Tag Archives: Moving to Dickinson, North Dakota

Housing, Employment, Cost of Living

Dickinson, North Dakota Could Have Had Permanent Growth If….

In this blog post, I am going to try to explain one of the mistakes that has been made in Dickinson that has prevented permanent growth.  No, I am not going to write about local people in Dickinson being unfriendly, uncooperative, not helpful, and hostile for the 100th time, I am going to write about something that I have not covered yet.

I will illustrate what I am trying to explain using a real life example of a woman named “Trudy” who moved to Dickinson with her husband approximately two years ago.  Trudy and her husband are in their late forties, and they moved to Dickinson because of her husband’s job.  They had moved to different towns more than several times during their marriage because of her husband’s job.

Initially, when they moved to Dickinson two years ago, they rented an apartment.  They wanted to look for and try to find the right house for them.  With the sale of their previous home and their financial situation, they could have afforded to buy the most expensive home listed for sale in Dickinson if they wanted to.  But they were really only looking for a nice looking, comfortable, modest home that was the right size for them.

Trudy and her husband did not like paying the very high apartment rent that was the result of the oil boom that began in 2007 in western North Dakota.  The rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Dickinson was typically $2,000 to $3,000 per month.  Most people recognized that if you are going to pay $24,000 to $36,000 per year in rent, you would be much better off financially by using that amount of money to purchase a home.

Trudy liked Dickinson, and she liked the people in Dickinson.  She was looking forward to buying a house and making a home here with her husband.  She was looking forward to getting out of their apartment, this was only supposed to be a temporary arrangement.

Trudy looked, and looked for a house in Dickinson.  She looked at every on-line listing, she looked at all the printed real estate guides, she went to real estate offices, she drove around Dickinson looking at homes “For Sale By Owner” and to look for any house for sale that she wasn’t already aware of.

Trudy looked for a house in Dickinson for 1-1/2 years.  Though from time to time she found a house that would have been O.K. for her and her husband, everything was overpriced.  It was as if the home owners and the real estate agents did not think that anyone else was aware that the oil boom was over, and that the oil field was not going to pick up any time soon, and possibly not for a long time.  It also appeared that the home owners and the real estate agents believed that there were people “with a lot of money”, that would just go ahead and buy a house for $250,000 to $450,000 without even thinking about it.

Most people that are capable of purchasing a home for $250,000 to $450,000 are financially shrewd people, who are not in the habit of losing money.  These people don’t willingly over-pay for anything.  But in Dickinson, there seemed to be this wide-spread belief that there were vast numbers of home buyers that didn’t know how much homes were worth, and that the thought never entered their mind, “What could I expect to re-sell this home for in the future?”

Dickinson began to lose its charm for Trudy and her husband.  The people didn’t turn out to be that friendly or very helpful after all.  They could not find a reasonably priced home, and living in their apartment was unpleasant.  There was not a lot to do in Dickinson.  Eventually, both Trudy and her husband agreed that they would be happier and better off if they just moved to a different state.

I used this story up above to illustrate that both the excessive gouging on housing during the oil boom, and the current and continuing over-pricing on houses, has made about 90% of the people who came to Dickinson in the past ten years make up their minds that they would never stay in Dickinson.  I am not saying that 10% of the people decided to stay, I am saying that 90% of the people made up their minds that they would never stay.

Of the 10% of the people who came to Dickinson in the past ten years who didn’t make up their minds that they would never stay, many or most of this 10% had to leave anyway because they lost their job, or they could not find a reasonably priced house.  Trudy and her husband would be in this 10%.

In other words, Dickinson drives almost everyone who comes here away.  The population of Dickinson is going to continue to decrease every year, for years to come.

Businesses Closing In Dickinson, North Dakota

I want for everyone, local people, people from out of state, and people who are considering moving to Dickinson, North Dakota, to know what is going on here.  The oil boom is over in North Dakota, it was over by the end of 2014.  Since then, everything has become less busy with each passing month in Dickinson, North Dakota.

During the morning work rush hours in Dickinson, 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., traffic is not heavy.  From 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., traffic is very light.  After 8:00 p.m. in Dickinson, the streets are almost empty.  After 8:00 p.m., there are only three to six people in each of the downtown bars on a week night.  After 8:00 p.m., it is the same thing in each of the grocery stores, only about three to six customers.

Outside of town in the industrial areas, there are many commercial buildings and warehouses that have become vacant.  In town, there are many commercial and retail spaces that have become vacant.

The Sears store has sold most of its inventory, there is hardly anything left in the store, and they are permanently closing in just a few days.  The Family Fare grocery store on highway 22 is closing in just a few days, much of their inventory is already gone.

In downtown Dickinson, there are two family owned businesses that were very rude to me, and several other people that I have spoken to.  I spent about $500 at one business, and about $1,000 at the other business, yet the owners were shitty with me when I came to their stores to buy more equipment.  I enjoy driving by their stores now at various times throughout the day, and I see that they have zero customers.

I am not going to list every tenant from every retail, commercial, and industrial building in Dickinson that has left, because it would take too long and it would be difficult to include every one.  In general, in buildings where there are five or more tenants, it has gone from one vacancy, to two, then three, and so on as the months have passed in Dickinson.  What I want for people to understand, is that more and more business will continue to close in Dickinson.

I have had a couple of discussions recently with two men who are my age, late forties, who have lived and worked all over the United States, who came to Dickinson right when the oil boom began in 2007.  They lived and worked through the housing shortage, and the worker shortage in Dickinson.  One of these men is an electrician who has had his hours reduced more and more, as other workers are let go.  One of these men is a roustabout foreman who has had his wage rate reduced by $7 per hour, as other workers are let go.  Both of these men admit to there being a scarcity of jobs right now, and every indication that things will get much worse in employment.

All three of us, do not like it when uninformed people in the area say things like, “Things are starting to pick up again.”, “The drill rig count is up.”, “Its starting to turn around now.”, and “People are going back to work now.”  These statements are absolutely not true, although the drill rig count may go up from time to time.  It is not helping anyone to give them false information, it is actually harming many people.

There are many people who have reduced work, have lost their jobs, or have been unable to get a job, who should do everything they can to plan on leaving North Dakota.  They need to look into what things are like in Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, what kind of job can they get there, where can they live, and how are they going to get there.

It is about to get cold again in North Dakota, and there will be a winter work slow down.  It is wrong, and it is harmful to mislead people who have lost their job or who have not been able to get a job, into believing that if they wait here, the oil field is getting ready to pick up again, it’s not.

It would actually be better for everyone in Dickinson to know and to say, “The oil field is not going to pick up any time soon.  More people will probably lose their jobs.  It’s time for people to start thinking about where else they could live, and where else they might go to earn a living.  It is not going to be good to encourage people to stay in Dickinson, there will end up being many unemployed people in Dickinson if some of these people don’t try to go someplace else.”

Drug Addiction And Homeless Women In Dickinson, North Dakota

In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote about meeting a drug addicted, homeless girl in Dickinson, North Dakota.  I offered to give her a ride to go get something to eat, and she accepted.  On the way to Wendy’s I asked her if she wanted me to take her to a women’s shelter.  She didn’t want to go to a women’s shelter.  I believed that it was a combination of outstanding warrants, and still wanting to use drugs, that made her not want to go to the women’s shelter.

This young lady was very pretty.  She wasn’t able to stay mentally focused, or keep her mind and thoughts on track.  I believed that she was possibly currently high, and that drugs probably were to blame for her mental disorientation.  After she was done eating, I dropped her off right back where I picked her up, just across the street from the low rent apartment building where I live.  She was going to go back to her hiding spot somewhere outdooors to spend the night, so I gave her my black hooded sweatshirt and $10.

The following day, which is today, I had to go do some self-employed construction work that I had scheduled for Tuesday morning.  The work went more quickly than I expected, for once.  I was almost half way through with my work by 11:00 a.m. when it began to rain too hard for me to continue.  I packed up my equipment and I went back to my apartment.

Last night, this morning when I was getting ready for work, when I was driving to work, and when I was working, I was thinking about that homeless girl.  I was glad that it started raining, that I could go home, and that I could look up and call the womens’ shelters.  I looked through my guide to Dickinson, North Dakota booklet, and I could only find the domestic abuse shelter listing.

I called the domestic abuse shelter, and they did in fact admit homeless women.  I explained that the homeless girl that I met did not want me to take her to the women’s shelter partly because of outstanding warrants, and her current drug addiction.  The women’s shelter said that they don’t turn women in to law enforcement, but they would have to asses any woman who came to the shelter to see what kind of help she needed.

I went looking for the homeless girl that I met, and I thought that it would be miraculous if I found her.  After about twenty minutes of driving around my neighborhood, I couldn’t find her.  I thought that she was probably in someone’s apartment or house getting high.  I gave up looking for the time being, maybe I would see her walking around in the evening.

I was hungry and I had been thinking about getting a club sandwich at the Paragon diner, so that is where I headed.  As I was driving west on Villard, I saw some person sitting down on the curb behind a bank building.  I made a right turn into the parking lot and it was her.  I said that I was going to the Paragon to eat, did she want to come, and she did.

She was tired, tired looking, and probably not high at the moment.  She said that she slept outside last night, and that it had been cold.  I told her about the women’s shelter, and they said that they wouldn’t turn her over to the police or anything.  She said that she had been given the women’s shelter address a couple of hours ago.

After we were done eating, she didn’t want to go to the women’s shelter, she wanted to go to her probation officer, then she didn’t want to go her probation officer.  There was quite a delay and drive around, because she kept changing her mind.  She was scared to go to both her probation officer, and the women’s shelter.

Finally, near the women’s shelter, I had to call them because the directions she had been given were unclear, or she was trying to not find it.  When I drove up outside, she wouldn’t go in.  I was trying to coax her and negotiate with her to just meet these people, but she wouldn’t go in.  I was trying to reason with her that she didn’t want to sleep outside again in the cold and the rain, but she wouldn’t go in.  Finally, I said to her that now that she knows where it is, she can go there if she needed to.  Then I dropped her off at her probation officer downtown.

I called the women who I had now spoken to twice at the women’s shelter, and I explained that she was too scared to go in.  They said they knew, they saw us parked outside.  I said that maybe she will come back tonight when she gets cold.  I gave what information I had about her, so that they would know who she was, and let her in.

What I didn’t write about yesterday in much detail was who this person was.  I am not going to blab too much about the details of her life, but I did ask questions to try to get a picture of who she was, to get many pieces of a puzzle.  What I learned about her yesterday, and what I learned about her today, I tried to make sense of it, to put it all together.

Like most attractive women, she was being a little difficult.  On the way to go get something to eat when she was hungry and hadn’t eaten anything, she was better behaved.  After she was done eating, she acted like a typical attractive woman.  She would say, “What? What’s up?  Why are you smiling?”  I would answer, “I like you, you’re pretty.”  She would say, “There are all kinds of pretty women, thousands of them.  You are going to have to find some other reason to like me, that’s not a good reason.  I have all kinds of other reasons for people to like me.  You guys are all the same, I’m pretty.”

I said, “O.K., I admire you because you told me that you won the state championship in high school tennis.  I practiced tennis every day for years in Florida, and I never made it very far in even the district preliminary tournaments.  I am envious of you, I am jealous of you, that is something to be proud of , I would be proud of that, I would brag about that.”

Anyway, knowing her first name, and that she won the high school tennis championship in the state where she came from, I was able to look her up on the internet, and I saw her picture in the newspaper, it was her.  This was quite an accomplishment.  She must have been super athletic and super coordinated.

She had a mom, dad, sister, family, childhood, played sports, and she was good in sports.  I think that she might have said once to me very quickly that she played sports in college.  This is really a terrible thing that the course of life events has taken this beautiful young lady away from her family, friends, people who care about her, to where she is broke, unemployable, drug addicted, and homeless in Dickinson, North Dakota.

Picking Up A Drug Addict Homeless Girl In Dickinson, North Dakota

In a very recent previous blog post I wrote about how I recently moved into a low rent apartment in Dickinson, North Dakota.  Among the things that I described, I wrote about the drug activity in the apartment building where I live.  I didn’t describe everything, I left some things out.

About one week ago, very early on a Sunday morning, I saw a red haired young lady between about 16 years old to 24 years old walking down the sidewalk in the neighborhood where I now live, carrying one piece of luggage.  It looked to me like she had just been kicked out of wherever she had been living.  I was riding my bicycle, and I wanted to ask her “What’s going on?”, but I saw that there were two police cars parked where she had just come from.  I could guess what was going on, she had probably just been forcibly removed from where she had been living.

I really don’t need to become involved with a mentally ill, drug addicted young lady, who someone else could not handle.  I don’t need to be stabbed in my sleep, have my wallet stolen, and my vehicle stolen.  This is about the second or third time recently that I have seen young women get kicked out onto the street in my neighborhood, with nothing except a small piece of luggage.

This evening, as I was working on something out at my vehicle, I noticed a person with a backpack walking down the street.  When they were on the sidewalk across the street from me, they asked me if I was from Idaho, what part of Idaho, and if I was going back to Idaho.  The person was kind of hard to understand.  It was a fairly young person, and a female.  This person was kind of mixed up, and I could tell that things were not right with this person.

I was getting ready to go to the grocery store, but I decided to ask this person if they wanted a ride.  I asked the person, and they said O.K.  This person got in my vehicle.  She was anywhere from 17 to 28 years old, I couldn’t really tell.  She was about 5′-9″, and 100 lbs.  I could tell from the smell of this person, that she was homeless.  It was not the smell of body odor, but the smell of garbage.

I told her that I was just going to go to McDonalds or Wendy’s, did she want anything.  She said that she didn’t have any money.  She was trying to be polite and apologetic.  I said that that was O.K.  As I was driving north and chatting with her, I asked her if she was homeless and she said that she was.  I explained to her that there were several women’s shelters in Dickinson, that after she ate, I could telephone a shelter if she wanted me to.  She asked me what the shelters were like, and I told her that I thought they were pretty nice.

She was very, very pretty, even though I was guessing that she hadn’t bathed or changed clothes in a week.  That is saying something about having natural beauty, sleeping in a dumpster and still being very good looking.  It had been raining pretty hard the last couple of days, and I think that she smelled like garbage because she had been sleeping in a dumpster.

Mentally, she was very messed up.  I didn’t know if she was currently high, if drugs had ruined her mind, or if she had always been mentally messed up from birth.  I started to believe that most of her mental problems were drug related because she seemed to be street smart and have street survival instincts.  I began to think that she was at least 20 years old, but probably not older than 26.

She did not want to be taken to a women’s shelter.  I think this was because she had outstanding warrants, and she wanted to continue to use drugs.  I offered to take her to a young lady that I know who went through everything she was going through, homelessness and drug addiction, who completed rehab and was O.K. now, but she didn’t want me to take her there either.

We went through the drive thru at Wendys and we each got something to eat.  I talked to her some more and offered her a couple more suggestions.  She just wanted to continue to sleep in the bushes she said.

I dropped her off right back where we started from, and I gave her $10 and my black hooded sweatshirt.  Two drug user/drug dealer guys who recently got kicked out of their apartment in the building where I live were parked right behind me.  This homeless young lady got out of my vehicle, and she started trying to talk to them, I figured that she would, I suppose to try to get drugs.  They didn’t want to have anything to do with her, at the moment.

I don’t think that this young lady will ever be O.K.  Any involvement that I have with her will or could lead to me getting charged with possession of drugs/drug paraphernalia from her being in my vehicle, or theft of my wallet, money, credit cards, checks, laptops, firearms, equipment, vehicles, or me getting stabbed, or me getting HIV, hepatitis, or some other disease.  However, you must remember, there is a shortage of women in Dickinson, and a scarcity of attractive women.

Decoding Stupid Phrases And Other Bullshit

The older I got, the more places that I lived, and the more of life that I experienced, the more that I saw through Stupid Phrases And Other Bullshit.  I will share some of these:

  • Fast Paced Environment –  You mostly see this in job advertisements, and during in-person meetings with employers.  What this means is that they are disorganized, chaotic, messed up, and have incompetent people.

Work environments that are truly “fast paced”, like McDonalds at lunch time, don’t waste their time trying to tell each prospective employee that they are “fast paced”.  In time, each new employee learns their specific job, and later a few other jobs, and every employee just does their job, and the end result is that McDonalds is usually is pretty quick.

Other types of companies, like office workers in construction companies, that have to mention that they are “fast paced”, there is something wrong going on.  There should not be non-stop complaints and problems with customers, suppliers, sub-contractors, field supervisors, foremen, and workers.  If there is constant bombardment with problems and angry people, there is one or more persons that are not properly doing their job.

  • Multi-tasking – Probably my least favorite expression, you often see this in job advertisements, and hear this during in-person meetings with employers.  What this means is that they are disorganized, chaotic, messed up, and have incompetent people.

If someone asked me, “How are you at multi-tasking?”  I would say, “I don’t.  I pay attention to what I am doing, when I am doing it.  And I try to do things right the first time.”

An employer hearing this response might think about this, “Paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it, and trying to do things right the first time?”  An employer might say, “I wish we had more people like you.”  Or  an employer might not like it.  If an employer did not like it, and thinks that constant bombardment with complaints and problems is normal, you don’t want to work there.

Competent, intelligent people, who are knowledgeable in their job are able to think ahead, foresee problems, head problems off, make contingencies, properly delegate work, and give others the ability to solve their own problems.  You should not set things up to where you have to “micro-manage” or act as a human funnel.

  • We Have Integrity – If an employer is trying to tell you that “they have integrity”, they probably don’t.  Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, and Jesus didn’t go around trying to tell people that they had integrity.

If an employer is trying to tell you that they have integrity, go look them up personally on NDcourts.gov, Google, or call the Department of Labor to ask if there are any complaints against them.

  • Starter Home – Probably my second least favorite expression, used by real estate agents in written property listings, and during in-person meetings with real estate agents.  What this means is, the real estate agent who wrote this or said this personally believes that this is not a very nice house.

If a house is small, unattractive, or in a not very nice neighborhood, a real estate agent might have called it a “starter home”.  The real estate agent really should have not used this expression.  This home may have been suitable and desirable for an individual or family who will always have a low income, or might have faced a financial setback, financial catastrophe, medical problem, or disability.  Calling a house a “starter home” is just about outright saying that no one would willingly want to live in this house for very long.

  • Gourmet Kitchen – Ridiculous expression used by real estate agents in written property listings, and during in-person meetings with real estate agents.

If you can’t cook, your kitchen will not be a gourmet kitchen, no matter what type of refrigerator, oven, sink, and counter tops you have.  Likewise, if you are a good cook, you may be a gourmet cook even if you don’t have a very nice refrigerator, oven, sink, and counter tops.

I think that if this is the route the real estate agents are going to take, they might as well use the term “gourmet closet” or “gourmet bathroom”, imagining that a gourmet cook might use this closet and this bathroom.

  • Bed And Breakfast Anyone? – Ridiculous expression used by real estate agents in written property listings.

This makes me want to be a real estate agent, just so that I could write stupid shit in the property listings.  O.K., this expression originates from the the real estate agent’s personal belief that this particular home is charming and quaint enough that it would be suitable for use as a Bed and Breakfast Lodge.  Or, that making this statement will make a prospective buyer look at living in this home as being like living in a Bed and Breakfast Lodge.  Or, the real estate agent is losing their mind, which is sometimes the case.

I know that I have thought of this at least several times before, what I would write if I were making the property listings for houses.  I thought of some good ones, that I can’t remember now.  I will either come back to this post and add them, or write a new blog post with them.

Living In A Low Rent Apartment In Dickinson, North Dakota

This winter in Dickinson was kind of unpleasant for me.  My work was not busy in Dickinson, and I was not making very much money.  I would have liked to have tried to make the best of it, to read, write blog posts, watch movies, go to the West River Community Center, and socialize with people.

The person who owned the house where I had been living for the past three years in Dickinson was having his own problems.  No job, shortage of money, poor physical health, no friends, depression, and mental problems.  With no job, he would get up late, not get dressed, and sit in the living room all day.  With not very much money, no friends, and no place to go, he would start drinking in the afternoon, which made his physical and mental health even worse.

In the past I had been a caregiver for disabled and terminally ill adults for two years.  My current living situation was much more unpleasant and far more depressing than the two years that I spent doing this for a living, because now I couldn’t go home and get away from it and have some peace and quiet.  Nor could I invite anyone over to the house.

When I got hired to work at a second job in June, I told my room mate that I had to be at work at 4:00 a.m. in the morning.  My room mate stayed out in the living all night ranting and talking to himself, like a crazy person, making it hard for me to get any sleep.  When I was getting ready for work at about 3:00 a.m., he was still ranting and talking to himself, muttering comments that were directed at me.

With the two jobs that I now had, I could demonstrate to a landlord or property manager that I had enough income to rent an apartment.  I wanted the least expensive apartment that I could get.  I did not know if I would stay in Dickinson, and I did not know how my new job was going to work out, so I did not want to get on a lease for an expensive apartment.

The property manager that I met did me a favor, and they rented to me a very nice two-bedroom apartment in an older building for not very much money.  When I had been living at the house north of Dickinson, I had had two extra trucks, and two equipment trailers, which was what had been preventing me from renting an apartment.  Things got so bad at the house, that I finally accepted that I was going to have to rent a separate location to keep my extra trucks and trailers, and move into an apartment.

I hadn’t lived in an apartment for fifteen years.  I had sworn that I would never ever live in an apartment again.  But here I was, not only was I back in an apartment, I was in a low rent apartment.  The common hallways had a very strong odor of ethnic cooking, from India Indians, Africans, Hispanics, and Asians.  The odor was not present in the apartment, thank God.

The residents who were immigrants from Africa were fairly friendly and polite.  The India Indians and the Asians I hardly ever see.  The Hispanics are somewhat noisy in the parking lot, and on the way to and from their apartments.

The American blacks have the irritating and annoying habit of playing ghetto music too loud in their vehicles when they are coming, going, and parked in the parking lot.  The white trash are aggravating in that they honk their car horns in the parking lot at any time of the day or night, and screech their tires when they come and leave.

There is a lot of drug activity.  There are about three apartments where they are dealing drugs.  You can smell marijuana smoke all day throughout the building.  There are all different kinds of poor people that are coming and going throughout the day, who are not residents of the building.  Some apartments typically have five guests every night.  Some guests are in a stoned stupor.  Some guests go crazy and start yelling.

The police have been to this building at least twice this week.  The young lady that the police took away today, I have been hearing her yelling for the past several days.  When the police came to get her, she began beating her head against the wall, and then beating her head against the police car in attempt to injure herself.  She was yelling at the police that she was going to get them fired.  Inside the back of the police car, she was kicking the partition behind the police officers’ heads as hard as she could trying to break it.

I am surprised that I have not gotten into any trouble yet here where I live.  There is a lot of trouble going around here.  People arguing in the parking lot over parking spaces.  Boyfriend-girlfriend squabbles.  Room mate arguments.  People slamming doors, playing the television too loud, video games too loud, stereos too loud.  People complaining to their neighbors about the noise.  Drug fiends on the premises throughout the night.

I kind of don’t even care.  There is just one thing that I am worried about, and I don’t want to write what it is, because then someone will do it.  I have had plenty of time to think about it, and none of the things that I described above are the property owner’s or the property manager’s fault.  This is just what poor people do and how they behave.  They can’t evict 70% of the tenants.

There are about twenty other apartment buildings just like this one in Dickinson.  In these twenty apartment buildings, I would estimate that only about 10% to 15% of the residents are from Dickinson.  I believe that these poor people mostly come from Idaho, Washington, Michigan, Minneapolis, Rapid City, and Sioux City.

There are very, very few job openings in Dickinson right now.  I believe 100% that I made a very good decision in renting the least expensive apartment that I could find.  I am making very little money right now, and I only have a small chance of getting a well paying job anywhere in North Dakota now.  Even if I began making $5,000 per month or more for quite a while, I would still probably stay in this apartment because of the uncertainty of what is going to happen in North Dakota.

When It Costs $600 To Poop

I have been told, and I have realized myself, that my blog website becomes difficult to read when I have one negative blog post after another, back to back to back.  So I will tell when it costs $600 to poop.

When I became a superintendent for a construction company when I was about 29 years old, we were building communication sites in very remote areas like swamps and forests.  When it rained, even dual rear tire, four wheel drive trucks would get stuck on the way to the job site.  Many of the sites were too remote and hard to get to, to have a portable toilet company bring one out.  All of the workers were red-necks and hunters, so we all went to the bathroom in the woods without complaining.

When I came to work in the oil field in Dickinson in 2011, going to the bathroom in the bushes was not a problem for me.  I had worked in construction for many years, and I knew that you can’t take a crew truck with all of its tools and safety equipment away from a job site to drive 1/2 hour to a bathroom, and 1/2 hour back.  What if somebody needs a tool?  What if somebody gets hurt and it is a medical emergency and they need to be taken to the hospital?

I was having a discussion with my co-worker/supervisor about one month ago, and he said, “Now that is something that I didn’t know until I got to North Dakota.  I didn’t know, and I got into a lot of trouble for it.”  This is the story that he told:

It was my very first day of work, I mean my very first day on the job, literally.  I was driving this vacuum truck, and I had this kid with me.  We had to drive like one hour from New Town to get to this location that we were supposed to be at.  Not long after we arrived at this location, the kid said, “I need to use the bathroom, do you know where there is a bathroom?”  I said that I didn’t know, but that I kind of needed to use the bathroom too.

We got back in the truck, and we started driving, looking for a bathroom.  We ended up driving almost all the way back to New Town, we drove for like 45 minutes.  When we got back to the site, there was this supervisor yelling, screaming, and hollering at us.  He was yelling, “Where the hell were you!  You were supposed to be here two hours ago!”  I explained to him that we both had to use the bathroom.  What!!!!

The owner of the company called me and he said, “Look, that shit you took just cost me $600.  The truck and the two of you were being billed at $400 per hour.  You were gone for 1-1/2 hours to go use the bathroom.  Do not ever do that again.  Go shit behind a tank or something next time.”

I said, I’m not going to go shit behind a tank where some oil company man is going to come along and step in it.  The owner of the company then said, “O.K., the next time you have to use the bathroom, you call me, and I will tell you where the nearest portable toilet is.”

I couldn’t believe that story, and that the owner of the company was having to call his employees and come to an agreement and understanding with them, that you can’t have two workers and a vacuum truck pull off the job for 1-1/2 hours because somebody has to poop.