First Time Gate Guarding – Day 4

Once again we had no trucks after 7:00pm, but at 1:30am I did get a visitor.  The motion sensor chime went off and I looked outside and saw a man standing in the lit area near the gate.  I stuck my head out and asked if I could help him, and it turned out he was looking for the ranch down the road, so I sent him farther down.  As soon as I came back inside and closed the door I realized how very stupid that was. I didn’t even look and see if there was a vehicle (there was, he had parked his semi on the road before the  RV) and I had absolutely no idea who he was. It was just dumb, and I knew it the minute I finished the interaction, but it was late, I was distracted, and it’s taken years for Lee to make me more safety conscious.  I grew up in a small town where we didn’t lock our doors at night, so it’s been a long haul for me to be more focused on my personal safety.

When it became clear that no one else was coming I tried to lay down around 2:15am in the hopes I could get up earlier and help Lee more during the day, but it didn’t go very well.  Our couch is comfortable, but too short to sleep on, and the material doesn’t breathe very well.  Not surprisingly I woke up at 5am with a nasty headache and a crick in my neck.  I was also sad and pretty angry.  I wanted to be with my mother and I was so angry that I couldn’t be that I started to cry.  My reaction was pretty normal, considering I was grieving, and after crying a little and talking to Lee I went back to sleep.  I woke up at 10am feeling much more rested and quite a bit calmer.  I was still sad I wasn’t with mom, but the anger had passed.  I believe that God/the universe has a plan, and as much as possible you have to accept it, even when you don’t get what you want.  It’s also not all about me, and that became much clearer to me as the day unfolded.

We were pretty busy with gravel trucks today, seeing 384 entrances/exits.  It was a much easier day though, because almost all the trucks were gravel trucks, and we only needed to keep a tally sheet on those.  It may also have been easier since we are both getting more comfortable.  As our database is built it is much easier to check trucks in and out because you simply search on the license plate and all the information is there.  Lee and I were both able to enter the data directly into the tablet and keep up with the pace, which helped eliminate the extra step of writing it on paper.  I also covered more of the day shift which made things much easier on Lee.  We took turns being outside and that certainly made the job much easier. A few big items came in the last couple of days but mostly it has been gravel trucks or pickup trucks.  Here’s a couple of exceptions.  Don’t know what these are but they both went to the water well area.

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While I was working I texted my mom, brother, and sister to see how things were going.  I needed to actually talk to my sister and at that point Lee took over and I went inside.  I tried once or twice to have a phone conversation while the trucks were coming in, but it’s really not possible for us at this point.  It takes all of our focus to log trucks in and out and the noise from the trucks themselves doesn’t make it much easier.  Texting though works just fine, because this can be done between trucks.  The conversation with my sister went very well, and I wanted to say here that I am incredibly blessed to be doing this with them.  My brother has been amazing, keeping an eye on mom, and my sister has taken a week off work and is driving up to spend a couple of days with her and then bringing her back to her house for a few days as well.  As you can imagine, knowing they would be with her was a huge comfort to me and allowed me to have more peace with my decision to stay.

Wendy is able to take the time off from work and the kids because her husband is recovering from back surgery.  Under normal circumstances this would be very difficult because she has 4 children ranging from 2 – 17, but since Josh is home and recovering well he can take care of the kids.  And that’s what I meant earlier about there being a plan. Wendy wants to do this, and leaving for a little while might be exactly what Mom needs right now.  I still wish I was with them, but like I said, it’s not all about me.  And it’s hard to remember that in moments of stress, especially when nothing is making sense, but what I’ve found is if I am patient and wait a bit, things become clearer.  Like I have said before, I really don’t believe much in coincidence, and this many stacked up together I really don’t believe in the random.  That’s just me though, and as Lee says it doesn’t really matter as long as it all turns out OK.

I felt much better after talking to Wendy, and remembered that it was playoff football weekend.  Lee doesn’t watch any sports except women’s beach volleyball and no, I am not kidding about that, so every year we talk about playoff weekend. I don’t feel right just ignoring him for two solid days, and depending on what else is going on I’ll only watch my favorite games.  This year of course we are working, and since we don’t have an outside TV that means he would have to work when the games were on.  Talking it through though he mentioned he could easily bring the bedroom TV outside, and before you knew it he had done just that.  It worked really great, because I could sit outside and check trucks in and out and still keep an eye on the game.  I didn’t think anyone would care because a) I was getting my job done and b) it’s Texas, and football is practically a religion down here.  It worked great and I watched the Atlanta/Seahawks game that way and Lee got some stuff done inside.

Our rig

Our rig.  Most days we can’t have the awning out because it’s too windy but it’s great when we can

Gate guarding with my media center

Gate guarding with my media center.  I am supposed to wear the yellow vest but it was seriously attracting bees so I kept taking it on and off

Lee came out around 5:30pm and I went inside and decided to make him an apple pie.  I had bought the ingredients to make my first ever apple pie, and I was so grateful for the TV setup that I decided to surprise him.  I used Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust for the first time and it worked very well.  The topping was sugar, cinnamon, and graham crackers, and Lee declared it a success.  I was pretty excited he liked it because it’s not only cheaper than buying a pie at the grocery store, but also we can guarantee a good pie.  Being able to make pie is an important part of our 2017 budget plan.  If you have been reading along, you understand why.

My first ever apple pie. Not pretty but tasted good

My first ever apple pie. Not pretty but tasted good

Score!

Score!

It was a pretty good day all in all, but then Lee told me I had received an email from a reader.  He gave me a heads up on the contents, so I decided to wait until after dinner to read it.  Keep in mind that this person had no idea my step father had passed away when they sent this email, and they obviously felt passionate about my last couple of posts or they wouldn’t have sent it at all.  After reading it I have decided to post it here in it’s entirety with my responses.  We have opened this blog up to readers questions and I believe we should also (when possible) talk about differing opinions.  Especially when it comes to work positions.  Some folks are researching revenue sources by reading our accounts and I certainly want to provide as much information as possible.  As we always say there is no one way to full time, so I would be surprised if some folks didn’t disagree with me on a regular basis.  So for those of your doing research, please keep that in mind that no one source ever tells the whole story.

Anyway, here’s the email.   I thought about editing it down, but frankly that’s a slippery slope.   My responses are in blue italics

 

Hello Tracy and Lee,

I just want to write to you and say…….you are Very NEGATIVE….!!!  You have said in your blogs, you really don’t want to hear about jobs from others because they might cause you to form an opinion about a job!!! But isn’t that what you two are doing with your blog?  I did say that recently, and I knew at the time that I didn’t express that thought very well.  I like to hear first-hand accounts from people in person when I can.  When I am reading a blog post from a person I don’t regularly follow I am a little more cautious because opinions are so subjective and I don’t know them.  I would hope people who read this blog felt like they knew me enough to take what I write into account, but as I say, often everyone is very different and your mileage will probably vary. 

Last year while you were in Quartzsite, YOU wanted to meet up with us so WE could tell you about our GATE GUARDING experience (20 months of it)…..but YOU put us off…..I really don’t think you were interested!!!!  I do remember that, and I apologize for it.  Quartzsite had a steep learning curve for us and we were a bit overwhelmed by everything going on at the time.  You were very generous in your offer to get together and discuss it, but the scheduling just didn’t work out.  It certainly wasn’t personal.  

But now you sit and listen to ONE gate guard and started forming opinions!!!!  Yes you had a water problem!!!! MY 1st question is WHY didn’t you fill your fresh water tank BEFORE heading to the site?  You had to have known you would be hooked-up to a water tank with unpotable water!!!!  Also make sure you have bottled drinking water…..do not drink what is in the tanks!!!  We received the call to come to the job on our way to Padre Island and since we were planning to fill up there we only had a partial tank.  We were told it wasn’t potable but that it could be filtered, but yes, you are right, we would always in future arrive on a job with full tanks.  It’s also a fair point that I only have one person’s experience to go by so far.  She was nice and seemed credible, but certainly we are trying to get more information.  We have asked to join a Facebook group for gate guards and are waiting to be accepted.  I am sure we will learn more as we go, and from what we hear from that group.  In the meantime, I am reporting what I have experienced firsthand, or heard.  It should be viewed in that context. 

A hoe for snakes?  Really? What brainyac told you that?  Depending on size….they could jump the length of the hoe!!!!  Unless they are right next to you, leave them alone!!!  And if they are next to you, like a 12 inch rattler was one night for me….(I too did the night shift because my husband is on insulin), “I” CALMLY stepped away from it!!!!!  Hopefully you look under the steps when you go out at night!!!!! Especially since you are right up against a fence with high grass behind your rig!!!!! I also hope you have Decon and use mothballs. Two employees with the gate guard company told me to use the hoe.  When we discussed it it was only in a situation where the snake was in our main walking path and would not move.  I totally agree to leave them alone otherwise.  I do look under the steps, and thankfully they are well lit and the grass is somewhat far away.  It is a concern though, because we walk outside frequently.  The hoe is right next to the steps for that reason. I do not have Decon or use mothballs, but I appreciate the advice on those as well.

My husband use a week whacker to keep the grass down around our rig.  And a TV security monitor for $300.00!!!!?????  If you aren’t looking at the monitor someone could still come to your front door!!!! WOW!  We too had illegals……if you are on nights with your door open…..you constantly need to be ON GUARD!!!  I thought the security cameras were a cool idea.  I didn’t mean to imply they were mandatory.  Since my husband is a videographer he was particularly intrigued by cameras.  I, by the way,  worked in assets protection for a company for seven years in my 20’s. We used cameras and they worked great. 

My husband put rope lighting all around our rig and trk so I had extra light at night!!!!!  Also helps keep animals and snakes away.  I have heard that works, or a black hose.  So far we haven’t seen anything but may go that route as well. 

Also I HOPE you have a generator because those darn things seem to go out at night and YOU won’t get service until the next day……AND THERE go your lights also!!!!!!  We do have a propane generator and solar. Not enough to run the flood lights though, but we have talked about possible solutions for that.  For right now we have a flashlight within easy reach at night in case the power goes out and Lee walked me through today how to reset the breakers on the generator.  

I used candles, lanterns and flashlights!!!

Oh and if you do have a problem, don’t be demanding……I don’t know what prompted the gate guard employee to lecture you but YOU ARE IN ESSENCE BOONDOCKING with a small convenience!!!! and getting paid for it!!!!!  I didn’t feel we were being demanding but rather standing up for ourselves, but it may have been perceived that way.  No one ever said to us in the orientation process that we were boondocking.  We were told we would have water and power onsite so I thought of it more as a construction trailer situation with our house being the trailer. To me it still feels that way.  Boondocking is when services are farther away.  That’s just my take on it though, I can see your perspective. 

There is also a BIGGER WALMART in Pleasanton and one in Devine! Thanks I appreciate that.

OH and NOT ALL GUARD COMPANIES treat you the same!!!!  We were NEVER lectured by the company we worked for when things went south!!!! Good to know.

Sorry if I sound harsh but let me tell you, Gate Guarding is NOT for everyone!!!  For my husband and I, we enjoyed it….due to all the animals, people we met, being quiet and we had the loveliest sunrises and sunsets!!!  Yes sometimes boring….but we watched TV and movies, listened to the radio outside and danced under the stars, saw rattlers, other snakes, coyotes (love the howling at night), wild hogs,  horny toad lizards, cattle, different kinds of birds and butterflies, cougars, bobcats, deer, watched eclipses, stargazing, milky way viewing, international space station sightings and even one UFO!!!!  That’s great to hear.  So far we like it too, but it’s early days yet.  The work is definitely MUCH easier than anything we have done to date which is nice.  And in case I don’t say it enough I encourage everyone to try these jobs for themselves.  People are all different and something I am not crazy about you might love.  Hopefully what you read here will help you be better prepared than we were though if you accept one of the positions. And really that is my main goal, writing the blog I wish I could have read. 

It really is too bad, you never met us…..maybe we could have given you some OTHER answers to your questions.  Yes maybe we haven’t done it as long as the other couple did….4 years….but the MORE you hear, the more advice you can pick up!!!!  Fair enough and I appreciate your reaching out. 

And my suggestion to you two, be MORE POSITIVE!!!! You can tell your stories but watch the negativity!!!!!  Each experience is just that, an experience!!! That’s a really fair point and one I have to say I worry very much about.  To the point that when we were writing about Christmas trees, I called my mother-in-law (my moral compass on certain issues) and asked her if I was being too negative.  She said it was fine as long as I admitted to my readers that sometimes I was just being whiny.  So in case I haven’t made that clear, sometimes I am just having a bad day. That being said, it is always something I need to keep an eye on because I never would want to discourage anyone from trying this lifestyle.  I try to be as honest as I can stand to be and not turn anyone off.  I think most of the time I get it right, but sometimes I am either too “Pollyanna” or too negative, and sometimes there are other factors that I don’t talk about that are affecting me.  I am a person not a personality.  

This lifestyle is not a place to make money and survive!!!! Good luck on that!!!!  I have to completely disagree with you on this one.  I have met some people who state they are earning their entire budget by working on the road.  After the last two years I now completely believe that is possible.  By reducing costs and taking numerous jobs throughout the year the math can work.  What I don’t know yet is whether we will want to do this.  That’s what we are trying to figure out, and what I think many people find so interesting.  

From an UNSOLICITED ADVISOR!!!!  Appreciate you reaching out and again I am sorry we didn’t get to meet in Q.  Take care, Trace

 


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33 thoughts on “First Time Gate Guarding – Day 4

  1. Here’s MY “unsolicited advice”: respond to all such emails with a polite thank you and then delete. You do you and ignore people like this. If they want to hold forth, let them get their own blog. Anyone who takes it upon themselves to lecture and SHOUT at you via email does not need to be given one ounce of your energy. Sheesh. People.

  2. Trace: Reading your blogs, I don’t see “negativity” but simply the “frustrations” that you go through which is part of any lifestyle experience. You get frustrated, you get up and dust yourself off and continue on to face the challenges. Yourself and Lee are doing this your way, which is the right way for you and when it isn’t working, you’ll make adjustments. Continue on. : )

  3. Your posts have been honest with both the good and bad. Clearly workamping jobs are full of both (just like any job) and you’ve shared those. I like them because they’re ‘firsts’ and we get to read the good and the bad of a first-timer doing these things. Let her email be (as my dad used to say) “like water off a ducks back”…..

  4. Your response to the readers email was much more generous than mine would have been😉 How is “that” for being “positive”? LOL😉😄 You are doing a very good job IMHO of expressing your truth with courage and honest introspection….do not change a single thing!! Remeber the old saying ” You can not please all of the people all of the time”

    • That’s absolutely true. I worried more about that when I first starting writing, but I get enough positive feedback at this point I largely feel like I am in the right track. That being said I need to guard against “getting on my high horse” as a friend recently cautioned against and emails like these certainly help with that.

  5. WOW…….Lee and Tracy I faithfully read your blog and you are NOT negative! My question is why did this person not sign their name to their e-mail? Lee and Tracy keep on doing what you are doing you provide a wonderful blog.

  6. Tracy I have followed your blog from the beginning and continue to follow because you are honest about YOUR experiences and YOUR opinions. This is real life and real life isn’t always pretty or fun. We all have ups and downs and good and bad days. Anyone who says they don’t is lying. Please keep telling us the truth!

  7. I should probably respond more but I really enjoy reading your updates. I share those with my husband. I especially enjoy it when you’re in locations we are familiar with.
    Everyone is allowed shitty days. We have them whether you’re working full time or trying to find the balance being workampers and enjoy being ft rv-ers.
    I don’t find your updates negative at all. It’s real life. But I do hope you are able to find some more fun time. It does feel that’s been a little lacking the last few jobs.
    ((Hugs)) it’s a tough time. Your mom knows and she’ll let you know if you need to be there in person. It is nice that you are able to stay in touch with everyone tho. That makes it better.

  8. Tracy and Lee, just doing what you’re doing. Your honesty and knowing you have been RV-DREAMS “students” just enforceso the issue that the only correct way to to do anything is, is if it’s correct for YOU. I don’t like being lectured either and the email came across as that. You will think things through and figure stuff out. You two are educated and in due course in the learning curve, things will become obvious. Keep on keeping on. 🙂

  9. Wow. You were very patient with your response. I do think you point out some negatives in your blog. But that is okay. It’s your blog, your opinion.
    I appreciate the candor.
    Keep it up, but you CAN hit the delete button. 🙂

  10. I totally agree with Ellen – it would have been very difficult for me to be so polite in my reply! Wow!
    You keep telling it your way – as you’ve always done! It’s YOUR blog! And it’s awesome – as are YOU!
    Hugs! ❤️

  11. We have friends who have been gate guards for years, and I agree, it’s not for everyone. I mean, I’m an oil brat from way back and I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it. 🙂 If you want to avoid rattlesnakes, get yourself a good pair of cowboy boots. Those things on amazon might be less expensive, but hey, cowboy boots! You must be in much warmer weather than we are on the ranch, because our snakes are not out yet. But, ew. Love the coyotes at night as they cross behind our rig on the ranch.

  12. You were very kind in your response, especially since you were approached in such a negative manner.

    It’s your life and your story, tell it your way.

  13. We used to have coyotes by our house in Grand Rapids, Michigan. No rattlesnakes, though. Good thing you stopped wearing those vests, Trace, as the bees down there are killer bees. We realized that after we were in a field full of them in Big Bend last year!

      • The amateur psychiatrist in me says the Emailer still has a chip on her shoulder because you did not solicit their advice earlier. She made some good points, but could have made them without the ALL CAPS and exclamation points!!!!!! ( just kidding). I for one am very appreciative of the detailed blog reports. I now know the beet harvest and selling Christmas trees is not in my future. We will stay with gas line surveying for the time being. Thanks.

  14. You handled that response with grace and tact, perhaps the “gentle reader” can learn a thing or two from you in how to respectfully disagree… 😉
    I don’t find you to be “negative” – rather you are honestly expressing the ups and downs of your experienced as you feel and see them. Being under appreciated, taken advantage of and overworked are understandably frustrating situations. Mrs. Shouty Caps should perhaps take a look in the mirror and determine if the point of her hostility has less to do with your perceived “negativity” and more to do with her hurt feelings in not being the “sage advisor” she was wanting to be… just my two cents…

  15. I’ve only been following your blog since your Alaska gig, but what keeps me coming back is the honesty and detail in your writing. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  16. You are a WAY WAY better person than me. I have enjoyed reading your blog and applaud you for being honest about your feelings and opinions. As someone who may be considering full timing in the future, I appreciate your candor. Its a blog people – if you don’t like the content than dont read it! I, on the other hand, will keep reading it as I think your content is fabulous and I am living vicariously through your full-time journey!

  17. Please continue to blog as you have been (including the negative replies from your readers). For those of us who read your blog regularly, I can put in perspective your opinions and tone at that moment in time. I feel it’s important to read blogs in their totality, over time to gain insight into the writer’s approach at describing their experiences and how they draw conclusions or opinions. I especially appreciate your honesty and willingness to expose your emotions. On the other hand, some full timing RVers sound too good to be true. Maybe it’s their attempt to justify their lifestyle for the benefit of naysayers. As we are still a few years away from beginning the full timing RV life, I will continue to depend on your honest blogging. Keep up the good work as you pay it forward for people like me!

    • Thanks Stacy I totally agree with you about putting a blog in perspective of its totality. Someone once told me it takes “commitment” to read my blog and I had to laugh because I know I am pretty verbose at times. I do worry about folks that “skim” not because I have any expectation folks will read every word, but I am worried things I say could be taken out of context. But what are you gonna do? I put it out there and people have every right to read and interpret it anyway they want. People like you who read it all though seem to totality get it, which is comforting.

  18. Tracy, you must be doing something right to receive strong opinions. Many of us just write about the weather and the good stuff that happens in the day. You are honest with your feelings and thoughts and that is refreshing, even when it does sound a little negative.

    Sorry to hear about your step-dad. It is hard sometimes when on the road and caught in a situation where obligations prevent you from leaving. I think you made the right choice for the circumstances. Wish I were closer. I could have given a helping hand.

    • That’s really sweet Doug. Thanks for that. I talked to my Mom today and she is fine with my decision and as a reader totally understood my talking about it which was great. She has a wonderful support system in place which is super comforting.

  19. I just wanted to tell you not to worry to much about what the Unsolicited Advisor said about being “too negative “. For someone like me who is still in the planning stages of full timing, I appreciate your honest opinions and don’t want everything sugar coated and viewed through rose glasses! I have been enjoying your blog and I wouldn’t change a thing. I know I will feel more confident and make more informed choices on where my husband and I will live and work because of your honest appraisals of the areas you were! Thank you!

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