Now that things have slowed down around here and the caliche dust has settled a bit (a good portion of it in our coach), I’ve had time to reflect on the last nine weeks here at the ranch.
We learned a valuable lesson on this, our first gate guarding job. If you are going to work two fracing wells, get paid extra or turn the job down. You know, our gate guarding company pays people extra when they have two drilling wells, but not for the fracing… at least not here in south Texas it seems. I’ve heard, from a reliable source, that on the Barnett Shale they did pay more for multiple fracing wells. Don’t know why it’s different down here? No reason in my opinion. Just sayin…
With two fracing wells we were logging in over 125 trucks in & out every day (up until last week). Going to the bathroom was a risky proposition… and yes, sometimes we did get caught. The couple next door to us (on a twin gate) had a new drilling rig… a single one. They had 1/5th the traffic we had and they worked for a company that pays more to begin with. That was a bummer for us!
Okay, my rant is over. Now that I have that off my chest (so to speak), I’d like to share that we have met some truly great people. I have several “gate guarding” friends whom I’ve never met but we have a good cyber/phone/blog relationship.
People around these parts are very friendly and helpful. Since we cook and eat natural and healthy foods, no processed food in my kitchen, I do a lot of mail-order for my ingredients. It’s hard to find the items I want in regular stores in larger cities. In Cotulla or Carrizo Springs, Texas, just as well forget about it 😀
The problem I encountered at first was where to have my mail order items sent to. Most businesses use UPS or FedEx. They won’t ship to a P.O. Box or General Delivery. At first I had everything come to my daughter and she would repack it and ship it on to me via USPS Priority Mail. That got to be expensive because I was paying shipping costs two times.
Then I received a great tip from one of our gate guarding colleagues. The Ace Hardware store in Cotulla will receive UPS & FedEx deliveries as long as your telephone number is listed somewhere on the package. This is great customer service. It uses the Hare Krishna principle—if I give you something, you will feel compelled to return the kindness and do something for me.
Every time we go to pick up packages at Ace, we always manage to need something and it does not matter what it is, they seem to have it. Now to look at the store on the inside, you would never guess they have such a variety or are so well stocked. For example, Bob lost a screw out of his glasses. He used dental floss (he’s such an inventor) to hold it all together, but it wasn’t a long-term solution.
So last week as I went to town, he asked me to see if they had an eye-glass repair kit at Ace. I truly doubted they would have such a thing… I was wrong… they did. I was shocked! And they are always extremely friendly there. They certainly know how to keep you coming back.
When I went to the post office to pick up our mail, I needed to open the hood of the car so I could shut it better. It seems that somehow, probably the rough caliche roads, the latch shifted and all the way to Cotulla, on I-35, my hood was vibrating up and down. I kept the speed down… it made me nervous (actually it freaked me out).
I was struggling to find the little lever to push on so I could get the hood unlatched. Suddenly, this little old man came up to me and asked if I needed some help? (Wasn’t at all obvious—right!) To which I replied, “I sure could use some help.” He found the lever in two seconds and had the hood all squared away in short order.
Next stop, Super S for a few supplies. While there I met another gate guard. We talked for a while before we checked out and headed back to our respective posts.
I find it interesting to talk to the other people who are out here doing what we do. I know for us, economy is a big reason why we are here. From what I hear from others, that’s the biggest reason most of us are out here. Duh! Not exactly a resort atmosphere in the south Texas outback! With that said, this job does grow on you.
After almost nine weeks on this 3-day job (don’t know where that came from… the day we were asked by our FS if we’d take this position, he said we would only be there for three days) we have gotten to know several company men, truckers, signal guys, roustabouts, and most of them are just hard-working, salt of the earth people. They have families and they work very long hours. Just like we do. Also, our GGS guy, David, takes wonderful care of us. He cares a lot about his people and it shows!
There is one interesting observation I’d like to share with you. Being between Cotulla and Encinal has an advantage. It hardly ever rains here. For nine weeks we’ve watched the radar and all the rain seems to either form over us and drop all of the rain in San Antonio and points east, or rain comes up from Mexico (thank goodness I have not seen anything else come up from Mexico), splits when it gets here, then comes back together after it gets past us.
For the weather and the people, I’m thankful. It’s a lot easier to get around in the caliche when it is dry instead of sloshing in the goo when it is wet!
Till next time,