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Another Week in Paradise

So far, I’m having a great time gate guarding. The gate is currently slow, has been for 2 weeks, so I have lots of time to work on my RV and other projects. The pay is great so I’m starting to pay down my bills and hope to get debt free at some point. Not having to pay for the site or utilities sure helps. Hoping to stay on this gate awhile to keep gas costs down too. I have satellite TV, internet, phone, air conditioning, all the books I can read on my Kindle, etc. so life inside my rolling box is pretty good.

When I started this gate, it got very busy real fast for a week. I had trucks and people coming in and out constantly all day from 4:30am-7pm. Unlike other 24/7 gates, the company at this one shuts down in the evening for safety reasons. I really appreciated that break to sleep and recover. Even living right next to the gate requires quite a bit of physical activity going in and out of the RV to the gate. Now that it is lighter, my muscles have been complaining so I am walking up and down the road inside the gate to keep them tuned and of course, I take my camera. You never know when a great shot will appear. There are lots of small animals and cactus about to bloom around here. Sometimes I just see something from a different angle and need to get another pic of it.

Texas turtleCactus flower

Most of the people I have met have been pretty nice and they often stop on the way out to ask if I need anything from town. A couple of them have been a bit cranky but making an extra effort to learn their vehicles, names, and faces has helped. The main thing is to be friendly while staying professional. A big smile and welcome or goodbye go a long way. I always thank them after logging them in or out and wave to them. It helps to be flexible too. When I get a long line going out, I work my way down the line rather than waiting for them to get to me so they can get out faster. They appreciate that.

This week I’ll start looking for someone to relieve me for a few hours a week for emergencies, shopping, repairs, etc. I’m getting some relief from my support person every couple of weeks but need to hire someone myself to get more if needed. Doing this as a single is quite a bit harder with no one to help with the work, spell me for sleep or illness, and no one I can send into town for a part or groceries. It was very hard even finding a company that would take me. They all want couples. However, there is always a shortage of couples in summer so that is the best time for a single person to get started. Most companies will take singles to work 10-12 hr gates but there are nowhere near as many of those as there are 24 hr gates. Some singles will team up with someone else but then you have to split the money. I guess that works OK if you don’t have a lot of bills or live nearby. I know several families that have shared gates among them.

Hitch itch can be a problem with guarding. Those of us who are used to traveling can really get it bad after a few weeks of staying in one place but I’m not feeling it yet. It helps to be in an area I am not familiar with and to have pre-planned so many projects to keep me busy. My main itch right now is for a swimming pool or lake but even if I had those I don’t have a bathing suit. I must take care of that problem while I’m here.

I finally got my Texas Level II Security license card the other day which will definitely help with getting other gates. It is good for 2 years. It cost me $58 to apply for it back in March and $9 for fingerprinting and FBI background check. The drug test was free to me so I guess the guard company paid for that. I must have passed the open book test they give you since I got it. No charge for that. Once you apply for the card, you can work as either an employee or contractor for security firms. Many do only contractor status while others make you a pseudo employee meaning you still may not get health insurance and other perks.

As far as pay, the pay rate varies between companies and between gates. They usually pay more for gates where there is more than one rig or activity going on. At least one company has their own RV parks known as yards where you can stay for free between gates so figure that into the pay when you are shopping around for a company to work for. Another company makes you provide your own equipment AND charges you daily for water, generator, fuel, and sewer pumpout which others provide for free. I’m very happy with the company I am working for though I won’t tell you their name. There is always an argument about the pay in guard forums which is usually started by non-guards. If you do the traditional math of dividing the daily pay by 24 hrs then it will appear to be below minimum wage. However, you don’t actually work 24 hrs. How much you work varies from day to day though the pay does not. I have had ridiculously busy days with little sleep and other days with no one coming through the gate at all yet I still got paid the full rate. You also get a free site and usually free utilities which the traditionalists fail to factor in. Since we are working 7 days a week instead of the usual 5 days a week, we are able to earn money faster which is why this job is so attractive to people who need to get out of debt and those who only want to work part of the year and travel for all the rest.

Still, this job is not for everyone. Whether you are a couple or single, you really have to like being out in the middle of nowhere alone. If you are a couple, an RV can shrink down really small after a few weeks so expect your marriage to be tested. There is some danger from illegals, drug traffickers, other miscreants, heavy big rig traffic on two lane roads, wild animals, snakes, tornadoes, hail, winds, etc. There will be some situations where you will need to improvise with no help available. Be sure to bring a good set of tools and know how to use them. Bring extras of everything! Expect a whole lot of heat and sweating. I almost forgot to mention the thousand ants per square inch in Texas too.





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