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Complicating the Simple

I have a simple life with a very simple job. I smile and I write down names, license plate numbers and the time in and time out. I can’t really imagine anything more simple. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys and we have an easy camaraderie.

This isn’t the first time I’ve complicated the simple.

The less attractive aspects of the job are more environmentally specific than job related. If you follow Fork you know about most of them.

There’s the southern Texas wind which is alternately relentless or completely absent, the ever famous caliche and record breaking heat (2nd hottest March-May in Texas history).

For me, personally, there have also been: frozen pipes and flowerpot facilities (5th coldest streak in Texas history); the door that won’t open because of a broken latch or a leaning cow and the same door that won’t shut because of the weird tilt of the RV. Zero phone and internet service and laundry mats where I’ve forgotten to inspect the washers and pulled out drowned cockroaches with my jeans.

There have been herds of wild hogs, rooting around the RV that scream when the guys snare them at 2 am. There have been multiple tarantulas on foot and delivered in a crock pots and cans, scorpions and  snakes – but fewer than expected so far.

There’s been mysterious cigarette smoke from invisible people and other night-time visits from: the lost and inebriated, the cows, stray dogs, curious cable eating calves, raccoons, mad bulls, possums, a guard donkey, giant dive-bombing insects, armadillos, coyotes, skunks and ‘I’m not sure what just shook the bushes’…

It’s not the job, it’s the environment that’s challenging. Or so I thought.

When I take over the gate from Heidi, I scan the sheet to see who’s in and out and try to anticipate the traffic etc… I don’t think Heidi ever looks at my shift sheets. She’s more of a go with the flow, take it as it comes, type. And after all, it is a simple job. For 6 months, I’ve thought Heidi just wasn’t trying  real hard. We were continually recording different plates for the same guys.

I didn’t say anything, but lately I’ve been double checking. To my great surprise, she’s been right every time!

I’ve been having some trouble with my eyes, which is part of why I’m posting less often. I’m headed in my freon-free Jeep to Seguin to the eye Dr tomorrow to see if he can give me a little more clarity.

But I don’t think it’s going to help. I never liked math. I got As and Bs,  but I’m the only person I know that got all the way through Algebra I & II, Geometry, Trig and one semester of Calculus by memorizing every example and equation. And I’m a pretty poor speller, even though I was reading classics in junior high.

I’ve never been able to pick up the art of skimming. I read every is and the.  I accepted all these things long, long ago as a sign I should be a Psych major. I’ve always been able to smile and nod. 🙂

I took a picture of this yard sign in Nixon because I thought it was kind of funny. I don’t know a thing about the local politics, I just thought SAY NO TO SAWS had a ring to it.

The thing is, if  I saw it and had to write it down quickly (which is what we do at the gate) I would probably write something like SAY ON TO SWAS!!!

I know my license plate, but if I saw it for the first time, I’m likely to write 577 YUE or any combination of those numbers and letters. How could I just be finding this out in my 54th year? I might have gotten some mileage out of it when I was younger. Maybe I could have gotten out of some of those math classes.

It’s would be a simple job if I could just turn off the transposition key.

At least I can still smile and nod…


8 thoughts on “Complicating the Simple

  1. I get in an aircraft container every morning about 7:50 a.m. and unload 7000 to 10,000 lbs of freight. Then I get out on the road and drive 230-270 miles delivering freight. At a youthful 49 years old(and this is the best route I’ve ever had). And yet I’m leary about trying what you do! I’ve been told some companies will take on singles but how does one get a decent amount of sleep if you are woken every so often during the night? I’m fascinated by what you do, am tempted to find a wife just to do it, LOL. Gate guard that is. Guess this isn’t in the cards, but after 34 years of dealing with corporate America I haven’t seen many jobs that compare to what you do, if one is brave enough to just do it. Vaya con Dios!

    • Wade – I know a 60 yr old women who works the gate alone. There are also some companies who offer 12 hour gate jobs. There really are quite a number of singles in this business.
      It’s such a spurty job. 😀 Many nights I have very little traffic after 11 – maybe only a couple of trucks all night. Other nights there’s a good deal of traffic, it depends or the progress at the site. We TD’d today to I’m expecting it to be fairly quiet.
      If you request a site with only one hole, it isn’t that bad. If you work a gate alone, you might want to consider a RV w/a washer and dryer (but it isn’t essential). There are even companies that will bring you groceries if you want.
      I can’t begin to imagine what you’re doing now! I expect with your work load, as a gate guard, you would think you’d died and gone to a very hot heaven – it is HOT for about 9 months! Your new wife might not like the heat! lol …Remember, we only make $5.21 an hour, no taxes are withheld and certainly there are no benefits ( health care) etc… The counter to that is there is virtually no stress or conflicts and you’re immersed in an entirely different culture, which is fascinating. You can pay subs to watch your gate, either for a few hours or even to stay in your rig so you can get away overnight for a break.
      Whatever you decide – Buena suerte!

    • Oh Kathy, I don’t think there’s much doubt that I’m dyslexic, I’m just surprised I’ve lived so long without knowing it! Early on-set Alzheimer’s hasn’t been ruled out…

    • John – I never really liked the phrase, ‘misery loves company’ in it’s normal context. I shouldn’t like it now either but knowing that you and Jill have some of the same problems makes me feel a little better. That’s not very nice. but it’s true. 😉

  2. I don’t have the wild critter problem at night – which I am very thankful. I do have a serious problem with laundrymats – especially dirty laundrymats – which includes all of them in a 50 mile range. I won’t even touch the fact that the machines eat money and no one is around to reimburse me or the reaching in the water filled machine up to my armpits to move clothes to another washer as my original washer quit during the rinse cycle. No. I won’t touch on that – only raises blood pressure.

    As far as transposing numbers – good luck at the eye doctor. I had my eyes checked less than a year ago and graduated to trifocals with a promise of a new and brighter world. Didn’t happen – I keep transposing – that is if I can see the plate at all through the dust!!

    Yet we all maintain it is an easy job with good money, when in fact we all could be contestants on the tv show Survivor!! It certainly makes me wonder about what our lives were like in the real world!! LOL

    • Oh Jill! You’re too funny! and too true! This is an easy job compared too… well, I don’t know exactly. You’re so right! At least we can commiserate together. It’s just so peculiar I don’t think anyone who doesn’t do it can begin to imagine, no matter how much we write about it. It’s like living in a just slightly altered universe. Thanks for adding so much color to this post!! 😀

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