Doing The Right Thing In North Dakota Can Cost You Your Job

In North Dakota, doing the right thing can cost you your job.  I have seen it happen to other people, and it has happened to me too.  For instance, you can read my previous blog posts about “The Disputed Termination Of David Armendariz In Dickinson, North Dakota”.

Some of my blog posts are too long, so I want to try to get right to the point about something that happened to me this week, where I almost lost my job.

For the past year, I have worked at a site that is approximately 100 acres in size.  This week, an outside independent contractor was hired to perform some work at this site.  This contractor had four, one-ton four-wheel-drive trucks on this site.  On the second day of their work, one of these trucks got stuck in a low lying wet area.

This contractor drove up to me, to ask me if I had a tow strap, they could not find any of theirs on any of their trucks.  I had a new 30′ tow strap in my personal vehicle, and also a 30′ heavy duty rope.  I said that I would drive down behind them in my vehicle.  I already had an idea of where they got stuck.

I wanted to have the owner of this contracting company, pull his stuck work truck out from behind, because this looked like the best way.  The contracting company owner wanted to try to pull his stuck truck out from the front, so that is how I hooked the tow strap up.

The contracting company owner driving his one-ton four-wheel-drive dual rear wheel diesel Dodge truck could not pull this other one-ton four-wheel-drive truck out from the front.  I said let’s try it from the back, and if this doesn’t work, I will get the site owners to pull this truck out with their front end loader.

Luckily, this truck came out of the mud, when it was pulled from the back, but it just barely came out.  I did not want to try to get the site owners to start up their loader and bring it down, because they look at this as someone being an idiot and messing up.

In general, I was told by my employer, to always stay away from the site owners, this is how my predecessor lost his job.  However, the site owners had pulled one of my co-workers out with their front end loader last year.

When I got back to my work area after helping the independent outside contractor to get their work truck unstuck at about 3:30 p.m., I realized that the site owners were all gone, there was no one else around, there was only me.  If the independent contractor had not been able to pull their truck out using their own one-ton four-wheel-drive dually Dodge diesel truck, the only thing that would have gotten that truck out, was the front end loader.

I probably would have gotten on the loader, carefully driven it down there, pulled the truck out easily, and taken the loader back to where it was parked.  I would not have thought too much about it, I suppose, because there was nothing else to do about the situation, in my opinion.

I have worked as a laborer, foreman, superintendent, project manager, inspector, engineer, and contractor.  In my work experience, you do what you can when another contractor is in a bind, because you would hope and expect another contractor to do the same thing for you.  Also, in my work experience, it is expected by the site owner, that there is to be cooperation among contractors, you do not withhold help when it is needed.

In my work experience, I have operated a loader, backhoe, dozer, excavator, crane, lull, bucket truck, trencher, plow, and directional drill rig, without ever having an accident or damaging anything.  Would I have gotten fired for using the site owner’s front end loader to pull another contractor’s truck out?

The following day, I asked my co-worker who has been working at this site for four years, and he said, yes, the site owner would have demanded that the company that I work for, fire me immediately for using their front end loader.

I had very little to do with the work that this independent outside contractor was performing, I just happened to be the only other personnel on site when they got stuck.  It did not benefit me to help this contractor, it only benefited the site owners to help get this other work completed.

I felt bad that I came close to losing my job, by helping someone else which did not benefit me in any way.  But I would have lost my job, and this type of thing is very typical in North Dakota, completely different from anywhere else that I have worked.

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