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A Different Side of Dickinson, North Dakota

Throughout this blog, I have mostly been negative about Dickinson:  property owners and managers had been excessively greedy and had taken advantage of everyone from out-of-state, local people and co-workers had been hostile and unfriendly, there is shortage of attractive women, the Dickinson police’s over aggressive pursuit of DUIs cause people to be unable to go out and enjoy drinks at bars and restaurants.  Living in Dickinson, I felt like an illegal immigrant migrant worker, because I was treated like one.  Even though I had a bachelor of science in engineering, and had worked as an engineer, estimator, superintendent, and project manager in several different states, owned a home and business in another state, I was treated like shit by the local ignorant, uneducated, never-been-anywhere people here in Dickinson, because I was from some place else, and they could get away with it, and their natural primitive instinct is to treat people badly.  I explained these things already in this blog.

I currently still recommend that people do not come to Dickinson, North Dakota, at this time.  I came here to make money, and it was easier to make money here, than it was in the state where my home was.  But now, about 60% of the oil field jobs have gone away due to the low price of oil, which has caused other jobs to go away throughout the western North Dakota economy.  I recommend that you do not come to Dickinson at this time not because the people are hostile and unfriendly, but because you would probably have a difficult time getting a job, and housing prices are still very high.

Because of a reduction of in work at my job, and because I did not want to be solely dependent on my employer for income, I brought some of my equipment over to Dickinson, to begin doing some self-employment work.  At first, the Dickinson residents that I offered to do work for, they were negative.  After about one month, I got one project.  I did a good job, three people saw that project, and I got three more projects.  Without doing any advertising, I got about ten more projects, and continue to get phone calls every week.

In my self-employment work, I saw a different side of Dickinson.  All of the people who called me and asked me to come and give them an estimate, they were successful people.  About one-third of these customers were business owners, about one-third were white-collar professionals, and about one-third were blue-collar workers, but they were all successful.  They were intelligent, polite, professional, fair, and often times paid me more than what I charged.

I tried to keep quiet and quickly do my self-employment work, but about one-third of my customers at some point would ask me what I thought of Dickinson and the people here.  I would try to not say anything negative and say very little, but the customers would come out and say to me, “I moved here twenty years ago, the people here have never been friendly to me and my husband, it has been difficult, I don’t have hardly any friends, I had so many friends back where we came from.”  So even though I tried to say very little in order to keep my opinions to myself to be non offensive to customers and potential customers, many of my customers just came out and said that they had had a difficult time in Dickinson because the people were unfriendly.  This was the first time that I heard people that were successful, long time residents, come out and say it.  It made me feel a lot better.  Also, this was the first time after having lived in Dickinson for almost three years, that I wasn’t treated like shit.  In all of the self-employment projects that I have done in Dickinson so far, about fifteen of them, the customers have been very nice to me, they acted like they were happy to see me, happy that I was there, complimented me on my work, thanked me, and most them paid me more than I asked for.  This was a side of Dickinson that I had never seen.

Comments on Dickinson, North Dakota, October 2015

Hello everyone.  Thank you for reading my blog.  I have not added any posts to this blog in August or September because I was busy.  In June I went back to the state where my home is, to pick up a trailer full of equipment, so that I could come back to Dickinson and do some self-employment work, because my job in Dickinson was so slow.  I got some self-employment work in August, then my regular job was busy in September.  I have been lucky.

I look at the North Dakota Job Service website every week, and there are only about five oil-field/construction jobs posted each week for Dickinson.  There are some nursing and physician jobs posted, but there always are, because many healthcare professionals don’t want to live in Dickinson because housing is so expensive.  In October of 2014, there were about twelve  oil-field/construction jobs posted each week, this was just before the price of oil went down.

My estimate is, that about forty percent of the out-of-state workers have left Dickinson in the past eight months.  Traffic is much lighter, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations are much less busy.  I made a nasty comment in one of my last posts, saying that only the idiots were still coming to Dickinson, the people that don’t read or watch TV news.  I get the impression that even the idiots have quit coming to Dickinson now.

Supposedly, all of the companies have let go of their idiots and near-do-wells, and have retained the best employees.  This appears to be the case, there are not that many white-trash in Dickinson compared to last year.  People are friendlier in Dickinson now.  The ratio of men to women is still  probably 3:1.

Real estate people/property managers are trying their best to keep property/rent prices high.  I believe that property/rent prices will drop 20% in the next twelve months.

I advise people to not come to Dickinson at this time.

Culture Shock In Dickinson, North Dakota

I am originally from a small town in a southern state.  One of the elements of culture where I am from is hospitality.  I believe that two reasons why hospitality was important and apparent in the south, was due to the protestant religions such as Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian, and due to readily available resources.  I will try to explain this.

The protestant religions teach foremost the belief in Jesus, God, and doing what Jesus and God have instructed.  Jesus taught about giving and kindness to others.  As a brief example, Jesus was with his apostles and they witnessed church goers as they made offerings,  one man gave a substantial amount, one woman gave only a penny or two.  Jesus asked the apostles who gave the most, they answered that a particular man had given a substantial amount.  Jesus said, no, the woman who gave the few pennies gave the most, because she gave all that she had.  As another example, Jesus was invited to the home of a wealthy man, and upon everyone being seated, the household was embarrassed when a harlot showed up, and began to wash Jesus’ feet, and I believe I remember she dried his feet with her hair.  The house guests thought that this woman was trash and that Jesus should not have had anything to do with her, however Jesus pointed out that no one else had offered him the courtesy of washing his feet when he had entered this home, the woman was showing him reverence and kindness.  So, in the South, where they believe in the Bible, they try to incorporate what the Bible says into their day to day lives.  I will give an example.

I had a friend named Joseph who was from Georgia.  Joseph was 35 years old, he had a wife and a daughter.  He was a self employed tree trimmer, and he was poor.  In the winter of 2009 when the economy started to go bad, he had to go to the food bank, because he did not have enough money to buy food.  In the spring and summer, he got by O.K., but just barely.  I stopped by his house at about 5 p.m. one evening when he had just gotten home from doing a tree job, he had stopped at Dominoes Pizza and bought a large pizza.  He asked me if I would like some pizza,  I said no, thank you, I had already eaten, but the real reason was that I knew that that pizza was just enough for him, his wife, and daughter.  Just then, two young Mormon missionaries stopped at his house, Joseph and I both knew them, and talked to them from time to time.  Joseph said, “Hey you guys are just in time for some pizza, would you like some pizza?”  They said, “Oh yeah, great, thanks.” and they ate half his pizza.  There was just enough left for his wife and daughter after the missionaries left.  The rented house that Joseph lived in was very small and bare.  I had already passed through the kitchen and saw that there was not any food in the house, just maybe an almost empty bag of old bread, maybe a can of beans.  I said to Joseph, “Well, it looks like they ate all your pizza.”  Joseph said, “Oh, it don’t matter, I’ll find something else to eat.”

The second reason why people in the South have hospitality, is that they have been accustomed to having resources available.  In the South, trees are plentiful, so it is not difficult to get wood for furniture, firewood, or housing.  Domestic animals like chickens, cattle, pigs, and goats are not difficult to keep.  Wild animals like rabbits, possums, squirrels, turkeys, alligators, and fish are not that difficult to come by.  So, it was not that difficult to survive, you could afford to be hospitable, even if you were poor, it was not like you were going to die.

In North Dakota, things were different.  I have been to North Dakota pioneer museums, and have read and seen the exhibits.  I have talked to older North Dakotans about how things were growing up around Dickinson.  The pioneers that came to North Dakota in the late 1800s and early 1900s lived in small grass sod houses, the walls were constructed entirely of grass sod.  The houses were small partly because there was not a lot of things to burn to heat them, dried animal dung was collected to burn for heating and cooking.  I have been inside some of these houses on old farms outside of Dickinson, they were very small, very primitive, maybe a 10’x12′ room adjoined to another 10’x12′ room, and whole families lived in them.  I have talked to people who said that even growing up in Dickinson in the 1950s, that many people still had out houses.  It was common for the mom to keep the roll of toilet paper, that children were not given toilet paper, if you wanted toilet paper, you had to go and ask, and that you might be given three sheets.  Apparently life was brutally hard in North Dakota until recently, there had been a scarcity of basic necessities.  If you talk to people about it, you will begin to understand that hospitality was something that was not done, it was so hard for a family to survive, there wasn’t hospitality.

In the eight months that I lived in Dickinson in 2011, and the sixteen months that I have been living in Dickinson currently, it was not until I understood how hard life had been in North Dakota, that I realized this is one of the reasons why the residents in North Dakota are not hospitable and friendly, and why they don’t even know that they are not hospitable and friendly.