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Old 01-31-2019, 08:24 PM   #1
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Guarding a Pipeline Gate-The Lowdown

While I am new to this forum I am not new to RV’ing or Full Timing. I have been Full Timing in my 34 foot TT for Four years now since returning from living overseas. I am also no stranger to Working while on the road. Work Camping seems a limited term to me best used to describe those who are working at a camp ground or RV Park. But it works so I will use it here.

I am now working as a Gate Guard on a Pipeline Project in Southwest Texas near the small and depressing burg of Freer. It is my intention to post regularly in more or less real time about this experience with the aim of informing and helping those who may want to try this out.

I was in Tucson when I started calling on these gate guard jobs and most employers or more properly recruiters tell you you need to come to Texas before they will deal with you seriously.
I was able to get a lot of information while talking to about 5 different companies over a period of a couple of months.

I am now working for a company called Timekeepers and what they lack in organization and accuracy of information they make up for with friendliness. I contacted them about the pipeline contract I was told about by a different source.They first told me that I had to go to a Texas Govt. website called TOPS and “take a test” to get a Texas unarmed security guard license. Well there is no test to be taken there (there is later though). First you need to register with TOPS and fill in all the personal information. This is basically the background check site. The site will give you a number that you need to use down the line so write them down. You also have to have fingerprints taken and all the companies say this MUST be done in Texas at a company called “Identogo”. You will only be able to make a reservation for the fingerprints AFTER you have done the TOPS application. The test for the security guard license is open book and was given at the Timekeepers office in Cotulla, TX. It took all of ten minutes.

None of this was made clear to me by Timekeepers. I more or less had to make my own way through the maze. None of it is particularly difficult but all the T’s must be crossed and the I’s dotted in the right order.

My friend and I chose this pipeline job as opposed to the more common type of gate guarding where you park your RV at a gate and the two of you are splitting a 24 Hr shift and the pay of about $175/day. These pipeline jobs are daylight hours even if you are at a 24/7 gate with your RV, which I hope to be on soon.

In my case I am guarding a gate at a Pipeline construction project. This position pays $150/day or $900.00/week. You work 6 days a week during daylight hours at gates that are installed on ranchers land along the pipeline route. Every other week we are working 7 days upping the weekly pay to $1050. This is a contractor position so you are working on a 1099 with no taxes withheld. Because of that you must buy your own safety equipment like hard hat, gloves, etc.

Now the pipeline projects have two types of gates. Most are just daylight gates you sit on like a hen trying to hatch a chick. There are a few 24/7 gates where you can park your RV and one person guarding that gate while your partner guards a different gate. We are waiting for a gate where we can park our RV so both of us will be guarding different gates and making $1800-$2100/week between the two of us. This is considerably more than you make at the more common type of “well” gate. There are few of these on a project and hard to get but worth it.
In fact if we dont get the RV gate it may be worth it to buy an old used car and resell it afterwards just to get two gates.

Generally speaking your only duty is to stop vehicles coming thru your gate and log their names and vehicle information, open the gate and close it...it’s not rocket science for sure. Now at my gate I have had not a single vehicle come through in the 6 days that I have been here.

My gate is located about 16 miles from the town of Freer and about 1 1/2 miles along the pipeline right of way. This is a mind numbingly boring way to make money and in that vein fits right in with what passes for scenery in this part of Texas. My only company are the cows that come to stare at me from the other side of the fence, curious and interested about why I would just be sitting here like this. My guess is they associate a pickup truck with food.

I usually get to the outer gate at the road about 6:40 AM and leave at 5:00 PM. Keeping busy is the hard part. I bring two different books to read and a puzzle book. I am at the gate as I write this on my IPad. I work mostly to keep busy and engaged as sitting around is very hard for me to do. I thought this would be much busier with lots of traffic. So it is a little ironic that I am more sedentary here than I was in Tucson just hanging out. At least there I could work on my trailer, go to the library or bookstore and the weekly farmers market.

Usually in these oil areas costs rise to freakish levels. I have experience of this in the North Dakota fields where I had a job driving Rail Road crews. But here it seems the prices are not so bad. Our RV space is only $400/month. Groceries are reasonable and Diesel is cheaper than in Tucson. So you aren’t eating up all you earn just living.

Where my RV is parked is not what you would normally call an RV park but it has full hookups and pretty good WiFi. In reality it is just a vacant lot in town turned into a place to park RV’s. It does have a laundry and a shower, and three little Tiny Houses as well as about 6 RV spaces. For us the nearest real town with everything you need is 35 miles east toward Corpus Christi called Alice.

If you have Verizon this area is a dead zone. At the gate I have NO signal for at least 5 miles in any direction. AT&T is the only provider in this particular rural area. I do have service in town though. Check your phone companies DETAILED coverage map to see what your coverage will be.

So in light of everything this job can be interesting as a general experience but be prepared to be thoroughly bored most of the time. Bring lots of reading material if you are a reader. And in this small town so far from any metropolitan area neither of my TV antennas can pull anything in. So if you are a TV fan this might be hard on you.

I will be leaving this job in very early April to head to Alaska to work again for Holland America/Princess as a driver/guide out of Fairbanks which is a much more satisfying way to spend time. To say nothing of being much much more scenic. And much more demanding and busier. Last year I hardly worked at all so I have a lot of pent up ambition.

So for now, from the oil fields of south west Texas at a lonely gate in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by 40 curious cows I will now read the next 10 chapters of my book....


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Old 01-31-2019, 08:32 PM   #2
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Nice story....
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:35 PM   #3
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well tell all the cows hello at least the pay isn't too bad
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Old 01-31-2019, 10:53 PM   #4
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MOOOO!
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:38 AM   #5
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Hey...somebody has to do it.

You mentioned driving railroad crews...was that in situations where the train was stopped for some strange reason and the crew ran out of hours?
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:13 AM   #6
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Hey...somebody has to do it.

You mentioned driving railroad crews...was that in situations where the train was stopped for some strange reason and the crew ran out of hours?

Yes, actually the crews can only be on duty 12 hours and they must stop the train at a siding before their time runs out. So i worked for a company that hauled new crews out to the trains and picked them up.


The company in this case was horrible however but the job paid $18/hour. And you have to drive in North Dakota during the winter all over the state and half of Montana.


now back to the oil fields of west Texas....
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:44 AM   #7
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I enjoyed reading your story.......felt like I was there.

So you have a lot of time on your hands......have you ever considered writing a book?

You have the time, the knack for writing, why not?

Good luck......

g
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:14 AM   #8
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Fellow Gate Guards

Hey, welcome to our world. We have been Gate Guards for last 7 winters. Enjoyed your story a lot. You are funny. Know exactly what you are saying except we never did the pipeline gates. We enjoy the Roadrunners a lot. They are entertaining. You might try someone other than Timekeepers next time. We are sorta prejudiced since we only worked for one company the whole time. You should find them way more organized and reliable and better to work for. Try Sitewatch. They take care of you. swgateguards.com. Call the supervisor, Todd 903-520-0510 cell, or call the office in Tyler, TX 903-561-7202.
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Old 02-04-2019, 12:37 PM   #9
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I will be following this thread, this is what I'am looking for after I retire from my current workcamping job in a couple of years. After driving shuttle buses at the Grand Canyon for 9 years year round I will be ready for a little boring work
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Old 02-05-2019, 06:29 AM   #10
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UPDATE

Well life is picking up! There is hope on the horizon that someone may actually need to get thru my gate in the near future.


I had a couple of crews come through this Sunday. A Utility locator and a surveyor...they were marking for the Trench for the pipe to lay in. When I left in the afternoon there was what I believe was a crew working it's way along the pipe to x-ray the welds and seal the weld seam.


This will all pass by me soon. Then I suppose will come the trencher which I saw being unloaded the other day.


To make sure there was no hassle with my first paycheck I gave the payroll person a call yesterday to verufy she had my time sheets and that my bank information was all correct...now we will wait for the real test. They actually pay pretty quickly. The pay period ends on the 3 and they pay on the 8th. You get paid every two weeks.


Because I have NO phone reception on Verizon and the phone I bought in Paris last year isnt working I had to buy a new phone to put an ATT sim in so I could be in touch. I wasnt comfortable being so far from everything with no one coming through the gate and no being able to call and get help if I needed it.


NO I am not the least bit afraid of poor people crossing the border...but if I did get sick or have a heart attack then I want someine to know. But more likely if I got stuck trying to get out of there. Now I have a Dodge Ram 2500 TDSL 4WD so I shouldnt be worried Right?



Well that's what I thought till the other day. Now I started my off -roading career at 16 in Southern California with my 49 Plymouth which I used more as a Jeep on the mountain tracks and desert trails then as a car to get to school in.


The other day it rained and drizzeled most of the day and when I tried to leave it got a bit dicey...my Michelin mud and snow tires were coated with three inches of sticky mud and steering became nearly impossible...While this is all flat land I still had to engage my 4WD to maintain any forward motion and steering...I barely got out of there.


But I am almost 2 miles down the pipeline right of way on a road that is as much cow poo as dirt...
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:00 AM   #11
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Carry on, we'll be your outlet. Let us know when you get to analyzing the qc of the fence staples.
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:19 AM   #12
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Have to ask, what do you do for a restroom?
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Old 02-05-2019, 09:35 AM   #13
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Have to ask, what do you do for a restroom?

It's a Zen thing - you "become one with the cows".



Because of the 1099-worker-supplies-everything nature of this, it's possible that the worker has to provide his/her own waste disposal.
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Old 02-05-2019, 11:07 AM   #14
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Have to ask, what do you do for a restroom?
Quote:
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It's a Zen thing - you "become one with the cows".

Because of the 1099-worker-supplies-everything nature of this, it's possible that the worker has to provide his/her own waste disposal.
No problem. The 1099 way to do this miles from anywhere: https://lnt.org/learn/principle-3
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