I have lived and worked in North Dakota for a little over five years now. I have worked in the following towns, in order of largest to smallest: Bismarck – 73K; Dickinson – 25K; Watford City – 6K; New Town – 3K; Killdeer – 2K; New England – 1K; Belfield – 1K; Richardton – 600; South Heart – 500; Taylor – 300; Gladstone – 300; and Dunn Center – 200.
When I arrived for the first time in North Dakota back in 2011, at first everything was a new and exciting adventure for me. Within about three months of living and working in North Dakota, it became more of frightening, worrisome, and scary adventure. I came to have a great deal of apprehension about what my employer, co-workers, local people, and the Police were going to do to me next.
I came to realize that many or most of the local people from North Dakota were hostile, mean, unfriendly, hateful, uncooperative, and not helpful. I came to be worried about my safety at work because my co-workers were not careful, so many of them were getting hurt, and everyone seemed to find a way to injure their co-workers. It was as if the employers in Dickinson could not see the disarray, or straighten things out, however in time it came to appear more likely that the employers in Dickinson deliberately wanted the disorder and ineffectiveness, for reasons that I won’t elaborate on now.
The Police in Dickinson also seemed to have a hatred for people, and a predatory desire to arrest as many people as possible. Before long, living in Dickinson for me became like being in prison. There was no where to go, nothing to do, I was in danger of physical harm all day every day, and the Police were always trying to get me for something.
When I went to work outside of Dickinson in some place new, I looked at it as an opportunity to go to a better place. I thought that in some other place, there might be nicer people, attractive women, or better restaurants. In the places that I worked outside of Dickinson, I came to find out that most of them were even more unpleasant than Dickinson.
Outside of Dickinson, there were even less attractive women, and even less restaurants. In Watford City, the Police were even more aggressive and constantly trying to sneak up on me, even more so than in Dickinson.
Within a couple of years of living in North Dakota, and having worked in several small towns, I learned to be very cautious about the small towns. You have to be very watchful and careful about the small town Police. Because there is very little going on in small towns, the Police do not have a lot to do. They spend their time fantasizing about crime, criminals, and making a big arrest.
When a vehicle that the Police do not recognize drives through a small town in North Dakota, that vehicle and its occupants assume the roles that the Police officer has been fantasizing about for days, weeks, months, and years. They want to try to stop your vehicle for any reason whatsoever, so that they can see who you are, ask you questions, decipher and detect what crime you are involved in, and make an arrest.
Also in the small towns in North Dakota, the local people are not that different than the small town Police in their fantasizing, imagining, and mistrust for people from somewhere else.
I decided to write this blog post, because of two recent incidents that happened to me. I began working about one hour’s drive from Dickinson in the beginning of November. At first, I was happy to be getting out of Dickinson, and I was looking forward to change. I hoped that I might meet some nice people or attractive women in the rural, sparsely populated area that I was going to.
The closest town to my job site, is about ten miles away. The small gas station in this town, and the small grocery store both close at 6:00 p.m., which is before I get off work at night. After a couple of weeks of being alone all night after work, staying in a trailer at the job site, I looked forward to going to a restaurant for dinner in a town about 20 miles away.
When I got to the town 20 miles away, I found that the restaurant closes at 7:00 p.m., I was too late. I went to the grocery store in this town, which closes at 8:00 p.m. After I had paid for my groceries, and I was walking out of this store carrying my groceries to my vehicle, a store employee came outside and held up his cell phone pointing it at me to either photograph me or video record me going to my vehicle.
At that moment, I was both slightly amused and slightly irritated. This was such a big deal, someone that they did not know coming into their grocery store, that they had to photograph me. Their imaginations must have been running wild, who knows what they thought I was going to do. After a few more minutes, I felt insulted.
As I was driving back to the job site, I began to think that this was not good. If the people in this grocery store were so sure that I was some kind of criminal, so convinced of this that one of them followed me outside to photograph me and my vehicle, maybe I should just buy all of my groceries in Dickinson.
My current job assignment is a good one. I am taking over from a ten year employee who recently got let go due to a conflict with a local person at the job site. No one could have foreseen that what this ten year employee did would have resulted in him losing his job, but it did. I do not want the same thing to happen to me, so I do not want to have any conflict with the local people.
The day following the incident at the grocery store 20 miles away, I had to take the company vehicle to the gas station 10 miles away from the job site to get fuel. This was the fourth time this month that I have had to take this company vehicle to this gas station where there is a company account.
This time, the middle-aged woman at this gas station could not understand or did not want to understand anything that I was saying to her. I said to her that the vehicle parked at pump #3, (which has the company name on the door and was parked closest to the store window), we have a company account under the name …., I would like to put about xx gallons in it. She could not understand what I was saying, though I repeated what I was saying, twice to her. An older man at the counter to told me to go ahead.
I went outside, and I tried to get the pump to start more that several times, but it would not start. Keep in mind, that this was the fourth time that I had taken this company vehicle to this gas station this month. I gave up trying to put fuel in it, and I began cleaning each of the windows, while I thought about what I wanted to do. I did not want to get into a conflict with these people.
This was the only gas station in this town, and it was 10 miles from the job site. The next closest gas station was 20 miles from the job site. The owner of the company had opened an account with this gas station. Any kind of disagreement whatsoever, even a minor one, I am sure that these people at this gas station would have told the company owner how “rude” I was. Then, they would have started politicking with the local people about what a “rude” and “asshole” person I was, and very likely gotten me fired, just like the person who I replaced.
Meanwhile, during this delay, a couple of local people stopped and asked me about what I was doing, one because he did not recognize my vehicle, and the other because he did recognize my vehicle. I am not supposed to say anything whatsoever about the project that I am working on, and anything that I said would jeopardize my job.
I went back inside the gas station, prepared to say that I would send someone else back tomorrow to get fuel, I needed to go and didn’t need the fuel right now. I needed to tell them that I did not get fuel, so that there would be no misunderstanding, or a billing for the fuel amount that was already displayed at the pump. The older man started the pump, and I got fuel.
Were the people at this gas station, trying to be difficult? Were they trying to start a problem? This is the only gas station in this town. Any kind of disagreement, I would have lost. The owner of the company would have thought, why can’t I just go get fuel without getting into an argument, what is wrong with me? I don’t know, why can’t I just go get fuel, like I have been for the past 32 years of driving?
I talked to a co-worker, a North Dakota native who is older than me, who has worked at this job site longer than me, and I asked him if he had had problems at this gas station. He said yes, but it had not come to the point of him having to leave without getting fuel. I discussed that I might bring fuel from Dickinson, or I might wait until after this gas station closes at night, in order to get fuel with my own personal credit or debit card. I do not want to get into any conflict with these local people, and I do not want to have any kind of delay in which local people want to ask me questions about work.