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Plan B blowed up

The early years?

So there I was……….

Hangin’ out free in the RV park waiting on a new gate.  ‘Bout 2000 on Sunday night and I was at the laundromat washing clothes when I got the call.  Gate down south of Encinal (way south!) and they wanted me there at 0800-0900 in the AM.  Fairly typical notification without alot of info.  I asked they routine questions – What kind of gate is it?  and What does it pay? The answers to both questions were UNKNOWN. I reminded both my supervisors I had a dog and I was good to work anything except a frac gate.

It wasn’t that I thought I couldn’t work a frac gate;  I knew I couldn’t because I had already done a solo frac in the past and it was hell on earth even though I did get through it.  I was also several years younger at the time.

So I got all packed and hitched and pulled out of the RV park before daylight on Monday AM – just me and a little black dog. Hour and a half later I pulled up to the gate where one of my supervisors was working it out of his truck.  I asked him first off ‘What kind of gate is this? and he replied ‘I don’t know.’  That set my radar off because I really didn’t believe he had been working there for two hours and didn’t know.  I told him to unhook from the nurse trailer and get out of there – I had this.  He left me with one last instruction ‘The gates have to be closed at all times – oil company policy.’  Well alrighty!  The double panel high fence gates closed right over the middle of an oilfield pipe cattle guard with no safety catwalk.  The gates had been wide open the entire time since I arrived.

After he left, it took me all of 5 minutes to find out this was a frac. Sonofabitch!  I called the just departed supervisor to inform him of the fact and query again what the daily rate for the gate was.  He said ‘I’ll get back to you on that.’  I was beginning to suspect fuckery. If there is one thing I hate it is being taken advantage of, just a piece of meat to fill a slot with little consideration.

Working a frac job is a bitch not because of crew traffic, I figured out pretty quick my shift change was 430 to 700 twice daily and I could expect about 80 vehicles in and out during the shift swap.  The bitch of a frac  is the sand truck traffic that shows up pretty consistently all hours of the day or night.  By Wednesday I had figured out the consistent traffic patterns and I was operating on maybe one hour of uninterrupted sleep in 48 hours. Opening and closing that double gate was a BITCH in the wind trying to balance on top of those slick-ass oilfield pipes.  I had managed to fall through the cattle guard more than once.  My left leg was skint up pretty good above the ankle and I had twisted my right knee and it was mightily swelled up.  It is what it is – I needed to work.

During shift change I was closing the gate every 2-3 minutes in between vehicles and it was ridiculous.  I was tired and give out and hobbling around on a bum knee and I said screw it!  I sat outside during shift change and pinned the gates open.  As soon as I went 20 minutes with no traffic, I would shut the gates and go inside the RV.  It made the job almost tolerable.

I didn’t mention the gate was right off the I-35 service road and there was a train track directly across from me with a train about every 5 minutes that blew its’ horn long and loud for a crossing across the way. Not exactly a remote, secluded location.  On Wednesday afternoon during evening shift change I got a call from my other supervisor that one of the oil company guys had dropped a dime on me and he had driven by on the interstate and the gate was open………  I told the supervisor it was shift change and all he had to do was look at my iPad logs to see the volume of traffic I was dealing with.  I was doing all I could do.

On Thursday a gate guard for the same same company just up the road visited me.  It seems this same frac crew had just left his gate and he had some lost traffic showing up that he wanted to direct to the proper location.  Good man!  He was the talkative sort and readily divulged his daily pay rate – which was more than I had been making for this bunch in the past.  Same job; same pay, right?  Especially since him and his wife were Winter Texans vs. me being full time all the time on a gate.  That oughta count for something.

One thing lacking when I departed the RV park was dog food for Vela Von.  I had been unable to find her brand at any of the local stores.  The folks at the RV park told me they happily received Amazon packages and I ordered up two big bags of dog food – $115 dollars worth!  When I had to pull out, I asked my supervisor if he would mind bringing the dog food down the the gate on one of his regular visits and he said ‘no problem.’  Situation handled.

On Friday, I got another dime dropped on me for the gate being open and this time my supervisor threatened me with replacement if I didn’t square up.  I again explained to him it was shift change and I did not mention the unsafe work environment with the cattle guard.  There is no sniveling in the oil patch.

Early Saturday morning Vela Von and I were sitting outside with the gates open as shift change wound down.  My supervisor pulled in with a car following and informed me I was being replaced on the gate.  I said ‘Fired off the gate?’ and he said ‘No, replaced.  Just go back to the RV park and wait.’  I said ‘Fuck the RV park.’  In my world when the boss shows up unannounced and pulls you off a gate YOU ARE FIRED!

I hooked up and headed north toward the Secret Hideout.  This wasn’t exactly Plan C but I didn’t know what else to do.  After driving 375 miles absolutely exhausted,  I was positively manic when I pulled into the Hideout.  Thank God for My Bro being there for me.

Now, a week or more later, I am still pissed.  I was assigned a job I told one and all I could not do and then I was fired for not performing the impossible task.  How ironic is that?  The whole situation could have been handled SO much better.  With a smidgen of compassion, the bosses could have said ‘we have a frac gate and you are the only one available. Try and work it for a few days until we can get a team in there to take care of it.  We will pay you full rate in the meantime.’ After all, I would have been working for this outfit for 3 years come October,  was I not deserving of just a teeny bit consideration?  As it played out, they lied to me during the entire assignment because they figured I would bail out if the true facts were plainly laid out.  Maybe-maybe not,  I was half way through the frac when I got fired and still hangin’ in there.  Maybe I am just being a butt hurt whiner but it sure didn’t set good with me at all!

As it stands now,  I have applied to every oil field guard company I can think of with just a slight response.  I know I have a couple of strikes against me.  The oilfield gate guard business is set up for couples and I am single.  Single guards are being relegated to living in an RV park and working a 12hr shift in a guard shack somewhere down the road.  I won’t do that because of Vela Von.  The only thing she has ever known is following every step I make and I am not about to coop her up in the RV to spend 12hrs plus alone every day.  What kinda life would that be for a dog?

So if y’all know any companies looking for a solo guard with a few years of experience, please let me know. It seems the Facebook gate guard page is the clearing house for gate guard info but I do not do Facebook and that will not change.  I got some things to do around the Hideout and let the bad knee heel up some.  I am figuring I should be ready to go by October 1st.

I never did get my dog food. Everything happens for a reason, right?





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4 comments to Plan B blowed up

  • Linda Lallerstedt

    Seems like God had put you in a corner. Now where in heck is that window that’s supposed to open up??

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    • Andy

      Everything happens for a reason Linda. We just have to be smart enough to figure it out.

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  • Paul Dahl

    Holy Crap Andy! Obviously your company has forgotten their most valuable asset is their employees. Especially one who has been so dedicated and proven reliable over the last three years. They don’t deserve you.

    Hopefully a better gate will open up for you soon, you’re like a cat, always landing on your feet no matter what life throws at you. Hang in there, better days will be ahead.

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