Home » Full Time RVing » Gig on a Rig Tip #1: Be Flexible

Gig on a Rig Tip #1: Be Flexible

Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.                       ~ W. Somerset Maugham

Do you remember the 1995 movie starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman called While You Were Sleeping? In the movie, a guy wakes up from a coma to find he has a fiance (Bullock) and a life that he doesn’t remember. He wakes up in a whole new world.

That’s a lot like working nights as a gate guard on an oil rig, except for the coma and the fiance part. I usually go to bed around 6:30 in the morning and when I wake up, 6-8 hours later, it’s very possible my world will have rotated sideways.

You get used to it like you get used to the way the Big Dipper hangs at the wrong angle in the sky down here.

For years, Heidi and I taught a seminar on change called: As Long As You’re Green You’re Growing… But As Soon As You’re Ripe You Rot.

If you’re going to be happy as a gate guard, you need to stay green.

That brings me to my first tip on a Gig on a Rig: You Have To Be Flexible

You may get a 3 week assignment that lasts for 3 months. You may go to sleep believing that you’re about to be moved to Smiley and wake up to find you’re headed 300 miles north to Paradise instead. Smiley’s a long way from Paradise!

Even though I taught seminars about it, I haven’t been a huge fan of change. There’s something comforting to me in the knowable and the predictable. Gotta tell you, this job isn’t that.

Take this past week as an example.

  • I went to sleep last Thursday morning thinking I had the next 4 years all planned out, following this great rig, with these great guys, working for a great oil company
  • I woke Thursday afternoon to the news that our rig was stacking, the yards and parks and campgrounds were all full and we would be out of work in a week with no place to stay
  • I went to sleep Friday morning, wondering how to find a spot for the RV
  • I woke up Friday afternoon to news that fellow gate guards had offered to let us stay in their spot in a lovely RV park for as long as needed (we’ve only met once) – now that’s kindness
  • I went to bed Saturday morning feeling encouraged that we had a place to park

I don’t think a whole lot changed on Superbowl Sunday. I guess it did for fans of the Ravens and the 49ers, but not so much for me.

  • I went to bed Monday morning  counting down the 3 days until our job ended and we left for the RV park
  • I woke up Monday afternoon to the news that we had a new job, 35 miles away with our same oil company but new Company Men and drilling rig
  • I went to bed Tuesday morning with plans to meet the gate guards we’d be replacing to get the lay of the land on Saturday
  • I woke up Tuesday afternoon to find out we wouldn’t be done here until Sunday so we couldn’t meet anyone on Saturday
  • I went to bed Wednesday morning, grateful for a new job and a few more days with this rig
  • I woke up Wednesday afternoon to the news we wouldn’t be done until here until Tuesday
  • I went to bed Thursday morning (yesterday) thinking the two moves were in sync since the other gate guards would be finishing up on Tuesday
  • I woke up Thursday afternoon to find out that we now had two job offers – our Company Man had been given a new rig and put the call in for us to join him
  • I’ll go to bed this morning knowing that we’re moving 90 miles instead of 40, that we’re moving south instead of west, that we’re rejoining the Company Man we’ve loved working with for a year now, instead of starting over with a new rig… at least I’ll go to sleep thinking that I know all that

I have no idea what I’ll wake up to this afternoon. I’ll get up, start the coffee and hold my breath until Heidi’s done filling me in on how my world has changed – While I Was Sleeping.

29 thoughts on “Gig on a Rig Tip #1: Be Flexible

  1. Pingback: Gig on a Rig (Footnote): Don’t Worry Be Happy « FORK IN THE ROAD

  2. Oh Debbie, you are so right. I’m so glad you keep your sense of humor through all of the changes. We have learned this year that you can’t take anything in life too seriously. Glad things seem to be working out for you job wise. 🙂

    • Heidi – Hard to believe that you wrote that yesterday afternoon. How many changes have we had since then? 3? 4? 😀
      Just keep telling me when to go where and I’ll try to keep up!

  3. Oh, the wonderful life of gate guarding….you got to love it!!! We are going through some of the same things….but I love change so it’s ok with me.

    • Bobbie –
      Bless your heart! I wish I could say that I love change. I don’t hate it anymore, but I’m still a ways away from loving it!
      However – we have a job that we like with an oil company that we like with a CM that is really, really good to us so a little change won’t hurt me. 😀

  4. So thankful you get to stay with the same guys! 🙂 But wow .. .that has got to be a little crazy making! haha! God bless you and cover you always and everywhere! love ya!

    • Hello Debbie –
      We’re only joining up with our Company Man – we won’t know anyone else and he’ll be off when we start with the rig so it’ll be all new. I’m getting better at that than I used to be! The CM work 2 on and 2 off. He’s done on Wednesday of this week, so we’ll be there a week or so before he gets back.
      At least that’s what I’m thinking tonight. By tomorrow all could change!
      We were so hoping another company would pick up our drilling rig but found out that isn’t going to happen. They’ll be laying it down which means all of our guys are out of work.
      A few have jobs with other rigs but most don’t yet. Sad.
      We’re heading south so I may get some good snake and scorpion and tarantula photos for Aub! 😀

  5. Love it. I have been thinking of you. Really thought something would come up for 2 wonderful GG women. At least Heidi doesn’t wake you to tell you what is going on. Enjoy your new location.

    • Hi Linley!
      Thank you.You’re so kind!
      Heidi often makes the mistake of telling me everything while I’m still brushing my teeth and haven’t made coffee yet… which usually leads to telling me twice! ;D
      But, no, she doesn’t wake me up to tell me and I’m grateful!
      Today’s news was that we’re heading back down south, right where we first started and said we’d never go again! Shows what we know, huh? 😉

  6. Excellent post, Debbie–and miraculously good news that, not only are you working, but you’ll still be with the guys you knew and liked. Praising and thanking God for His unchanging, enduring faithful LOVE! Love from this sis, to y’all, and my Henri–Caddo Delight-ed, S.G.

    • Hello Caddo Delight-ed!
      There’ll only be one person that we know but if your only going to know one person on a rig, the Company Man is THE one to know since he makes all the life impacting decisions (like whether we get a pea gravel pad or thrown in a mud field etc…).
      Sammy told us the day he left that he’s get us back and he was true to his word for which we’re most grateful!
      Henri sends his most humble regards.

  7. Oh my gosh! How fantastic for you! I know the world SPINS or is it “The World Turns”, but this, my dear is REALLY SPINNY!

    As “crazy-making” as all of this is, I am pleased for my Southern Gate Guard SA somewhere in the South of some big -ole state.

    COOL as can be! XO MEL

    • Hello Mel!
      As it turns out, we’re heading a lot somewhere further south than we’d expected but our CM keeps an eye on us, so all is well.
      Sorry I’ve been out of touch. Zero internet expect for brief flashes with my Kindle.

    • Hello Sue!
      Oregon is calling but we’ve had to put her on hold for a few more years!
      We’re grateful for the work and the kindness of our CM to request us.
      Sending Heart Hugs back to you!

    • Hello dear Judi!
      We’ll be with the Company Man that we started on this rig with nearly a year ago. Everyone else will be new to us, which isn’t a big deal – but we’ll be new to them – which can be a bit of a surprise to the guys at first! 😉
      People usually get used to us in time 😀

  8. Love this post and love the reference, I can basically quote all the dialog of that film…..
    For the last 24 years I have ended my job in June never knowing what the bidding process would be like in September and if I would have a job at start of term. This was an adjustment, but surrender has been a great gift. I admire you both and the level of surrender it takes to not know from day to day if you’re working, who you might be working with and where your work will take you, that is a BIG surrender, my friend, you amaze me for sure!

    • Hi Sherrie!
      Wasn’t that a great movie!?
      I almost always like Sandra Bullock movies. I loved this one and the more subtle lessons wrapped up in the laughter.
      I’d say after 24 years – you’re a KEEPER! 😀

      We’ve been blessed to have made some really good friends in the industry – not the company we work for who serves more like an employment agency – but with oil companies and drilling rigs and sales and service people that we have a lot of contact with.
      Everyone seems quite set on looking out for us. There was a time when we might have taken slight umbrage at that (well, Heidi at least 😉 ) but now it’s a gift!
      I woke up to an entirely different scenario again today.
      You’re so right – surrender is the key.
      I’m determined to enjoy each day and to make it pleasant for Heidi and the people around me.
      If I’m always kicking shins, that just doesn’t happen. 😉

  9. I understand what you are going through. We are at a gate now with very little traffic and are beginning to wonder how long they are going to keep us here. But I am not knocking it, it is an easy gig compared to our last two gates. Hang in there and keep looking up.


    • Hey there Nick!
      All is well.
      Every day we’re working is a good day (I keep reminding myself as I tromp out in the pouring rain and mud)! ;D
      We MAY be done here on Thursday. We MAY start on the new rig on Sunday or Monday but you know how that goes… It could be entirely different tomorrow! 😀
      Thanks for writing, Nick!
      Sorry to be slow responding – very little internet here.

  10. I relate in so many ways. I don’t know about you but I find it emotionally taxing at times. But, ever thankful for the provisions met in our life and yours.

    • Debby –
      Yes, my friend, God provides. It’s not always exactly what I think I want, but He’s God and I’m not so who am I to argue! 😉
      I haven’t had any internet since I wrote this post (a tiny bit on my Kindle- fleetingly) and things have changed at least 4 or 5 more times.
      It’s been interesting…

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