Strange Behavior In Dickinson, North Dakota

In 2011 when I first came to work in Dickinson, North Dakota, I tried to make friends with the property owner who lived next door to the company where I worked.  I was staying in my truck bed camper on the back of the property of the company where I worked.  In the evening, I would talk to the property owner on the other side of the chain link fence. He was living in an old travel trailer on his property, and he did not want to be friends at first.

In the evening, I would sometimes go to the Tiger Truck stop to connect to the internet with my laptop computer.  At the Tiger Truck stop, I became friends with other oil field workers who came there in the evening with their laptop computers to connect to the internet.  But who also showed up in the evening at the Tiger Truck stop, was my neighbor who lived on the property on the other side of the fence where I worked.  He did not have running water at his travel trailer, and he came to the Tiger Truck stop sometimes to take a shower.

After some time, I got to know this neighbor very well and we became friends.  Many local people said that he was crazy, and yes, he was mentally ill.  I introduced him to other people that I knew, and he became friends or acquaintances with them.  Myself and my friends that I had introduced to him, we were all told the details of developers’ offers to buy his land for $2 million to $2.5 million, which he repeatedly refused.  He did not have running water or sewer at his old, twenty foot long travel trailer that he lived in, and he had to use the bathroom at gas stations, and take showers at the truck stop or the West River Community Center, yet he would not accept $2.5 million for his land.  He wanted more money than this for his land, though he had purchased it for about $20,000.

He often talked about the greed in Dickinson, North Dakota, always referring to other people, but he was one of the greediest people that I have ever met.  None of the local people in Dickinson wanted to be friends with him or have anything to do with him, including his own family, they were all sick and tired of him.  Myself and some of my friends loaned him money from time to time, which he paid back when he received money from his family trust.  We invited him places, helped him when he had vehicle problems, and helped him with some of his projects that he needed help with.  But he was very little help when myself or my friends needed help.

One of my friends from Wyoming explained to me, “He has got this strange kind of sickness that people in Dickinson have, where they hate each other, can’t get along, won’t help anybody, try to take advantage of everybody else, think that everybody is out to get them and steal from them, and then they complain about how they are treated unfairly.”  In other words:  they hate people, yet complain that they are hated; they will not help anybody, yet complain that no one will help them; they try to take advantage of other people, yet complain that people are out to get them and steal from them.  He and other people in Dickinson, have this extreme hypocrisy, which you would have to be mentally ill in order to sustain this internal mental operating system because it is so self-contradictory.  He died about one year ago.

I tried to make friends with another one of my neighbors in Dickinson recently, and I am very disappointed and discouraged because he is turning out to be a very rotten person.  I think that he is probably the most selfish person that I have ever met, and one of the most negative.  What I had thought was just eccentric or quirky behavior, nothing more than that, was just the tip of the iceberg of some underlying severe mental illness.  Had I known this, I would not have tried to become friends.  But I am writing about this neighbor, because he has this same type of extreme hypocrisy that people have in Dickinson.

He personally wants help for himself, but he has no intention of helping other people, desire to help other people, or history of helping other people.  He seeks out different churches, but he has no intention or desire to practice Christianity.  He complains about rules, laws, and ordinances which adversely affect him, but he is all for rules, laws, and ordinances which adversely affect other people.

One of the things that I was thinking about today that caused me to write this particular blog post, was that I was observing today in Dickinson, that the local people are becoming even more unfriendly now, than they have been during the past six years.  How this is even possible is astonishing and alarming to me.

What I had thought, and what other people had thought, was that the people in Dickinson were hostile and unfriendly because their town had just been invaded by about 5,000 oil field workers during the oil boom.  What I had not known, was that the invasion of 5,000 oil field workers had actually calmed down and assuaged their normally higher levels of hostility and unfriendliness.

1 thought on “Strange Behavior In Dickinson, North Dakota

  1. I collect books and have a special love for old books. I don’t get into book snobbery, first editions, etc., I just like old stories. Some years ago, I read an excellent short story about a man who essentially loses his soul from his own greed, avarice. (I’ve been trying to recall the name of the story in order to share it with you. For the life of me, I can’t remember which of my books contains it. If I find it, I’ll be back to share a link, if possible.)

    The premise is an old dude who lives out in the middle of nowhere. He hardly has a roof over his head. I can’t remember if he had a wife or anybody. I think he was alone. Anyway, he’s poor as all get out, but gets very lucky. Oil is discovered on his land. A pumpjack is installed. The man is in heaven, going to sleep at night with the beautiful sound of that machine, pulling money out the ground for him night and day. Soon he’s very wealthy. He buys virtually everything he’s ever wanted and STILL that money keeps rolling in.

    Horror of horrors. He looks across his field and realizes his neighbor, a man as poor as he used to be (but one hell of a nice, good man, incidentally) has a pumpjack going in on his property.

    The man can’t sleep at night. It sounds like his pumpjack isn’t pulling as quickly as before. Despite the fact he’s wealthy beyond any dream his feckless self ever had, it isn’t enough. His neighbor is STEALING from him, he thinks. That’s HIS oil under the ground and there’s his neighbor taking it!

    He was never much of a man and all that money only made him worse. His neighbor (if I’m remembering correctly) just continued being a decent person, only now he had money. The ending, well…I’ll leave you to imagine (unless I can find a link).

    I shared that because I’ve lived in so many oil towns… Prior to ND, never one with a recent “boom”. Here’s a little bit of what I think about Dickinson, and maybe, if it’s accurate, it would apply to any area in which part of the population gets really wealthy (for doing maybe very little, only being fortunate that ancestors had wherewithal and maybe good sense to buy or earn some land) and their neighbors, people they may have known forever, do not.

    I think some of the indigenous folks look at those of us who came here as the ones who are helping “Joe” (the guy they knew in high school, the guy who’s now bloody rich while they are not) get ahead. Maybe they feel o.k. disliking us, rather than disliking Joe (because heck, his dad grew up with their dad). OR maybe they dislike us for aiding and abetting Joe in his newfound bloody riches AND they dislike Joe, lol.

    Think about it, please. It has to be kind of terrible to live somewhere forever, knowing the same people forever…then voilá, dirt poor maybe average Joe is so wealthy he never has to work again. Meanwhile, you’re wondering if maybe someday you can get a boat, maybe take a week off and go to the Black Hills. It’d be easy to become very bitter. It isn’t good, it isn’t Christian, but it IS very human.

    Too-long story short, I think sometimes locals dislike us if they’re not among the class who really got lucky.


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