For the past seven months while working in Watford City, I have seen several of my neighbors move out and move away each month because they lost their job. During the past several weeks I have been looking at the internet job site Indeed.com, and the North Dakota Job Services website, for job listings in Watford City and Dickinson, and there are very few jobs. Yes, there is a similar job advertisement for Registered Nurses that gets repeated over and over, but there always is. Lately there is usually a job listing for a heavy equipment mechanic, an electrician, a welder, and a truck driver, and I mean one listing for one position. The amount of jobs advertised for Watford City and Dickinson is probably the same as, or less than Bismarck, Fargo, or Billings. At this time, more of the out of state workers will have to return home, start over again in some other city away from home, and maybe even some local Watford City and Dickinson residents will have to leave and go to work out of state.
I want to give some recommendations and warnings to people who are not experienced in having to leave home and go to work out of state, and give some reminders to those who do have to have to look for work out of state from time to time.
I can not warn North Dakotans strongly enough that it will not be easy or safe going to look for work out of state. When I went to look for work in Dallas, Texas in 2012, the very first night that I was there in a motel, someone took a utility knife, shoved the blade in my truck tire and broke it off. I believe that it was this angry black guy, who somehow didn’t like the Idaho license plate on my truck, thinking that Idahoans were racist. People in Texas don’t even know where Idaho is on the map. If you recall from the national news in July of this year, a black man shot six white police officers in Dallas. You had better believe me that in Dallas and Houston, which are about 40% Black, that they don’t like Whites, and that they will rob you and assault you as if you were in Somalia, especially, especially because you are White and have a North Dakota license plate.
You need to obtain a concealed weapons permit while you are still in North Dakota, before you leave to go to try to find a job in states like Texas, Arizona, Colorado, or Florida. Most states honor other states’ concealed weapons licenses. Traveling in an area with an out of state license plate, being unfamiliar with the area, is very dangerous. When you are driving, at a gas station, at a restaurant, or at a motel, you are very likely to be the victim of robbery or a theft. If you are from North Dakota, I don’t know how I am going to make you understand how prevalent crime is outside of North Dakota, and how likely you are to be victimized while traveling out of state. You need to have a firearm on your person, and in your vehicle, but you need to have a concealed weapons permit because you are more likely to be stopped by the police and have your vehicle searched with an out of state license plate.
When you go to work or look for work out of state, I recommend that you take a truck or SUV instead of a car if possible, bigger is better up to a point. There are several reasons for this. One, when you are in traffic and unfamiliar with the roads and highways, people will let you change lanes and try to stay out of your way more when you are in a larger vehicle. Two, when you are unfamiliar with roads in an area, and you make a mistake, with a larger vehicle people make an extra effort to move out of the way and not get hit with your vehicle. Three, if you have an accident, with a larger vehicle you are more likely to have a vehicle that has survived the accident and you can continue trying to find work, rather than having a car that is destroyed and having to take a bus back to North Dakota.
What I have done for the past fifteen years, whether in the backseat of my truck or the backseat of my SUV, I have a large sturdy trunk which has a padlock, and the padlock has a chain which locks the trunk to a seat frame. A thief would have to break my vehicle window to unlock the door, but the thief could not carry away the trunk because it is chained to the seat, and it would make a lot of noise and take a while to beat the trunk open. What crack heads and meth addicts are looking for, are certain items that are easy to grab out of vehicles, typical items in plain view: pocket book, wallet, check book, CD collection, radar detector, laptop computer, briefcase. I try to keep valuables and things that I don’t want to get stolen, locked in the trunk in the backseat.
I hope you know that you are going to have to sleep in your vehicle mostly when you are going to work or looking for work out of state. When you are driving a long way, it is better to pull into a rest area and sleep for a while when you get tired, and when you feel like driving again, drive. Planning on staying in a motel while trying to get somewhere is like planning on wasting time and wasting money. If you try to get your money’s worth out of your motel, you are just wasting time there. It doesn’t matter that you are wrinkled when you are trying to get where you are going, and if you look a little rough it probably actually keeps people away from you when you are traveling. You do want to get cleaned up as much as you can before you meet people regarding your employment.
I didn’t say anything about it, because I wasn’t thinking about it because I am not married, you don’t want to bring your wife or girlfriend with you when you are going to look for work out of state, because it will not be fun or pleasant. If your family’s financial outlook is bad enough to where you have to look for work out of state, you don’t want to take your wife or girlfriend with you and try to make it a pleasant trip, because it will cost you about four times as much: stopping at restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; staying at a “nice” motel every night.
I will cover this in more detail in Part II, but you absolutely need to leave your wife and children behind when you go to work out of state, and for at least several months after you begin working. If you don’t do it this way, you will very likely end up worse off than if you hadn’t gone to work out of state at all.