winding it down when a red Toyota pick up pulled up and stopped that was unfamiliar. I bailed out of the Old Girl, clipboard in hand, to get their story.  I figured it was lookie-loos from town.  The closer I got, the more I was sure I had it pegged.  2 older gentleman dressed in camo hunting clothes, it is deer season after all.

‘Howdy’ I said as I walked up to the driver. 

Where y’all headed?’  Miss K and I have found that one question is the best screening tool we have.  If a stranger hesitates, is unsure or doesn’t pop right back with a pad location or somebody he is meeting here, the interrogation steps up a level.  This red truck was way too clean too have spent much time in the oil field anyway.

Deer Hunter said: ‘I need to look around back there.’

Polite Gate Guard says: ‘Can you be a little more specific?’  I never challenge or show aggression early on in a deal like this.  The less I say the better-people tend to talk if you aren’t.

Deer Hunter:  ‘I want to see what EOG is doing back here that they didn’t do for me.’  Uh oh–this sounds like we are headed for a bad place. There was a definite edge in his voice and I was getting the stare down.

Polite me:  ‘ I am sorry sir but unless you have business here I can’t allow you to enter. I wish I could.’  I looked right back at him and gave him a sincerely fake smile.

Deer Hunter:  ‘Well, let me tell you something…’  Whenever somebody says this, the conversation is fixin’ to head south.  when they say that with a raised voice and a reddening face, I look to see if their hands are filled.  ‘EOG f****d me.  The contract said they were s’posed to drill to 10,000 feet.  They stopped at 9,000 feet and didn’t get a drop of oil.  THEN they went over on my neighbor and drilled a lateral under me and sucked all my oil out.’  I stepped away from his door-out of arm’s reach.

Still polite but increasingly wary gate guard:  ‘I am sincerely sorry to hear about your troubles however I am positive there is nothing I can do about it.’  My mental tally says we are now at Stage 2 in what is developing into a confrontation.

Deer Hunter: ‘By God, I am going to go back in there and find somebody to talk to about this TODAY!’  What an odd thing to say– Either Deer Hunter was grossly stupid or he had been drinking.  Either one was not a good thing for me.

Still polite gate guard: ‘I am sorry sir but I cannot allow that. This is restricted private property.’

Deer Hunter: ‘Says WHO damn it? ‘  He is near to shouting now.

Gate guard losing patience:  ‘The land owner and EOG set the restrictions for who is allowed to pass.  I am bound to follow their rules.’

Deer Hunter: ‘Who is the land owner??? ‘   A fifth grader at Muenster Elementary knows who owns this property.  I am dealing with an odd bird for sure. Let’s just escalate it to Stage 3.

Gate Guard-no longer smiling: ‘At this point, I am going to insist you  leave the property.  Failure to do so is lawful and willful trespass and I will treat it as such.’  He is SO mad now he actually splutters. He reaches up on the dash for a piece of paper and a pen.  I don’t know if he is going to ask for my name or the landowners.  I don’t give him the chance.   I pull my phone out of my pocket and flip it open.

Deer Hunter: ‘What are you gonna do?  Take a picture of my license plate?’  He is sneering and condescending now. It pisses me off something awful.

Not playing this game gate guard: ‘No.  I am calling the sheriff.  They take a dim view of trespassers in this county.’  That causes him to pause.

Deer Hunter: ‘Look, I am sorry….’ I do not let him finish the sentence.

Gate guard: ‘I do not tolerate rude behavior from any manI will ask you to leave once more before I place this call to the sheriff.  There are no other options.’   He reaches up and shifts the pick up to reverse.

Deer Hunter: ‘You are a sorry m****r  f****r!’

Gate guard: ‘ You would do well to learn some manners!’

As unarmed gate guards, we cannot physically prevent any one from entering here.  If they chose to ignore us they can simply drive through and not stop.  Little I can do about it except attempt to stop the runner on the way out or get a license plate.  First think Miss K asked me when I came back inside the Old Girl was ‘Did you get their tag?’  Well, hell no, totally spaced on that one.  I guess I was too mad.  Fine gate guard I make, huh?

The good news is 99.9% of the folks we have dealt with here are as nice and polite as they can be.  We do turn people away on a regular basis but most people are as gracious as they can be about it.


 End Note: Iron Gate by Scott Miller and the Commonwealth from the For Crying Out Loud cd.

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9 comments to A Gate Gone Bad

  • Andy – Well done! We’ve only had 1 guy that bad in almost a year (of course, we haven’t had the crazy amount of traffic you two have – I don’t how you did it, either!).
    Festus, the guard donkey, showed up before I could even press speed dial, but the same fella came back the next day and Heidi did make a call.
    As a matter of fact, your guy had the exact same story as our guy – just a different company and a white hat cowboy hat and giant belt buckle instead of camo!
    Of course he didn’t call you “little lady” but otherwise, yep!

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  • Joel

    Interesting story.

    You’re like an insurance policy. 99.9% of folks don’t need you 99.9% of the time. It’s that 0.1% where you earn your pay.

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    • Andrew

      Exactly right Joel.

      There have been multiple instances of theft and vandalism at unmanned gates in the area. Sometimes just being in place is enough of a deterrent. Miss K has traffic nightly (almost) that stops out on the county road and fives us the once over. Usually, A bright light shined on their direction or letting the dog out will send them on their way. She does NOT go outside at night unless the person is known to us. All business is conducted through a head high sliding window in the side of the RV and the door is locked.

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  • Always one in every crowd. You handled that very professionally, for sure. Some days are boring and other days you get the adrenalin pumping.

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  • Maybe it’s EOG safety guys testing us?

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    • Andrew

      Could be! You always operate on a different channel than the rest of us.

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  • Don

    “Gate guard: ‘I do not tolerate rude behavior from any man.”

    Reminds me of Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove.

    “Woodrow Call: I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.”

    Glad things worked out without having to place a call to the Sheriff.

    Don

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    • Andrew

      Miss K DID call the Sheriff when some of the weekend hunter-guests had a little bit too much too drink and decided they would go out riding golf carts at midnight and playing chicken with the oil trucks on the county road.

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  • Joel (Betty) Atteberry

    We have not ran into that yet. DH, has shouted,jump & whistle, then stood his ground. I think he has had someone on every gate that does not like him. We do have to demand respect on most of the gates. Keep up the good writing. As of now we are located in New Baden, Tx. Hope to get back down south as soon as this job is over.

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