First Time Gate Guarding – Days 36 and 37

Day 36

Thanks for everyone who reached out.  I am feeling OK.  My knee is still a little sore, but not too bad so I’m good to go.  Thankfully it was pretty slow last night because it stayed windy, but I do have to shut the gate at night, and I was of course extra careful.  I had a wonderful conversation with my oldest daughter, and we talked about the home movie videos she’s been watching.  I think it is a real gift to be able to see so much of your childhood.  I wish we had movies from when I was a kid, but there are only a couple short ones that I know of.  Anyway, Kyrston reads the blog and mentioned how much we talk about the gate.  It’s true.  The gate is somewhat omnipresent in our lives, because we look at it all the time, deal with it all the time, It’s our view and our work

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I can definitely see how the gate could take on a personality in a situation like this.  I mean you might either love your gate or hate your gate.  In our case that hasn’t really happened yet, but I am 100% sure that I will be able to picture this gate for the rest of my life.  I’ve spent enough time looking at it.  Now that I have set all that up, of course I am going to talk more about the gate!!  I was sitting here writing the blog when Lee came in and told me the company man that our account manager had called last night just drove through.  We don’t see a lot of this particular guy so I asked Lee if he had said anything about the gate being opened, since it was once again very windy and Lee had opened it about an hour before.  Lee said he didn’t say anything, but I watched for his truck to come back out because I wanted to try something.

There is a technique for conflict resolution that I have used very successfully in the past and that is to personalize an issue.  This doesn’t work for lots of people, mainly because they don’t like to show weakness, but I never had much of an issue with that.  When I saw the truck on its way out,  I walked outside and started with apologizing for needing to keep it open on windy days.  I said I didn’t want to be an exception, but was not physically strong  enough to manhandle the gate in high winds and the accident I had yesterday had really scared me.  That last thing,  if nothing else, seemed to register with him and he asked if I was OK, and I said I was, but I also made it clear I felt I had been lucky. Then I mentioned that the construction company was supposed to solve the problem but got pulled for another job, and we weren’t sure when it would be completed, but I really felt that would solve the problem.  He drove off without saying anything and I walked inside thinking “Well, at least I  tried”.  Less than one hour later the construction company was onsite with a welder and some rods.  In less than 30 minutes they had the two drop rods in place and problem solved.

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These guys had welding equipment and pipe cutting tools right on the truck

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The rod “handle” swings over and can rest on a hole in the gate to keep it in the up position

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Finally found the sweet spot of where to put them, and now the wind never pushes them

 

So there you have it, and hopefully this is my last blog post about the structure of the gate!!  I did want to talk a little bit though about the blog, and it’s current format.  In general, I am not all that crazy about having to do a post every day, but since we are trying to really capture the spirit of working here, skipping days doesn’t seem like the right way to approach it.  Showing what happens every day shows progression, and I think that will be especially useful because this was a brand new gate, and things change as we enter new phases.  I do worry that it will be too tedious though, and  I am looking forward to getting back to posting based on experiences rather than days.  Lee, who thinks I worry too much about this stuff,  made a good point though when we were talking about it this morning, and quoted a Facebook post he saw.

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He has a good point.  Lots of blogs, mine included, sometimes read like a highlight reel.  There’s nothing wrong with that, indeed it’s much more fun to write about the highlights and leave the more mundane out of the picture.  We did that most of the first year on the road and I largely used that format in Alaska. The problem is it presents a somewhat  skewed idea of what this lifestyle can really be like for some people, and even I fall prey to looking at other people’s blog posts or Facebook pictures and feeling incredibly jealous of their life.  The reality of course is they still have to clean, make dinner, hitch/unhitch, do laundry, and all  of the other myriad of tasks that make up a life.

So I am trying to strike a balance; show the relevant detail without sharing what I consider trivialities.  For example, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch today.  Now if there was something interesting about the peanut butter, like I made it in my Instant Pot, I might share that, but otherwise, honestly, who cares?   Sharing too much trivia I think we lose the experience just as much as if we only talk about the highlights.  I am looking for something in between.  And that’s always been much easier when lots of things are happening.  Either way, this blog has always been (for me) a good indicator of how much balance we have in our lives.

Day 37

It was cold and windy last night, dropping down into the low 50’s.  Luckily traffic is still pretty light so mostly I was inside nice and toasty.  Oh, and I forgot to share last week’s tracking sheet.  (I could hear people clamoring for it. You damn near had a pitchfork-and-torch wielding mob on your hands. Close call. – Lee) As you can see, traffic was very low for almost every day except one, but the spread of trucks is still over most of the hours of the shift.  When there are only a few trucks an hour though you still have lots of  downtime, which makes the low hourly rate more palatable. Oh, and I also forgot to mention yesterday that one of the guys who works here gave me what was left of his Pizza Hut pizza.  6 slices of  pepperoni and mushroom (my favorite) and it was a really sweet gesture and appreciated.  I’ve been wanting Pizza Hut for a while, but  we already spent our eating out money on the anniversary dinner, so this was a nice little gift.

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After I woke up I went to the grocery store and got everything I would need to finish my last few remaining recipes for my recipe book.  I have two new ones left, and one more to remake to get the picture, and I am pretty excited about that.  Then I need to check all the formatting, spell check, order them, and figure out how to publish.  The last bit will be some work in and of itself, but I am happy to be close to moving towards those last steps.

Lee on the other hand has been deep in editing and working around a much higher truck volume the last couple of days.  We are pretty sure we have entered a new phase because there are lots of new types of trucks that need put into the database.  At one point he had a convoy of 10 flatbed semis, each with about fifty 50′ long drill bits on them, but for safety he just waved them through.  All that traffic was making us both a little cranky.  Several of the new drivers didn’t want to wait to be put in the system and were trying to creep through the gate.  Finally I got tired of that so I stopped opening the gate until I had their license plates in the system.  I do find it interesting though that these experienced drivers would try that.  All I hear from the gate guard community is how anal they are about gathering information, but these guys all kept trying to blow right through.  If everyone was stopping people every time you would think they wouldn’t even try.  We’ve been through this a couple of times with new people though, and once they are in the system and see how we handle the gate things usually get back to normal, but transitions are always a bit stressful.

I was also cooking while running the gate in the evening and the starting and stopping was driving me nuts.  This is absolutely the wrong attitude for this job, so I had to keep reminding myself that trucks weren’t interrupting me, but I was doing something in the slow times.  It’s largely a state of mind, but it matters, at least for us.  Plus after 35 days with no full day off I think we are both a little weary.  The job isn’t physically demanding but you are sort of always “on” unless you are sleeping, even when it’s the other person’s shift.  Well, actually, if one person is sitting outside you can mentally tune it out, but when we are both inside you are both kind of on alert.  It’s tiring. And it’s the little things.  Like we love The Walking Dead and want to watch the newest episode without interruption, but unless we watch it separately that can’t happen.  Or that I would really like to go see my friend Cori who is two hours away, but there isn’t enough time for me to get there and back during my 4 hour awake-but-not-working time period.  Most things we can do, but those few we can’t sometimes bother us.

Towards the end of the day during a rare slow period  we did have a nice moment, when Lee noticed a hawk sitting right on the right side our gate closest to the rig.  (See? You thought she was all done talking about the gate. She lied. – Lee) He very slowly opened the door and I got to take several pictures before it flew away.  First time I have seen one that close here and he posed for me very nicely.  It was really cool since he was so close to the rig and we both really enjoyed that moment. (There’s also a GIANT roadrunner that lives behind the rig in the “woods” and I see him at least twice a day bopping around the generator. But as soon as he sees me he takes off, and he is FAST. I’m going to try to sit in the truck some time in the next few days and use it as a blind and see if I can get some shots. – Lee) 

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8 thoughts on “First Time Gate Guarding – Days 36 and 37

  1. I appreciate all the details which are a great view of what it’s like to do the work you guys are doing. Karen and I have been talking about working up at Yellowstone National Park, maybe in a book store or similar. Wish I could find a blog with details about that as well written as yours. Still trying to talk her into doing the amusement park thing someday. However that may never happened simply because I’d have to talk her into it which is not a good way to take a job on.

  2. Tracy, not sure if you follow “wheeling It” blog, But they have been full time about 9 years.
    They just posted a monthly/yearly comparison of about 10 full timers. Very interesting,
    If you get a chance you might want to take a look.

  3. From the standpoint of you two currently not having any time off together, I think you will find Amazon to be a welcome change. Of course, you will have to look past their self-admitted ‘peculiar’ ways of doing things. That can be easier said than done. 😳

    So sad that the JimJamb ™©® had been replaced by a lowly piece of rerod with a kink in it. So sad. It was a great run. 😉

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