Home » Gate Guarding » When Things Went South

When Things Went South

Since we last talked, things including but not limited to us, have gone south. The actual origin of the phrase, going south is a little uncertain, although it’s universally understood as going bad. Here’s a summary of what I found @ wise Geek.com.

One idea is that when sales or the market numbers are good, they rise toward the top of a chart (North geographically), and when they’re bad when they flow toward the bottom (South). Another explanation, which is much more popular in the North than in the South, is that after the Civil War, the South seemed to be associated with losing. Now that I’m living in Texas, I don’t think I’ll use that one. πŸ˜€

The phrase is thought to have originated in England, sort of.Β  People didn’t say that things were going south, instead they referred to a worsening situation as going west. Possible explanations:

1. The sun sets in the west.

2. Stories of prisoners from London traditionally heading west to the gallows.

This didn’t work as well for Americans who were fond of saying Go west, young man! where the West was associated with a place to seek one’s fortune. Over time, going west became going south which is now used by all around the world, except not so much here in Texas. πŸ˜€

To pacify you true Southerners, no one says things are going north to indicate a great improvement in circumstances! Anyway, just before things went south, we spent 2 weeks in Whitsett, waiting for our plumb assignment. We continued to meet nice folks there. More newbies:

Linda and Bobbie (Jim and Jim missed the photo op)

We got a kick out of Mary and Darrel from Arizona. Such fun folks!

Finally, after 2 weeks, the gate we’d been waiting for opened up. Jamie said to be ready at 9 a.m. so of course we were ready at 7:30 (1st law of gate guarding, always be ready hours or days ahead of when you expect to move). Mark was there to move us at 8:00.

Heidi and Mark setting up our ‘permanent digs’

The oil company was Murphy (nice folks by the way). The gate was expected to be easy. It was our first non-24 hour gate. Open it at 6 a.m. and close it at 8 p.m. according to Wayne and Barbara (the folks we replaced). It seemed so right, but right away, went so wrong!

They’re building a plant so the job security was great. It looked like a place we could stay for a year or two. The scenery wasn’t much, but gate guards are used to that.

After 14 months in this business, we’re considered seasoned gate guards. Not experts, just seasoned.Β  But this time, we made some first-timer errors. The fact that the same couple had been at the gate for 4 months and that our FS had phone service gave us a false sense of security. We didn’t want to spend the money to drive 100 miles to check the gate. Big mistake.

Mark got us set up and drove off. We got out our computers. No internet. We have both Verizon and AT&T internet cards and a Wilson booster… nada.

Heidi made a call to AT&T on her phone. They said we were way too far from any towers (and that the internet and the phone towers are separate).Β  The call was apparently a fluke, because we couldn’t call out again from the RV – to anyone.

I closed the gate at 8 as instructed only to have guys coming and going until after 11. I stayed up until at least midnight every night and slept like you do when you have a newborn – half way awake, listening for the bell. The padlock was terminally jammed so it was kind of, sort of locked. Heidi got up at 5, which was good since we had people on site by 5:15.

The second day, neither phone worked. My phone found this to be so discouraging that it simply quit altogether and it’s bits faded from view until none could be found. It’s now in the AT&T recycle center.

After 5 trips to Fowlerton (pop. 62) to call the office, we finally got a hold of Jamie and asked for a replacement. 50 miles from a grocery store or Walmart was fine; but 50 miles from a cell tower, not so much. We couldn’t even call 911. That was on Monday.

Jamie said he’d have someone there Tuesday unless we could wait until Wednesday. No problem. Tuesday, Larry came by to say they could have someone there at noon on Thursday. No problem, although I was starting to feel like we were playing out a cheeseburger scene between Popeye and Wimpy.

The traffic from 97 was non-stop and so loud that we had to raise our voices to hear each other, which made Henry VIII think we were yelling, so he threw-up in his bed. Hmm…

Henry in his post-crisis mode

You know the old saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Yep. It was. Wednesday evening, we looked out the window at the ditch to see a river running through it. The liquid (something – never quite sure what since it was bubbling) was racing toward the RV.

Pre-flood photo

It was too dark to take a picture by the time we finished trying to build a little rock dam to stop the flood. Heidi drove into Fowlerton to call the only number we had for someone associated with the rig, since the CM wasn’t on site.

A really nice guy came out, crawled around in the dark and found a partially open valve of the something… and stopped the flow about 20 feet from the RV.

We were told to be ready to switch out the gate at noon on Thursday. We hitched up, just past dawn, in the drizzle in 3 minutes! Heidi says she’ll never time it again, since she doesn’t want the pressure to do it any faster. πŸ˜€

We had just turned around and pulled out of the spot at 7:30 when the new gate guards arrived. Larry was there by 8:30, and by the time we were have supposed to be ready to leave at noon,Β  we were already set up in a little RV park south of Seguin.

The 3 hour trip was uneventful, except that we apparently were the target of a random tire-stone- toss. We were already waiting to see ifΒ  the RV shop in Houston could move our repairs (from my palm tree tango) up a week or so. Of course, now they have to see how long it will take Coachman to ship out the window from Indiana. πŸ™‚

Otherwise, all is well. We’ll use the time off to tackle taxes. Don’t ask. We don’t know anything yet. We’re talking to a CPA to help us out this year. I may continue to write here at Fork, but since we’re not on a gate, I’ll be writing about rather random topics. If you only read here for gate guard info, please check the side bar for other gate guard blogs. πŸ˜€

29 thoughts on “When Things Went South

  1. One of the best things about being a independent contractor is we can pick and choose what jobs we want and what jobs we do not want. For example in gate guarding, one gate might be one person’s slice of heaven while another person might find it unacceptable. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Just means people have different ideas and needs. Neither person is wrong and no one needs to be headed off to the rv park unless that is their desire. What a boring world it would be if everyone thought the same way.

    As far as blogs go, some people find them entertaining and very informative. Some people do not. Doesn’t mean any of them are “poor”. The beauty of a blog is if you come across one you do not wish to read because you disagree or just are not interested, with one click of the button it is gone!! No need to be nasty – just click!!

    Life is good.

  2. worked that gate and you all just got to have internet and yes we put up with the road noise and that rig was going to be out thursday and gate guarding aint about posting your poor blog it is about a job and maybe a bunch of you just need to workcamp in a rv park

    • Mike and Casey – No worries, dear friends! It’ll all work out!
      ~ Debbie
      (always nice to hear from you Mike, even if you are one of few words) πŸ˜€

  3. First of all I would like to say that your blog is great and full of info. The DW and I are discussing this type of work so may I ask a few questions. First on this post you got a gate and didn’t like it and left. Why didn’t the company give you another gate? Or are you put on the back of the list? Second we travel with our daughter and would this be an issue gate guarding? Thanks in advance.


    • Hi Toots! πŸ˜€
      We would have been placed at another gate, eventually, except that we’d already asked for time off beginning the 16th for RV repairs. We’ve never left a gate before. I can’t imagine that we’ll do it again (we will be sure to check our phone and internet service first next time). Many gate guards travel with family members. I don’t know any reason why that would be a negative at all.
      Best wishes to you 3!
      ~ Debbie

  4. Oh, sis–and I thought I was having a hard week! So sorry about everything–and for adding to your “un-sunny emails”. I love hearing the details, gives me more of a “feel” and motivates me to pray fervently. Much love to you, BIG HUGS–God bless y’ real good! (Hoping things go north–I may just start saying that, to mess with people’s heads!)

    • Caddo – LOL! Heidi just said last night, “Looks like things are going north” when she got word she has a renter for her house in Iowa! Maybe if we all start saying it, it’ll catch on! πŸ˜‰ They think we’re a little ‘odd’ down here anyway, so may as well confirm it!
      Thanks for the hugs and prayers!

  5. Our first gate was in Tilden on Marshall Rd. 3 weeks with no signals for internet or phone. After getting 2 Wilson Booster, still had dropped calls and no signal for internet.
    It was not any fun living like that. We have a good gate, only thing is field in front and back of us. No gravel on pad or road. Have to take Pursey for a walk at the park or picnic area. She is doing great since surgery. Stiches out in 10 to 14 days. Her whole belly looks like it is stches.

  6. hi. sor sorry this assignment did not work out. i miss keeping up with you through your blog entries….will try and be better at commenting. love you, gaye

    • Hello dear Gaye – I’m a terrible corespondent, but I think of you with so much love and gratitude! Maybe the next gate will be a keeper! πŸ˜‰

  7. So sorry to hear about your gate misfortune. Don’t blame you though. I can’t be without phone or Internet. That’s too much isolation!

    Good luck on your taxes and repairs. We have several windshield dings to get fixed on both the rig and the car. We got them on our trip down to Carrizo Springs.

    • Hi Vicky – I don’t mind being in remote locations or even driving an hour to get groceries but I won’t stay somewhere with no internet, although we would have stayed until the RV repairs on the 20th. The no phone service was the deal breaker. Didn’t feel safe and it just didn’t seem smart.
      Hope all is well with you guys!

  8. I really do enjoy your blogs on a gate or not, I would like to see your response to my latest blog, at Gatemaster.org . A good cause for you to champion. I just don’t have the finesse you have. The post is called “Our Rights, or are they” and while you’re there check out the buttermilk ranch chicken recipe, it’s really yummy!

  9. I love the history lessons on words, phrases. Liz has become the expert in the M family. Jeesh, who am i kidding Don, Liz, Lauren … blah blah blah the M family.

    Anyway. I like the explanation of going West: from London to the gallows, Or the British could be sticking it Further to the Irish by suggesting that going west was going to Galway! Hell on earth ;-). NOT.

    So happy you’re back. So sorry there’s so much noise, and Henry had a barf! Yuck. Missing you guys. Glad to hear from you!! xoxo melis

    • hello melis – We’re always ‘a long ways from nowhere’, but it doesn’t bother us when we have internet and phones. Without both, it feel like a REAL long ways!
      Glad to be back in the world or bits and bites.

  10. WOW! I was just thinking today, enough! I miss reading Debbie’s words. My, what a week you’ve had. At first I was happy to read you wouldn’t be working the night shift but then I read on. I’ll be praying a little more for you, Heidi and Henry these next few days.

    • Hello Debby! Although the last gate didn’t work out, we both miss working (and miss the income). We’re trying to just relax a little. After a year of drought, it’s rained all day every day since we left the gate so we haven’t been getting out much. πŸ˜‰
      Heading to the Texas bayou on Tuesday. Maybe that will provide some extra excitement! πŸ˜‰
      We are always so grateful for your prayers,

  11. Was wondering what was up with you guys after not seeing a blog post in so long. Please keep posting as we all want to know about you two as individuals ant not just because you are gate guards.

    • Bobbie – It was so fun to finally meet you!
      Thank you for you sweet encouragement. I don’t think we’ll be back on a gate until the end of the month – hopefully sooner – depends on the repair schedule. As you saw, I did a bit of damage! I’ll keep writing from time to time anyway. Can’t seem to help myself. πŸ˜€

    • Hello girls! Henry sends his kind regards and wants you to know he’s fully recovered now that we’re in a quiet little park and have quit shouting at each other! πŸ˜‰

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