If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Texas

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium Texas. If you’re not old enough to remember the movie, never-mind. It was pretty forgettable. Just like the day of the week or the month of the year is forgettable when you’re a Top Secret Agent in Texas.

Life as a TSA is jam-packed with redundancy.

We work every day  – all day and all night. Heidi and I are year-rounders so we work every day and every holiday and every birthday, which makes every day pretty much the same.

That’s a fact, not a complaint. We’re extremely grateful that we’ve almost never been without a job since we started gate guarding. It’s just funny to hear someone say on the news: Have a great weekend! That’s something you never hear in the oil field because we just have days – not week days and weekend days and holiday – just days.

I’m writing this on Saturday but it might as well be a Tuesday in Texas. I may not know what day of the week it is or sometimes even the month or season but I always know I’m in Texas. It’s the unforgettable part of life as a TSA.

Texas won’t let you forget you’re in Texas.

The Texas flag flies high and proud everywhere. It’s often accompanied by the Confederate flag which seems like a little bit of a contradiction to the US flag to me, but there it is.

Michener sums it up for us Yankees.

What you northerners never appreciate…is that Texas is so big that you can live your life within its limits and never give a (darn) about what anyone in Boston or San Francisco thinks. ~ James Michener

I can’t count how many Texans I’ve met who’ve never been outside of Texas. Seriously. Not ever. Grown-up people who’ve never once been out of this state. We worked for a rancher (a retired postmaster) who had never been out of his county. Hmm…

We’re well into our 3rd year now as Top Secret Agents. People are always asking us how/why we’re here working as TSAs in TX.

It’s a great question. If I had a bucket list, which I don’t, Texas might not fit in it because I’m a:

  • Water lover
  • Forest lover
  • Bug hater (spider fear-er)
  • Cool temperature lover
  • Nature (involving things that don’t want to bite or sting me) lover
  • And an avid walking on the beach type of bum

You can find things like water in Texas but you’re not likely to find a TSA job nearby.

I lived most of my life in the Midwest of Grant Wood. It was lovely. I don’t miss the freezing winters but I do miss having 4 real seasons.

For the three years prior moving to Texas, we lived on the southern Oregon coast. Growing up in Indiana, my family spent almost every Spring Break in Florida, where I fell in love with the ocean.

But Oh! the ocean in Oregon with the mountains and forests falling off into the sea; the whales spouting; the fog horns; the crab boats; the lighthouses; the agate and jasper covered beaches. It seemed like a place people made up in books.

Walks in Oregon were in the beautiful old growth forests or, if Henry got to vote, on the beach.

Henry enjoying a romp and stomp with the seagulls
Henry’s favorite thing was a wild romp and stomp with the seagulls, no leash, ever. Those were his halcyon days – and ours!

Heidi and I both worked as managers at a beautiful ocean front resort. The location was idyllic but the chest pains that Heidi started having from the stress became alarming. At the end of a particularly hard week, I made a just catching up phone call to Joanie who used to work for me at the resort. She and her husband were full-time RVers, gate guarding in Texas.

To tell you the truth, the job didn’t really appeal to me but it was clear we needed to make a change. Heidi already owned a motorhome which was sitting empty in a lot since we had a 2 bedroom apartment at the resort.

Acting on impulse and with no idea what to expect, we talked it over, took the Level II Security tests and headed to Texas with the assurance from a gate guard company that they’d find us something eventually after we got in state.

We started working the day we called to say we’d crossed the border. And oh gosh, it hasn’t been anything like anything either of us have experienced before. Not Texas, and not gate guarding.

Continue reading

Joe Btfsplk and Other Wonders of Nature

For hours days I’ve been going to sleep to the sound of rain pattering and periodically pounding on the RV roof. I love the sound of rain –  when the slides don’t leak and the wind doesn’t tear off the non-retractable awnings over the four slides that magically transform this little trailer on wheels into a home.

I sleep and dream of the ocean. For three years, I often fell asleep to the sound of rain. I lived in the tiny town of Gold Beach tucked away in a little southern crook. With its temperate rain forest climate, there are more sunny days there than any other place on the Oregon coast. Although I often slept to the sounds of rain, most days offered a generous helping of sun.

For 14 months, I’ve lived in the drought stricken state of Texas. I’d all but forgotten the sound of rain on the roof. It hadn’t rained until I began my period of necessary unemployment. Since leaving the gate Thursday morning, the rain hasn’t stopped.

I’m beginning to feel like Joe Btfsplk! Do you remember Joe from Li’l Abner? Me either, but I’ve read about him. 😀

Joe Btfsplk was a character in the satirical comic strip Li’l Abner created by cartoonist Al Capp.  A small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovered over his head. Btfsplk and his ever-present cloud became one of the most iconic images in Li’l Abner. The rain cloud was supposed to represent Joe’s unfortunate tendency to bring bad luck.

This past week, our job came to an abrupt halt;  Heidi’s renters moved out 7 months before their lease was up; the house requires $5000 in repairs; the RV insurance rate doubled due to my palm tree tango; a random stone shattered the living room window; and the weather forecast is for another week of rain.

Just call me Joe. 😀

I may just be a rain carrier. We head east tomorrow to check out the Texas bayous where the rain is expected to continue.  I consider it my gift to a thirsty state. I’m hoping to leave the bit of bad luck behind. I think, just to be safe, Heidi better drive. 😉

For those of you who are interested in the oil business down here in south Texas land,  Andrew sent me this great link about the Eagle Ford Shale play.  The Houston Chronicle article lists everything from the average salaries to the local economic impact.

More from the bayou tomorrow or the following day. I still have some Louisianan bayou tales to tell. Until then to end with a couple of Capp-isms: good is better than evil because it’s nicer. 😀

To be corn-tinued