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No Whining!

Sunrise on the desert plateau

14 day ago we made the move from the Iraan area 130 miles to the east to where we are now.  Out in these parts,  a tough life comes part and parcel with the being here.   I was out scoutin’ a new access road for the rig yesterday morning about daylight with the Company Man.  Like most of the other fellas on the rig, this is the farthest west they have worked and the  mere nature of the place assails their Cajun sensibilities.  He pointed to a mesquite bush that was sporting 6 inch thorns and and said ‘This is a sure ’nuff god forsaken place.’

I can see his point.  At 3200′ or there abouts elevation, the nights are still dipping into the 30s and during the day it is getting into the 80s.  50 degree swings in daily temps will addle anybody.  Yeah, we have had a couple of good sandstorms thrown in for good measure but it just is what it is.  Myself, I do believe I prefer this over humidity that smothers like a wet wool blanket, poodle-eating gators and bitey bugs big enough to show up on radar. One good thing; the coolish nights are keeping the rattlers holed up for the most part.  That won’t last though and I didn’t have the heart to mention that to the Company Man.  I am just knowing the rattlers probably outnumber the humans about 100 to 1 or so around here.

Sunset in a sandstorm

I have been listening to some sniveling within the gate guard community as well that centers around pay on a busy gate.  Some single gates service multiple pads and it may come to pass that the gate guard is dealing with more than one drilling rig or a drilling rig and a frac crew simultaneously.  We had a gate like that for 10 months outside of Muenster, TX and it did pay extra for the extra rigs.  On the flip side, we did a short stint at a gate in the Metromess that was such an easy peasy deal that we were told going in it might pay $25 less than the normal day rate.  Turns out it paid full measure but we took the gate with that understanding.

Let me try to explain what I know about this pay scale issue.  Now, keep in mind, nobody from the company has set me down and said right out that this is the way the cow eats the cabbage.  Just some observations and logical thinking on my part after doing this for awhile now.

Drilling at daybreak

The gate guard company solicits the business from the oil company. Somewhere in that process, money is discussed.  If it is a multiple pad job,  extra money is going to be discussed. Usually, the going rate is an additional $50 to the guard for every extra rig.  Some oil companies are going to pay this extra and some never have and never will.  A contract is agreed upon and life moves on.  Face it, some contracts are gravy and some not so good.    Some days a gate guard is busy and earns every peso and then some.   It is easy to get disgruntled and wonder why you are working so damned hard for such miserable scratch.  Well, what about those days when there is no traffic and you don’t do jack?  Maybe your rig has left and you are waiting on the frac crew or something and your traffic amounts to just a few trucks every 24 hours.  I have seen those posts on the forum that say ‘ it is so slow I almost feel bad taking their money.’  Yin and yang.  Good and bad.

I just hate a sniveling grown man (or woman).  If your gate is busy and you feel you are getting shorted, go to your supervisor and let ’em know.  If it is in the contract to pay extra OR if the oil company has a history of paying extra for extra traffic you will get your payday adjusted.  Think about it!  Chances are if you get a daily pay boost the gate guard company is as well.   On the other hand, if the contract was let at a flat rate with no provision for extra rigs, you are most likely stuck.  Some oil companies have never paid extra and never will.

We have been in one situation where we felt the daily rate was not adequate. This was not an assignment where there was a temporary upswing in traffic due to an extra rig.  The entire job from start to finish was underpaid.  We talked to our gate guard supervisor and were told the daily rate was not adjustable. Times were slow and assignments were not plentiful.  The rate had been bid low to get the work.   Took us 72 hours to remember the Old Girl has wheels for a reason.  Most of us here are independent contractors and we DO have a say so in what work we do; or don’t.

Just don’t snivel for god’s sakes.  If the job is too tough or the pay scale pisses you off, get out of Dodge.   Your supervisor knows damned well if it is a ‘good gate’ or a ‘bad gate’ and is not going to hold it against you if you take an occasional  pass on a bad gate – especially if you have a good work record with past gates.  If you are a slacker by nature and whining comes natural,  your future in the oil patch is limited anyway.  You will be the one sitting at the yard, watching the RVs come and go as the assignments are handed out and whining/wondering why there is no work for you.

A word of advice for noobs-  a reputation gets established quickly in the oil patch.  Grab that first assignment like a pit bull on a wharf rat and don’t let go for nothing.  As a noob, you most likely will not get a great first gate right off the bat unless demand for gate guards is at one of the seasonal highs.  Establish your rep as a team that does not whine, takes care of business and requires little hand holding out in the field.   Gain the respect of your supervisor and service tech and the job itself will get easier because at that point you become a valued asset to the company.

Now, I just know this post is going to get somebody’s panties all wadded up.  I haven’t worried about kissin’ ass and keeping everybody happy since I throwed all the shiny shoes out of the closet a decade ago.   If the picture I painted this morning hit you right square between the eyes, maybe gate guarding ain’t your cup of tea Bunky.  I daresay you would probably be happier swamping out toilets at the KOA or slavin’  like a human robot at Amazon.   Miss K and I have thrown our lot in with these boys that go to town in oil streaked FRCs and have more tattoos than a Hell’s Angels convention.  It just sets right with us.

 

End Note:  Little Darling by Buddy and Julie Miller from the cd Best of the Hightone Years.   My post today has a hard edge to it.  Who better to go along with that than some hard core Buddy Miller.   I bet he is not a whiner!

 

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3 comments to No Whining!

  • Carol (nikki)

    AMEN, Andy!!! You are right on..quit the whining!! It seems everyone is trying to get on with SiteWatch(more money) and now they all are down on GGS.

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  • Ken

    You betcha!! The oil patch has no room for whiners. Been that way all my life. My dad always said, if you start whining about the work, you will be sittin on the couch and a hand will be taking your place. I was raised in the patch and worked all my life in it in one way or another and it never changed9and won’t).

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  • It’s “No Sniveling”!!!

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