Hard Labor in Laredo

It seems like out of all the places I’ve been in Texas, Laredo is one of the most often-visited:

Between work trips and just personal trips like my border to border drive or going to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, I have been in Laredo a lot. This trip stemmed off of the information gathering trip I did last time. This time instead of gathering information, it was time to actually go some physical labor and get the network, phone cabling and jacks all wired up.

This trip was going to be the first trip that I went with a coworker. We needed 2 people to run the cables and I am not the most familiar with punch downs or installing the phone system. It was decided that my coworker Tommie would come with me since he primarily takes care of the phone system. He also used to go on the road with another coworker who retired. They did the same kind of work so he was familiar with what needed to be done.

This trip was going to be a Wednesday through Friday trip. It was the first trip that I used a rental vehicle instead of a company car or my own car. We needed to rent a van to be able to transport 2 ladders.

The night before we packed up the van with all the stuff we needed. By 5:30AM Wednesday, we hit the road for Laredo. The office that we were cabling up had previously been a police substation for the Laredo Police Department.

This building was in a rougher part of town and in this picture taken further away, you can see the barbed wire chain link fence.

One thing about this being an old police substation is some lady walked up to the building as I was getting something out of the van. She then asked for an officer. I told her this was no longer a police station and I was an IT guy for the TABC. I asked if it was an emergency and she told me her 4 year old took off on their bike and she couldn’t catch them. I told her to call 911 to get an officer to help her out. The interesting thing is talking to the AT&T guy who came and installed our phone lines the next day, I found out this was kind of a common thing around here with kids just taking off.

The first day, we made pretty good progress. We got all the cables run.

The nice thing is, since this building was setup in the past, there were several empty conduit boxes that made it easy to use some fishing wire and run the cables into where the jacks should be.

One thing about fishing wire is you tape the wire to it and then you cut the wire off. Of course, I had to stab myself with the scissors as I cut the tape. Tommie did the same thing at a different time so I didn’t feel so bad. I used an old Millwright’s trick of using electrical tape to stop the bleeding.

That night Tommie and I headed to Walmart to pick some stuff up. I decided to get a few snacks.

We also decided to get something quick to eat. Right outside of Walmart was a Panda Express.

When we got to the hotel, we realized that social hour was going on and they had chili cheese dogs, along with beer.

The next day (Thursday) AT&T was scheduled to hook up our phone service. It was going to be a simple job but ended up turning into a lot of work for AT&T when they discovered that the box on the telephone pole outside the building had shorted out. From there, a couple technicians came on site to fix it.

During both days, we took a trip to the port of entry office.

The first day, Wednesday, both Tommie and I both went because he had to repair a phone line. I found out one of the handhelds they use at the border had fallen into a mop bucket so I told them to let it dry out and I’d come back the next day to check if it was working or take it with me if it wasn’t. The next day came and there was a little lull in work for me to do since AT&T had just got the phone system up and Tommie had to hook everything up. I then headed to the POE office. The handheld didn’t work so I took it with me.

One thing about the POE office is, it’s about the closest office to Mexico you’re going to get at that bridge.

What I find crazy is when you take a quick glance over and realize that what you are seeing is a whole different country. There’s a whole different set of laws and a whole different way of doing things. You will see a car driving down the road and think that they’re operating under a whole different set of rules and even things such as the speed limit is measured in a whole different measurement system. It’s amazing what a mere couple hundred yards and an invisible line will do.

I was not at the POE office too long. I headed back to the new office and, by then, there was a little more work for me to do. We did take a quick break and get some snacks from the grocery store across the road.

After the snack, we were then able to finish up everything that needed to be done. We headed back to the hotel. Social hour was starting again so we decided to have a full supper there of chicken salad sandwiches and nachos.

Friday morning, we left a bit early. We had to drop the keys for the office off in San Antonio. On the way back through New Braunfels, I saw a truck full of people and a dude just chilling in the back of the truck while going north on I35.

As you can see, I’ve been on the road a lot the past month or so with the office moves and also my trip to Marshfield. It appears I might have a week or two before hitting the road again, but I’m already making plans for an internet connectivity project that involves hitting up every port of entry location. Basically it’ll be 2 weeks in a row, with Laredo being the midpoint, of me driving along the border. I bet that will have some interesting sights. I’m also putting the plans together to do the “Tour of Texas” and visit all the major remote offices like I did in March. Besides the next couple weeks, there’s going to be a lot more traveling in the next couple months.

To see more of my adventures, click on the map! Or if you prefer to see a list of more blog entries, click here.

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