Home » Gate Guarding » I’m Exhaust-ed

I’m Exhaust-ed

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation. ~Author Unknown

I’m not tired, I’m exhausted. On the other hand, the gate guard my friend met at the laundry mat yesterday is tired. She’s tired because she and her husband work 15 minute shifts, around the clock. No kidding!
He has some sleep issues (similar to mine) which are treatable with meds, which he forgot to fill when they decided on the spur of the moment to drive 1800 miles to Corpus to be gate guards. She says he can only sleep 15 minutes at a time so they literally work 15 minute shifts.

People! Truly, gate guarding is not a spur of the moment type of job. Once you strip away all the glitz and glamor (our free utilities and our pre-tax salary of $5.21 an hour), you’re left with the reality of the Texas heat (it was 91 here yesterday and 101 in Laredo), giant bugs in your hair, tiny gnats in your ears, beetles in your t-shirt, moths in your coffee, bees, mice, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, un-reclusive brown recluses, scorpions, caliche etc… Some days it’s a lot to contend with, but that’s not why I’m exhausted.

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We’re at the crossroads of a oil company mini-mart here On The Edge of Glory Absolutely Nowhere. The 6 padlocks on our gate are a mystery. No one knows why there are 6 and no one here has the key to any of them. They’ve become kind of symbolic though.

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We’re guarding a drilling rig. I didn’t say I would never write about gate guarding again, just not all the time. Larry’s still simmering on the back burner. 😀

We get paid for guarding 1 rig but we have the traffic of 6 operations.

If you come in our gate and turn left, you (1) go the site where they’re busy building a new production plant. If you pass through our gate and turn right, you could be going to (2) our rig; or (3) to the site they’re preparing for fracing; or (4) to the mud farm; or (5) to the pad that’s being built for another drilling rig scheduled for week after next; or (6) to the water pond where the pipes burst last night.

We only keep a record of the folks going to our rig, but we have to talk to all who enter here. But that’s not why I’m exhausted.

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This is the first time we’ve worked for this oil company. Everyone seems nice enough. The procedure is a little different. They require each person sign in. Then, on the way out, they have to stop again, find the line with their in-coming signature (which can be many, many lines or pages ago) and initial across from it, checking the box saying that they weren’t injured.

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It’ll get easier once we get it down. Possibly we wouldn’t have stuck a purple pen on the board if we’d known the guys were going to be signing themselves in and out. 😀

This signing out process requires some extra work.

First, I clamber up the side of the semi, hanging on with one hand and passing the board with the other.

Next, we begin shouting at each other over the roar of the diesel. I shout in Yankee English and the drivers shout back at me in Southern English or Spanish or Italian or Cajun or possibly a combination.

Then, there’s the inevitable ensuing pantomime that’s required to convey the idea I just want their initials and a check mark in the yellow I didn’t get hurt while I was here box.

But that isn’t why I’m exhausted.

I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.  ~ Thomas Carlyle

I’m exhausted because I have a Fan-Tastic Vent (fan). You may remember that it scared me to death last fall, the first time it opened up all by itself and turned on in the dark, in the middle of the night, while the coyotes were howling and Darth Vader was sighing.

This peculiar ceiling device is thermostatically controlled and can push air out or suck air in. Because I’m gadget reluctant and have zero control issues, I’ve been letting it choose what it wanted to do, at will.

Fan-Tastic Vent will exchange the air in your vehicle in minutes. Cooking smoke and unpleasant aromas are whisked away in seconds.

Fan-Tastic Vent can reduce the use of air conditioning allowing you to breath natural, fresh ambient outside air.

Heidi and I have both been sick ever since we got to this site. We have a busy gate with tons (purposeful pun) of big trucks. I finally figured out what’s wrong with us. We’re exhaust – ed. The Fan-Tastic Vent, while cheerfully opening up to suck in the fresh ambient air, has been fumigating us. The same thing happened to a friend at a gate down the road.

To know that which before us lies in daily life, is the prime Wisdom; what is more, is fume, or emptiness, or fond impertinence. ~ John Milton

If you’re at a gate (or a truck stop) and begin feeling a little queasy, take heed. Milton was a wise man, but he didn’t know a lot about diesels.


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20 thoughts on “I’m Exhaust-ed

  1. Holy crap! You’re being killed by diesel fumes, right? What a job! OH, and checking out … i heart ya. It’s like the government buildings that require sign in and out. Erm, there are like 3000 people on the list by the time you find yourself aaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    I’m glad you get to CHECK the box that you weren’t hurt at this site (so far) … except for questionable oxygen. Which is no small matter.

    TAKE CARE YOU GUYS!!! xoxox melis

    • Hi melis – it was a slow, but we sure were getting sick.
      Much better after 2 days of shut windows with the air cranked up (it’s still 85 at almost 9 p.m.)
      You’re right, we can check the yellow box – not that anyone down here cares. 😉
      We’re as “fine as cream gravy” to quote a guy who just came in blew a little diesel steam my way!
      Debbie

  2. Sure hope you are both feeling better!! We did love our Fantastic, but—–
    Saw my very first rattler last week. It is illegal to kill them in AZ, so Andrea sent a guy to catch it and remove it. It was relly quite pretty from a distance,lol.
    Take care, Feel better!!
    Lots of Love and Hugs!!!!!!! Sis

    • Hi Sis!
      We haven’t seen one on this site yet, but I know some folks down a little further south that said the guys killed 25 on their drill site. I don’t know if the guys were stretching it a bit or not. They did present my friends with a rattle to keep.
      You can kill EVERYTHING in Texas – I think!
      But, I would be terrible at it since I won’t even kill the mice in the sticky traps. Heidi on the other hand has no issues with killing…
      Just sayin’ … 😀
      Deb

  3. Hmmm–so maybe that ballad-hero cowboy lying on the street in Laredo, all wrapped in white linen–didn’t die from a bullet after all; could a been he was heat-prostrated, exhausted and fumigated, after not completing the form correctly… Goodness, Sis–praying you’re alright. Sending love and wishes for you a most-blessed Easter Week! love, sis Caddo S.G.

    • Caddo – Funny you should say that! Of course, every time they mention Laredo on the weather map, I start singing the song (silently – usually) and all last summer, I pictured him on the ground with heat stroke before he had time to draw his gun!
      We’re fine – just need a little less ‘fresh air’! 😉
      Debbie

  4. We have the same Fan-tastic Fans, but we are unaware that they bring in air. Ours only exhaust air unless we are missing something. You guys be safe this summer. We are on our way to Idaho for our campground job.

    • Hi Sue!
      Ours definitely goes both directions. Sometimes it’ll be blowing out and change it’s mind and start sucking in (I assume this is based on the temps in the kitchen). 😀
      God speed as your travel to Idaho! I hope your summer is grand!
      Debbie

  5. I knew that magnet that is sewn under your skin – would attract a few more mishaps along the way.

    At our gate we had 2 gravel pits with over 300/400 round trips of gravel trucks in/out. We didn’t have to log them – but just the same had to go check to see what was ringing the “bell”. They started at 5am quit around 9pm 7 days a week. Talk about making rough roads rougher along with lots of dust flying ever which way.

    Batten down that Fan-Tastic Vent!!! Where are you that you find fresh air, anyway. We were parked too close to rig, cattle and other varmits to get fresh air.

    Take care now – oh jumping up and down should be good exercise for your diet. Can’t say it helped mine any.

    • Hi Mickey!
      Better than a stairmaster!
      There isn’t any fresh air – that was just the language from the add for the fan.
      The air is a combo of perpetual diesel fumes, fumes from our generator, and tonight fumes from the septic that isn’t pumping quite right. 😉
      Debbie

  6. Debbie: Was tonight’s post an “April Fool’s”? Because I can’t imagine working 15 minute shifts and the whole spur of the moment thing, either. Regarding the padlocks you are talking about, at our last gate we had the same exact situation. Can’t remember the reasoning for them, and no one had keys to them except one padlock, and we had the combination to it. All of the rest of the holes had locks in them. Also, on our last gate, we would have some people taking one route to the water well, some going a different route to the pad, some going a different route to the ranch (ranch manager, ranch hands and hunters in and out multiple times) and some talking another different route to the pumping stations and some going a different route to the frac pond and then the pipeliners going every which direction, etc. We had to log them all in and out. And we had to have everyone read and sign the ranch rule form. So we really do understand what you are talking about. We also have a fan like you are talking about, but have it set on manual so it won’t go on and off by itself. What’s really cool, too, is that when it starts raining, it shuts itself off and closes, (not that it rains enought to worry about here in South Texas). Another great post. Thanks.

    • Penny –
      I did finally get the thermostat set.
      I do love the fact that it closes itself in the rain, 😀 unlike the regular crank one in the bathroom. That’s made for a surprisingly wet seat when I didn’t turn on the light at night! 😉

      Seriously. When my friend told me the laundry mat story, I said:
      What do you mean they work 15 minute shifts?!
      She said that’s exactly what she asked the kind of cranky (no wonder) tired woman and that was her answer. No kidding!
      I said: Do you mean they really only sleep for 15 minutes at a time?
      Yep.
      When I told Heidi, she said:
      What do you mean they work in 15 minutes shifts?! 😀
      We’re all amazed…
      Debbie

  7. I so enjoy reading your post. Oh how truthful this is far from a glamorus job. We killed a rattlesnake yesterday first one we’ve seen and I hope the last. I so agree in regards to there is more traffice after the rig and I really think they need to pay us more for that. We have freinds that were working for Timekeepers and they pay differently. They take out taxes and they pay more for each time you have to open the gate at night. Our friends have worked for GGS as well but they averaged $1000 a week for Timekeepers, something to think about. Someone said GGS is getting sued for not paying us as much as other companies are paying. You guys be safe. Keep the post coming, enjoy hearing what others are doing. I don’t know how that couple is doing this sleeping every 15 min. We do 12 hour shifts so we can each get some much needed sleep. Take care.

    • Hello Cheryl!
      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I think GGS is on the low end of the pay scale but, in my experience, top notch in terms of taking care of their gate guards. 😀
      I have absolutely no idea how those poor people can make it sleeping 15 minutes at a time. They’re new. I can’t imagine they’ll last long unless they find a way to get more rest.
      I’d be hallucinating after about 2 days!
      No snakes at the gate…yet. Sure hope that was your one and only!
      Debbie

  8. Hi Debbie:

    Still following along. So glad you 2 are back to guarding. Just a rather dumb question from outsiders looking in.
    What do you guarders do with those all important log sheets?? Does the CM collect them., or you folks squirrel them away, in case they’re ever needed?
    BTW, had our first yard sale Sat,. Now to list home sometime soon. Stay safe ladies

    Tom & Cathy
    Utah

    • Wow, Tom! That’s great!
      So you’re really going to do it! 😀

      In answer to your question: with Marathon, they swing by and pick up our sheets at least once a week – sometimes twice.
      With Forest and PetroHawk, we kept them until the end of the job (hole) and gave them to our GGS supervisor who made a copy for GGS and gave the originals to the CM.

      I get the feeling that some companies use them primarily in case of an accident or emergency and others keep a very close eye on who comes and goes and exactly how long each person stays.

      I hope your home sells quickly.
      It’s always great to hear from you!
      Keep me posted,
      Debbie

    • Debbie, thanks for the reply.

      Another one. Not sure if DW could climb up to the semi windows with clipboard. Is that a problem?

      • Tom – 😀
        Heidi doesn’t either.
        I had to climb up last night and put eye drops in a guy’s eyes for him. Generally I try to stay on the ground. Never sure if I’m in more danger climbing on the truck and falling off or walking in front of them (which they insist on) and getting run over. 😉
        Debbie

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