Tag Archives: living in North Dakota

How Cold Is It In North Dakota?

After having lived and worked in North Dakota since 2011, this Winter of 2017-2018 feels like the coldest to me.

On January 1, 2018 I had to drive past the town of Hettinger, North Dakota on my way to work in the very early morning, my job site was not far from there.  The National Weather Service reported that at this time, Hettinger was the absolute coldest place on Earth, at -41 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yes, the coldest place on Earth, go look it up, here is one link http://cool987fm.com/a-city-in-north-dakota-reached-the-coldest-temperature-on-earth-for-jan-1-2018/

When I got out of my truck that morning, it did not feel that bad, because it was absolutely still.  However, you could tell that it was very cold.

Through December and January, we keep having these -17 degree Fahrenheit days, with some amount of wind, and it is just miserable.  I don’t want to go to any store, I don’t want to go to the gym, I don’t want to go anywhere, for any reason.  I just sit inside my apartment.

One of the reasons that I don’t want to go anywhere, is because of a lifetime of experience.  I have had to work on a broken down vehicle in the snow, ice, and wind more than several times in the past, and I don’t want to ever have to do this again.

I have one extra vehicle at the apartment where I live, and in order not to take up a parking space in front of the building, I park it on the street.  The rule in the City of Dickinson, is that you can’t leave a vehicle parked on the street for more than 48 hours.  So every two days, I have to start and move my extra vehicle.  When it is above 0 degrees, it starts fine.  When it is below 0 degrees, I have to get my battery jump start box, and connect it to the vehicle battery to start it.

Walking out to my vehicle with thermal underwear on under my pants, a hoodie under my heavy winter jacket, and gloves on, wiping the snow off the windows and hood, trying to start it, opening the hood, picking up the battery jump box, making the battery cable connections, and getting back inside my vehicle, my fingers were too numb to feel the ignition key and hold on to it to turn the ignition.

From experience, like the one that I just described above about jump starting my vehicle, I know that this cold weather in North Dakota can be very, very dangerous.  When you are outside in this weather, it does not take long, just a matter of minutes, before you can begin to have severe pain and numbness in your feet and hands.  Even with gloves on, I began to have pain and numbness in my fingers, to where I could not feel or hold onto a car key.

Some North Dakotans would want to call “bullshit” on this.  Let me tell you about this.  A company that I have worked for in the past in North Dakota, called me at the beginning of February to ask if I could work for them 36 hours per week.  I asked on what days, and I said no that I couldn’t, though I would like to.  I said that a friend of mine, who has also worked for them in the past, needed a job, so I would call him, and try to get him to do it.

This friend of mine, who is older than me and has lived in Dickinson for his entire life, had just had a conversation with me where he was telling me, “It never bothered me to work out in the cold.  I mean, you have to dress for it, but it never bothered me any.”

On his first or second day of work at this job that I told him about, where he had to spend 85% of his time in either the vehicle or a building, and only 15% of the time outside, he called me and talked to me for several minutes about how cold it was, how unbelievably cold it was, how horribly cold it was.

I want to conclude this blog post with a strong warning about some things that you need to do in North Dakota during the Winter.  Everyone needs to dress for what the weather is outside, not what you expect it to be like in the vehicle you are riding in, or the building that you are going to.  You may be involved in a vehicle accident or a vehicle break-down before you arrive at your destination, and may not have a warm or running vehicle to stay in.

Women, teenagers, and children in North Dakota have the bad habit of dressing for where they are going, like a warm building, business, or house, and they are very under-dressed for being outside.  It is exactly the case, that they are expecting someone else to drive by and rescue them, or come and get them if they have an emergency.  This is a bad idea.

If you own a vehicle, I recommend buying a good quality hand-carry battery jump box, one that is rated at least for 800 peak amps, to keep in your vehicle.  These cost about $80, and they often have a built-in air compressor and emergency light.  I have jump started other people’s vehicles and trucks about five times with mine, and about twenty times on my own vehicles and lawn mower.

Probably the most important thing to keep in your vehicle in the winter in North Dakota is a heavy sleeping bag.  If your vehicle does break down in the winter in North Dakota, and you think that you might have to walk more than 1/8 mile in below 0 degree Fahrenheit weather, you should probably try to stay in your vehicle.  Even if you were wearing thermal underwear, a heavy winter jacket, winter shoes, and winter gloves, you would become extremely cold after walking 1/8 of a mile.

You May Not Want To Stop In The Small Towns Of North Dakota

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.

North Dakota Could Be A Good Place To Live, If…

North Dakota could be a good place to live.  I have lived in North Dakota for almost four years now.  I have had a lot of bad things to say about North Dakota, but I also know of some good, unique things about North Dakota, that nobody talks about.

I have lived in Florida, Virginia, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Idaho.  In comparison, even to the sparsely populated states of Utah and Idaho, you can really, really be left alone in North Dakota.  Once you get on your own property in North Dakota, you are left alone like no other place I have been.  The place that I live on outside of Dickinson, is not even one acre, yet I have had less interference on this property than I have had on my rural five acres in Idaho.

Even if you are not on your own property, once you are driving around outside of the towns, whether it’s outside of Dickinson, or outside of Watford City, you are mostly on your own.  You are not being surveilled, watched, monitored, scrutinized, or spied on.  In Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Texas, it was hard to get away from people, you can go to remote rural areas, and there is somebody there.  In North Dakota, you can really get away from people.

There is not a lot of crime in North Dakota.  In the cities, like Dickinson, Williston, and Bismarck, there is a small amount of theft due to piece of shit people from out of state bringing in illegal drugs, which result in addicts committing thefts.  In the rural areas, there is very little theft.  The rural areas are sparsely populated, people live on large pieces of property, there just aren’t people creeping around on other people’s property trying to steal someones laptop computer or DVD player.

I very much like that North Dakota is sparsely populated, you can be left alone, you can get away from people.  In your own home, you can be free from interference, noise, theft, and other crime.  Living in North Dakota can be very stress-free because of the reasons that I just mentioned, but also because of the slow pace of life in the rural areas where there is not a lot going on.

Doing some reading yesterday, I read some research that a North Dakota journalist had conducted in order to write an article.  The journalist questioned and surveyed out of state workers that had come to North Dakota during this past Oil Boom.  About 80% of the workers stated that they did not plan on living in North Dakota permanently.  The journalist was surprised to learn that the workers said it was not that there was no shopping, lack of restaurants, lack of entertainment, lack of things to do, or that it was cold, the workers said that they did not know where they could afford to live.

North Dakota probably has the most amount of undeveloped land of any state, much of it barren prairie.  How could it be that the out of state workers did not think that they would ever be able to afford a place to live?  90% of you already know why, and yes, I am going to start talking about the greedy, immoral, property managers, property developers, and property investors again, though just briefly.

Everybody listen up!  Many of the out of state workers that came to work in North Dakota during this last Oil Boom would have stayed, would have brought their families to live here permanently, because of the peace and quiet of the wide open spaces, being able to raise a family without interference on their own land, without having to deal with the stress of traffic, fear of drugs, gangs, and crime.  However, left unchecked, the greedy property managers, property developers, and property investors quickly quadrupled the cost of rent and housing, making all the workers believe that they could never afford to live in North Dakota.

North Dakota would have been tremendously better off, if it would have not allowed the greedy people here to mistreat the workers, and cause them to leave.




Watching Mexican Work Crews In North Dakota

In a recent blog post, I wrote that I was sorry to see Mexican work crews in the oil fields in North Dakota. I didn’t want to see English speaking workers displaced by cheaper Mexican labor. I didn’t want to see the wage rate go down in the oil fields either. After watching three Mexican work crews recently, I changed my mind.

I have worked construction in Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and North Dakota. One of the biggest problems that I had in construction, was the dirt bag construction workers, the White Trash. Most of the construction workers acted like pirates, trying to do everything except doing the work right, and still wanting to get paid. There were some that took pride in their work, these became foremen and superintendents, but I have seen bad foremen too. In general, it seemed like construction workers felt like they were being wronged, and they weren’t going to give you their best work, especially if they thought you wouldn’t know or find out. Also, it seemed like a rush to get the work done in order to go to the bar, get drunk, get some meth, get some crack cocaine.

These three Mexican work crews that I have been watching are very good. The biggest thing is that they all get along with each other and they work together. The second biggest thing is that they shut up and work. There are about nine of them, and they all work together like bees or ants. They all stay busy at tasks, nobody has to get on anybody, they just work steady and focused. As a sign of how well they work, they all have nicer vehicles than me. It appears that they have a lot of money, because they earn a lot of money getting work done.

Not all Mexicans are like this, but I would give these guys all the work I had if I was an oil company. They are a pleasure to be around. I think that I have learned an important lesson from watching them: shut up, complete the work, and stay out of trouble. Hope I can do it.

Living A Life That You Don’t Want In North Dakota

At the apartment where I live in Watford City, I have gotten to know some of my neighbors. In the parking lot, the license plates read: Florida, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming,Texas. I know that these people don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here.

I am in my late 40s now, and in Watford City, I often say to myself, “Where has my life gone?”. I am not senile yet, I know how I got here. It all started with me wanting to try to live a happier and better life. I had graduated from a university with a degree in engineering. I had lived in a large city and worked my way up, earning more and more money.  I had saved up enough money to not have to work for three years, I hated the city, and I wanted to move.

I did not want to live in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Mississippi, because I thought of those states as being “ignorant and backwards”. Every one of those states looks like paradise to me right now. I messed up, I messed up. There was no one telling me and explaining to me that that is my culture, that is where you belong, you won’t fit in or be happy anyplace else. Most of this blog consists of me trying to figure out why the people in North Dakota are so unfriendly, inhospitable, unhelpful, uncooperative, and why the women try to look and act unattractive. Rather than me having to explain it in blog post after blog post, somebody from the South my age would just say, “Well, yeah.”, meaning, you’re not telling us anything we didn’t already know.

When I moved, I moved out West. Some small towns in Colorado were O.K., but there was no place to work. Colorado Springs was too much like the Rat Race that I had left. I lived in some small towns in Arizona, enjoyed them very much, but few places to work. Did not like Phoenix. Lived a few places in Idaho, was ready to settle down, and did. The Mormons in Idaho have a preference for Mormons, and they made it seem to me like I had made a mistake in moving there. I wished that I would have tried living in Montana and Wyoming.

Looking back at my life, it wasn’t a mistake for me to ty to live out West. It seems that I spent too much time in Idaho, when I wonder where the years went, they’re there, wasted amongst the Mormons. The bad economy in Idaho, caused me to go to work in North Dakota. For the past four years, whether in Dickinson, Utah, Texas, or Watford City, it has been small oil field towns where it is hard to find a place to stay or a place to eat. I can’t believe my life has turned out like this.

It is kind of like finding yourself in prison. You do things during the day. You go to eat. You read the newspaper. You watch TV. You read your mail. You exercise. You take a shower. But you’re not going anywhere, you’re not getting out. The people around you are mostly a reminder of your confinement. In Watford City, like prison, you can only dream about the life you once had: Waking up to a warm clear sky, looking out at harbor full of boats, people of different nationalities chattering while walking to the store, red and yellow hibiscus flowers, fig trees, sea grapes, palms, walking to a white sand beach, dogs playing, everyone smiling, everyone happy…. Here in Watford City, the best thing you have is the CENEX Gas Station: Waking up to the sound of trucks idling, the smell of diesel in the air, dirty oil field workers in a hurry to get to a location in order to smash their hand…

Somebody, please go ahead write the comment, “Well if you don’t like it, you can leave!”