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40 Days and 40 Nights

We’ve been in Shiner for 40 days and 40 nights. Like Noah, when we arrived it was dry land and construction began. Unlike Noah, the rains never came, but the freeze did and we spent parts of 2 weeks with frozen lines and a flower-pot toilet.

After 40 days and 40 nights we’re deconstructing. Our site is coming down. Day and night, trucks are trundling away bits (literally) and pieces. This mass and mast of metal will be entirely gone in a few days.

Deconstruct means to dismantle. I’ve been gong through some deconstruction myself.

For starters, I’m living in one of the last places I would ever have expected to live. I live in Texas and if I don’t self-combust this summer, I expect I’ll be living in Texas for the next few years. This has required some dismantling.

I have flat hair and not a whole lot of it, so big hair is completely out of the question. I’m a Mid-Westerner,  in love with the ocean, living in  Texas, where  I’ll always be a Yankee. Being from Iowa, I’ve never thought of myself as a Yankee. I only recently became an Episcopal.

I now have an accent. People here say “I knew y’all was from the north cause of your accent”. I always thought one of the truly bland things about the mid-west was our lack of accent. Another misconception in need of dismantling.

I’m neither naturally suspicious or cautious. What I am is naturally friendly and clumsy. Which is why I don’t own a gun, concealed or otherwise. I can only sometimes remember to take my phone with me for emergency protection so I can shoot pictures of would be attackers with my HTC Surround during my daily walks with Henry.

Henry and I  try to avoid unnecessary confrontations by never veering off the dirt road and keeping a vigilant eye out for: men walking with backpacks large enough to accommodate assault weapons; feral pigs and wild boars; rattlesnakes; arachnids (so far I’ve only seen black widows on our generator, but there’s a significant tarantula and brown recluse population); bulls (all cattle upset Henry, but the bulls are preoccupied with the lady cows right now); coyotes (I’ve only seen 2 in the day time but I do hear them singing at night); scorpions (I leave the rocks alone) and jumpy armadillos. Watching for all these potential attackers keeps me from enjoying the scenery which consists of trucks, mesquite, cows and cactus.

Then there is the issue of dirt. I don’t like dirt.  Enough said. My idea of clean now is to take a shower after walking Henry since I come back looking like I applied a nice even layer of Coppertone. I’m beyond dismantling on this one.

I’m a gate guard with level 2 security clearance. My bright orange vest says so. When I was 22, I quit my job as a correctional workers after 6 months, but not before I’d furnished an entire apartment for a resident, in for her 3rd DUI, who pawned everything for booze two days after release. Clearly I’m both tough and street smart.

Gate Guarding is a 24/7 job. I work evenings and overnight. I have sleep issues. I have about every sleep issue there is: RLS, PLM, sleep apnea and a mild case of narcolepsy. I’ve never been able to sleep if I were too hot or my nose was too cold; if the room was too light or if there was any noise at all. I sleep from 6 a.m. to around 2 p.m. in the hot middle of the bright daytime in a bed 8 feet from a cattle crossing which is continually rattled by giant trucks. I’m sleeping well.

Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always had a close circle of friends that I shared my thoughts and my heart with. These special people have always been women. I like men. As a matter of fact, I was just confirmed as a friend of C.S. Lewis (who has been dead sice 1962) on Facebook last week. The requirements for friendship stated “you must have a personal relationship”.

I also like many men who aren’t dead. However, men are rarely conversant in areas of the emotional exhaustion, motherhood or the woes of menopause, so while I like them, they’ve never been in my coffee-klatch. Can you feel the deconstruction coming?

I live on an oil rig site. The world outside of my RV is composed entirely of men. The few women that work in sales on well sites come in the daytime while I’m sleeping. Except for Heidi, the only time I even see another woman is during my every other week trip to the laundry mat where men still out number the women. I don’t know if that’s because single men don’t own washers and single women do? Maybe the laundry mat is a magical place for men, just like in the detergent commercials. A guy dreams of starting to wash whites and darks together when a lovely lady saves him from pink boxers, which inevitably ends with a romantic dinner.

Anyway, my entire social circle is now male: old men and young men and in-between aged men. Lots and lots of men. There are the 20-30 that saty on site, many who work in 7 day rotations so that number is really doubled. And then there’s the other 30-50 that make up our daily gate traffic: the drivers, the repairmen, the welders, the ranchers, the inspectors, the supervisors etc…

Our Company Man, Jimbo, was clearly at a loss when we showed up for work 40 days ago. He looked at us, kept shaking his head and told us to come back in the afternoon after the sand/clay was spread for our pad.

Gate Guard Services will usually give you a couple of hours notice before your gate shuts down and you have to leave. You never know how long it will be between jobs or where the company will send you next. Last time we had a day to go to Wal-Mart and a day to drive to the next site. This time it’s different. We’ve known for a couple of days that our site is finishing up. We’re ready to  roll out on Monday.

We even know where we’re going. We’re moving from Shiner to Smiley (they give their little towns such happy names here in Texas). We didn’t really want to go to Smiley. We were hoping to go NE instead of SW.  But with all the deconstruction going on, our guys are going to Smiley and so, so are we. Jimbo was willing to keep us. Gate Guard Services approved it. I’ve had just the right amount of dismantling to be pleased.

I don’t know what the next 40 days and 40 nights will bring. There are a lot of armadillos in Texas. I haven’t seen one yet.  I’m thinking of asking the guys where the nearest armadillo race is. They know about things like that. I’m told armadillo racing involves getting on the ground and blowing on the south end of a north bound 9- banded critter, encouraging him to victory. Sounds like a true Texas experience! I’m just learning about armadillos. I guess they can jump 3–4 feet straight up in the air if sufficiently frightened. Looks like Henry and I have some exciting walks ahead!

7 thoughts on “40 Days and 40 Nights

  1. We are thinking of doing gatekeeping during May, June and July. Going back to Michigan for two months and coming back in November. Are you staying for summer?

    • We’ll see how we survive our first Texas summer, but yes, we plan on staying year round. Being from Iowa, we’re used to heat and humidity, just not quite to the degree it hits here! Our Company Man said yesterday that they’ll probably be here (Texas?) for another 8 years and why don’t we just plan on staying with them? 🙂 Although I appreciate the invitation, I think 2-3 will probably be enough! Keep in touch. I’d love to hear your experiences!

  2. Good luck with “Smiley”. Glad you are ging to another friendly place, lol. How great is it that Jimbo ask for you! Maybe you will see an armadillo? I haven’t seen one either. All the other desert critters-I’ve seen them in DUSTY Tucson. (I”m not a fan of dirt either, but—-)
    I always thought you were the corordinated one!! You did all the sports. Daddy told me I couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time, lol. We are both friendly and lack suspicion, which gets us into awkard situations. Oh well—-
    Lots of love to you 3!!

    • We moved 50 miles and it’s like a different country! it really look like Spring which is nice. It’s pretty woody/swampy here but still with plenty of cacti! Weird. The gate guard a mile or so up the road from us killed a 5 foot rattlesnake today. That’s not quite a s nice. :/
      It’s nearly midnight and I’ve been watching (and hearing) a non-stop cattle parade for 45 minutes. I didn’t realize cows were so nocturnal.
      Yep, I did used to be pretty coordinated but I seem to tip over a lot anymore. 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Kit. We have a lot of lurkers, and really love it when someone is brave enough to say something. Sometimes even though we know we have readers because of the stats, we feel like we’re shooting our thoughts into the dark! Again, thanks! It looks like you are also going to be following your company. Good deal. We really like Jimbo, our comany man. We were honored he asked us to go along and the guys here are really nice to us. They offer to run errands for us when they go to town. We are liking the job a lot!

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