Do What You Like – Like What You Do

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The pictures on the front of the Life is Good t-shirts vary but their trademark philosophy is always same: Do what you like. Like what you do. Optimism can take you anywhere.

As I mentioned in my last post, there are actually quite a variety of jobs you could be assigned as gate guards. Some you might like better than others. These are the most common ones:

  • Jobs where you live right on the site and work safety, wear flame retardant clothing. and keep track of where everyone is at all times. I don’t see myself ever doing that but I’m guessing some folks like it.

OK, this is one of our guys, but can you imagine an already hot-flashing 55-year-old woman suiting up in 100+ degree temps? Me, either! I’m pretty sure I’d become the safety issue on the rig! πŸ˜‰

  • Jobs where you work just FRAC (tons of traffic) and follow a FRAC crew. This involves moving every 6-10 days. The gate guards I’ve talked to that do this, love it. I have no idea why? We have way too much HUAD for that one!

  • Jobs where you start with the drilling rig and stay on site through FRAC and completion.

  • Jobs where you stay at a production site (we have friends who did this for over a year). They had all their meals catered and locked the gate at 10 each night and opened at 6 every morning while making the same pay we all make on a 24 hour gate. I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping to get one of these.

  • Jobs with multiple active holes where you make a little extra for each drilling hole if someone is living at each site.

  • Jobs with unfortunate placement. We worked a gate by the highway where the traffic for 6 sites stopped by us on their way to: our rig, or the FRAC (which had their own gg), or the construction of our second pad, or the production plant, or the pipe line, or the 2nd well (which also had their own gg )… It wasn’t a big deal, but it was really busy. We were sort of like the traffic cops in the middle of the street and blow whistles and point a lot. πŸ˜€

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I’m sure there are other industry related gate guard jobs, but the majority work in one of these areas, or like Heidi and I, follow a drilling rig. With the 2 brief exceptions noted in my last post, following a rig is all that we’ve done and we like it quite a lot. The kind of experience you have following a rig depends on a lot of things – chemistry mostly. Sometimes you click and sometimes you clash. We’ve been very fortunate to always click.
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We loved our year with our previous gig, and we’ll never forget those guys! It was quite an introduction to gate guarding! It’s hard to forget people who bring you tarantulas in a crock pot or rattlesnakes slithering around in their truck bed or the snare wild hogs right outside your window at night! We were so sad for us and happy for them when the rig got called back to their home state of Louisiana.
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There are many, many nice people to work for and with in this business and, I’m told, some that aren’t as nice. This isn’t a glamor job (clearly) πŸ˜‰ and attitudes toward gate guards vary. The Texas Railroad Commission requires gate guards, so to some companies the position is just a necessary evil and to others, it’s a part of their team that they value.
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We’ve been fortunate to make the team for the second time. We’ve struck gold with this company and drilling rig. We’ve enjoyed every day (well almost every day ;)) of the 5 months we’ve been with them. We’ll be taking a few weeks off in a few weeks with the repeated assurance that when we return, they expect us back because we’re “family” now.
That’s really nice. You can see from the photo below, we practically live on the pad.
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You certainly can find something wrong with any job. This one is hot and dusty. It’s a long way from home no matter where you live, even if you live in Texas!
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The pay, before taxes, comes to $5.21 an hour. The only thing that makes this job financially viable is that we work 24 hrs a day(no napping on the job since we always try to be out the door in under 10 seconds). That, of course, means we work every weekend and every holiday. As year-rounders following a rig, we work 100 or 200 or 300 days straight. It helps to take a couple of weeks off about every 6-8 months.
What it comes down to mostly is your outlook. It’s like the Life is Good shirts. Do what you like. Like what you do. We focus on what we like about what we do. Like right now, it’s 2 in the morning and I can do my job well and still blog (when the internet is favorable) and watch the pre-recorded Olympics in between trucks. There’s virtually no stress or conflicts to resolve since no one cares what we think because we don’t know anything about whatever the problem is!
As for the last part of the Life is Good philosophy:Β Optimism can take you anywhere, be careful with that one. I’ve always been pretty optimistic and look where that took me! πŸ˜‰
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Riggin’ Up – Day 1

I’m having some computer (probably user) difficulties so I’ll have to post this in sections.

The slide show starts automatically. You may want to scroll down and hit the stop button in the middle – not that it matters much. The firstΒ  picture is the last day of the last hole – capped off and ready to go.

The next few shots are of the pad they made for us. In a year and a half of gate guarding, we’ve only had a couple of pads. They usually just toss us in a field! πŸ˜€

Not only did they fill the swamp to build a pad, they had Heidi check it. It was great for us but too small to accommodate the two service trailers so they made it bigger. If you’re a gate guard, can you believe it? Wow! I think we’re going to like working for these guys!

We moved on Wednesday, one day ahead of the rig.

The pictures, beginning with the buzzards, all took place on Thursday, Day 1 of the rig move.

The derrick came in on Friday and by Saturday it was business as usual. It may take a village to raise a child but it only takes 2 days to raise a rig.

It’s disappointing to realize, looking at the photos, that I can’t give you any true perspective of the enormous size and weight of everything. We have a 40 foot RV and it looks like a toy next to much what comes onto the site.

I’ll post a second page of a few photos alone since they look kind of diminutive in the slide show.

That’s about all my weak internet will allow at one time. I post Day 2 of the move in a separate post.

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One of our young guys just ripped out of here on his way to McMillan (about 4 hours north) where his wife is in labor. This crew’s two-week tour is up on Tuesday/Wednesday. I guess the baby couldn’t wait for 3 more days!

I feel like I’m working on an oil rig right now. I’m away from home a lot.Β  ~ Hugh Laurie

That was then…

The move, which was scheduled for Tuesday and changed to Thursday, took place on Wednesday. We’re still on the same ranch, between Yoakum (population 5400) and Cuero (population 6500).

We were at a gate right by a major highway. The definition of a major highway in southeastern Texas is a road that has two lanes instead of one and has asphalt instead of caliche or hard pack.

In our auspicious career as gate guards, we’d only worked with two companies. We spent almost a year following a rig with an oil company until they stacked last November. We subbed for a vacationing couple for two months.

Now, we’re once again following a rig and so is the caliche with another company.

For those of you who aren’t a part of the gate guarding community (which isn’t remotely like a gated community) there are a variety of jobs. Working with a drilling rig is all that we’ve done, with the exception of our first 3 1/2 weeks, guarding a water tank in Tilden.

If you’re assigned to a drilling rig, you stay with them through one hole. Some folks stay on location from drilling through fracing. Some follow the rig. Following the rig isn’t a given. If the Company Man (Men) like you, they may ask you to stay with them when they finish drilling and move to the next site. If you like them, you may want to go. If it isn’t a good match, the rig moves on and the gate guards go back to the yard to wait for another assignment.

This is our second hole with 441. It seems like it’s going to be a good match. At the first gate, we were about a mile from the site.

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We couldn’t see the rig, even at night, through the tangle of mesquite. I drove back once to pick up dinner. I went into the Safety Trailer by mistake, but I guess if you’re going to go in the wrong trailer on an oil rig, the Safety Trailer is probably the best one to stumble into. πŸ˜€

We’re on a 200 acre ranch that has multiple activities going on. Being on the gate, on the highway, meant we handled the traffic for all 6 sites. It was crazy busy. I was really happy it was March instead of July!

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For 5 weeks it was kind of like those videos you see of traffic cops standing in the middle of the street, blowing their whistles and wildly waving their arms. That was then…

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We moved about a quarter of a mile on Wednesday, and into an entirely different world.

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This is now…

I think you’ll have to double click on this photo to get a perspective.

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The white trailer in the right hand corner is where the drilling crew stays (12 guys, two weeks on, two weeks off). You can sort of see the our big green septic tank just in front of the tree on the right. We’re maybe 8 yards from the actual pad. It’s an unusual location. We’re sandwiched in between the guys and the rig. They walk on and wave.

It’s certainly quite a view! We’ve been close before, but never this close. If we were any closer, they’d have to issue us hard hats and protective clothing!

For those of you who read Fork for stories of pigs on pokes and cows on the carpet, there will be more of those to come. In this business, it’s pretty unusual to be quite this close to the action, so I’ll likely do another post with just photos, then it’s on to the tale of the three tails.