Oil Field Gate Guarding Pin

Oil Field Gate Guarding: The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly

Oil Field Gate Guarding: The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly 1

“We can do almost ANYTHING for two months, right?” 

This is what we said to each other and our friends before we left Utah after the Xscapers Moab Convergence and headed to Texas. It was our first oil field gate guarding job.

Previously, Erick and I read about gate guards who work in the Texas oil fields, looked up different companies who hired guards, and bookmarked “oil field gate guard wanted” ads. We were enamored with the thought of replenishing our savings account for winter fun within only a couple of months.

The company we contacted had quite a few openings so we knew we needed to act quickly. We were given directions about taking the test to become licensed security guards and where to get our fingerprints taken and background checks done. Drug screening was also required. All of this was set up by the company with which we were to be contractors.

Oil Field Gate Guarding – This is Going To Be SUCH a Cool Adventure!

Oil Field Gate Guarding: The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly 2

Our Full Hook Ups

By the time we arrived in Lubbock, we had finished the online test and were officially licensed security guards with the State of Texas. While in Lubbock we also had our background checks, fingerprinting and drug screenings completed within an afternoon. Easy-peasy! We were on our way! I called our human resources contact and asked for directions to the gate.

During this call, we were told the first gate we were scheduled for was no longer available. The landowner didn’t want an RV near the gate and preferred a gate shack instead. Some gates have guards working out of their RV and others have guards working from a shack. The guard working from a shack stays in an RV park and drives to the gate to work his or her shift. We learned that, what the landowner wants, the landowner gets — so we were asked to take another gate or wait for negotiations with this particular owner. Since were ready to work, we took the other job. In South Texas. What’s a little more driving after all we had driven already? 

Sheesh, Texas is HUGE! Despite the exhaustion from all the driving, we set up our 5th wheel at our new location. Our manager helped us get hooked up to the water tank and generator the guard company provided. The above-ground, gray/black water holding tank was to be delivered the following day but didn’t come for two days. Thankfully we had emptied our tanks before leaving the RV park that morning.

 After setting up, we had about a 20 minute orientation which included the rules for that specific gate, important phone numbers, and how to use the app on the iPad that we were to use for our job. We were also given our company “uniforms” – multiple t-shirts with the company logo on them plus an orange safety vest. My orange vest was a men’s size, 2XL. I wear a women’s medium. Laugh if you want, it really did look like an orange dress when it was zipped up!

Was This Gate Guard Job in Texas REALLY a Good Decision?

Oil Field Gate Guarding: The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly 3

Oil Rig Move

As with any new job, there was a little learning curve. Mostly it was learning all the quirks of the log-in and log-out app. Once we got the hang of those it was smooth sailing! Oh, wait. No, it wasn’t.

Actually the first two weeks were quite nice. I got to watch and identify birds during my shift, the weather wasn’t too hot and I was able to read my books. Erick and I were even able to watch and photograph the huge variety of insects we had never seen before, including the very nasty tarantula hawk wasp. This thing stung a tarantula, paralyzed it, dug a hole and pulled it right into that hole, all while I watched! I read afterward that once the tarantula was in the hole, the wasp would proceed to lay its eggs inside of the tarantula, while it was still alive! No wonder one of the welders I talked to called these wasps chupa huesos (English translation: bone suckers) and told me to stay far away from their painful sting.

But, I was still fascinated by our location despite the wasps and tarantulas.

Then we experienced our first oil rig move.

Traffic picks up quite a bit and doesn’t slow down until a rig is completely set up. This takes about two to three days. I couldn’t believe the size of the payloads these trucks were hauling, and they were only about ten to twelve feet from my RV! Any surface that could hold dust, did. But at that point, dust and crazy insects were the least of our concerns.

About the second week into May, the weather started heating up. The humidity was high and the heat index was even higher. We often looked like we had been in a rain shower, but it was all just sweat. No, we couldn’t just go into our RV to sit in the air conditioning. Want to know why? Let me enlighten you about specific gate rules imposed by the landowner and the Company Man. Every gate has them and every gate can be different. Our gate’s landowner required that the gate be closed whenever we were inside. Just imagine trying to open and close a gate with constant traffic in and out of the gate with no particular pattern to it. That was how ours was once that first oil rig moved in, and it just got worse when the two, yes two, other rigs moved in. There was no way I could go inside long enough for the cool air to make a difference. It would have been very inefficient and I wouldn’t have been able to do my job in a timely manner. So, the gate stayed open and I sweated my tushie off every day.

I don’t want to give the wrong impression here, though. There were times when we were able to go into our RV during our shifts. It was just hard to decide when to go in since there was no definite pattern to the traffic. I do know that when nature called, I HAD to go in and the traffic had to wait. Sometimes the motion sensor’s monitor would beep, I’d panic, and try to finish as quickly as possible. I learned though, that putting out a sign that said I’d be out shortly helped keep the drivers from honking their horns as much.

What Did We Learn as Oil Field Gate Guards?

Oil Field Gate Guarding: The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly 4

Cattle who set off motion sensor

Here are some other things we learned while on this job.

  • Texas weather is unpredictable in the spring. We had a microburst nearly rip off our awning. Always put in your awning at night or you might find your partner hanging from it during howling wind and sideways rain.
  • Texas is HOT and HUMID. Drink lots of water and replenish those electrolytes!
  • Mice will get into your RV and have no qualms about crawling on you while you’re in bed. This happened to me three separate times. But if you’re like me, there will come a time when you are too tired to care. Setting traps before you go to bed may or may not help.
  • Ants love to get into your RV, too. Texas has LOTS of ants.
  • Having both ants and mice in your RV at the same time, can just about drive you insane!
  • Roadrunners and Crested CaraCaras love the free mice fresh from the traps!
  • Cattle will set off your gate motion sensors. Obviously the best grass is near those sensors!
  • Wild hogs make super scary sounds at night.
  • Tarantulas really do make nice neighbors. Rattlesnakes, blister beetles, scorpions, and constantly mating walking stick bugs, not so much. Stick bugs have no shame!
  • The drivers and employees at our oil rigs were really nice. They are known to take pretty good care of their gate guards. We were given snacks, drinks, and meals on occasion.
  • Keep eye contact with those drivers. Stories have been told of gate guards who have been drug by 18 wheelers and lost limbs because of it. Safety is priority number one!
  • Water truck drivers are your best friends when those roads get dusty.
  • You must maintain professionalism at all times, even when a bug flies down your shirt and into your bra. Only after traffic leaves can you break into an interpretive dance to remove said bug.
  • Although our manager knew about our dog, many landowners don’t want dogs on their property. My dog didn’t like being contraband. She would have preferred greeting anyone who gave her eye contact.
  • Gate guards can earn on average from $150 to $175 daily. It depends on the company you work for and the gate you’ll be working at. There are too many variables to list.
  • Oil field gate guarding on a 24/7 schedule is not for the faint-hearted. Couples who like to spend time together, forget about it on a 24/7 gate. Chores and errands – grocery shopping, laundry, etcetera – are done by one person while the other watches the gate. In case you were wondering, we won’t work a 24/7 gate again.
  • We’re tougher than we thought. Our replacements lasted 10 days. The job itself is not difficult. It’s the conditions of where you work that you need to be ready for. We were always tired. We have great respect for those who gate guard year ‘round!

I hope that you have found our experience to be enlightening. Sometimes the compounding challenges bordered on comical. If you think oil field gate guarding is something you might be interested in doing, do your research.

Can you make a decent amount of money in a short time? Yes, you can. Do you think you could handle adverse conditions while making that money? That’s for you to decide, but don’t underestimate that mental challenge. Talk to people who have had different experiences from ours and really make sure you know how much you can handle from your environment before jumping into oil field gate guarding.

Oil Field Gate Guarding: The Good, The Bad and The Really Ugly 5

Author

Jeannie Dees

Jeannie Dees has been a full-time RVer since 2015. Jeannie retired early from teaching to pursue the nomadic life with her husband. Work camping was a new experience for them both, but living an adventurous life is not. They love to explore new places and meet new people here at home and abroad and are always excited for what’s around the next bend. These days you will find Jeannie working for the Escapees RV Club as their Digital Content Manager.

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Oil Field Gate Guarding Pin

4 Responses

  1. I’m interested in oil field gate guard, l have my own RV generator and lights I’m 77yrs old need something to occupied my time getting restless, have done this job before so I know how to do it, also have a friend that will work with me so we split the income; one last information is that I’m an ex felon so I can’t get liceance by the state since they imposed an extra ten yrs, I’ve worked with companies that hire directly and don’t require the state liceance.

    Thanks in advance
    Armando Contreras

    1. Hello Armando, we don’t have specific recommendations for gate guard jobs. You would need to contact oil field gate guard companies directly to find out how your circumstance can be worked with. We wish you the best of luck!

    1. Hi! We don’t have specific location recommendations. You would have to contact gate guarding companies directly. Good luck!

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