I have had to cut ties with friends who are too much trouble, several times in Dickinson, North Dakota. These friends were people who were always having problems, often because they used poor judgment, and they would frequently ask me for help, which began to make my life full of problems too.
I had to cut ties with my oldest and best friend in Dickinson this week, because he was always having problems, and trying to make his problems my problems too, like I owed him help and was obligated to help him. I want to try to explain this.
In the winter of 2013, I was staying in my small trailer on a person’s property north of Dickinson, with electric hookup, but no water and no sewer hook up. For people not familiar with the oil boom in North Dakota, housing was so scarce and expensive during the oil boom, that many people paid hundreds of dollars a month in rent to sleep in a tent in someone’s backyard. Many people slept in their vehicles at Tiger Truck Stop or WalMart, even though they had full-time jobs, because rent was so expensive.
The person whose property I was staying on in my small trailer, he bought a diesel Ford F250 in December of 2013, and he began plugging its engine block heater power cord into the same electric power outlet that my small trailer was plugged into. In the middle of the night when it got down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit, the electric panel breaker would trip, leaving me without power and without heat.
Across the open field that I was living on, was a residential neighborhood where I had met one of the homeowners while working for a contractor in Dickinson. I asked this homeowner if I could park my small trailer in his yard, plug into his electric, and pay him rent. This homeowner explained to me that he was on an equalized payment electric utility plan, and that this would disrupt his payment plan. So I asked him if he had a spare bedroom to rent.
This homeowner who was in his late fifties, he was overweight and in bad health. His yard and his house were full of clutter. He currently did not have employment, he sold items on E-Bay to make money, and his house and each room were full of inventory. We cleared out one of the two spare bedrooms for me to stay in, and I agreed to pay him $450 per month in rent.
This homeowner, I will call him “Danny”, though that is not his real name. In “Danny”, I had found someone who was struggling financially, was in bad health, had no friends, no one to help him, and no one cared about him. He appeared to be eager to have some additional income, some company, and someone to help him.
In the little over three years that I spent living in Danny’s home, I paid him over $18,000 in rent, about $2,000 in storage fees for equipment parked in his yard, and I paid him about $1,500 for helping me in my self-employed work. This $21,500 was tax-free, unreported income for Danny.
While living with Danny, I found out more about his health problems and his personal problems. He had not been employed anywhere for almost ten years. Even though Dickinson had been going through the biggest oil boom that it had ever had since 2007, Danny had been unemployed during this time.
Beginning in 2014, when I became manager of a small company in Dickinson, I was able to get “Danny” hired to work with me for several months. I had difficulty with Danny trying to get him to complete his employment application to become hired. He was frustrated by the application and unwilling to make the effort to provide the documentation that was requested. While going through this with him, I could see some of the problems that caused Danny to be unemployed for the previous ten years.
Danny did not listen to my instructions on how to get to the job site in Watford City or how long the drive took, and he was late to work his first day. He also forgot his suitcase and he had to drive back to Dickinson after work to go back and get his suitcase.
Initially, Danny became lost in Watford City a couple of times, though Watford City was a small town with a population of about 10,000 people, with about two or three traffic lights in the entire town. Danny became unglued after becoming lost, he became extremely nasty with me and the hotel owner where we were staying, when we tried to give him directions on the telephone.
Within a week or two, Danny proceeded to make a complaint about me as a manager and co-worker, in an attempt to get me fired, in order to possibly get his cousin in Watford City hired in my place, or to try to make himself manager, or just out of spite. Unbeknownst to me, the owner of the hotel in Watford City had made a complaint about Danny’s behavior at the hotel to the owner of the company, and the owner of the company told me, that we were never hiring Danny again after this job was over.
It was difficult and frustrating living in Danny’s home, after I had done him the favor of getting him hired to work with me, he had caused me a lot of trouble at work and he had tried to get me fired. For those of you not familiar with North Dakota, it is very common for North Dakotans to try to get their out-of-state co-workers fired, because they are not from here. I don’t know what Danny was thinking.
After living with Danny for a while, I could see that he did not have any friends, his brothers and sisters did not want to visit him or talk to him, his neighbors did not want to interact with him, and no one wanted to help him.
Because Danny’s personality was sometimes a “know-it-all”, sometimes arrogant, sometimes belligerent, I could see why he did not have any friends, his brothers and sisters did not want to visit or talk to him, his neighbors did not want to interact with him, and he had had difficulty obtaining or keeping employment. The other thing that kept people away, was that Danny was always trying to get people to help him.
I learned from reading court records on the internet, that Danny had declared bankruptcy about twice. He had had surgeries that were paid for by social services and other charitable organizations, but unemployment during these times left him with bills that he was unable to pay, so he declared bankruptcy. He still had outstanding court judgments against him that had not been paid, after his bankruptcies.
I wondered if his neighbors and other people that Danny had had interaction with, had the opinion of Danny, that he was always trying to get something for nothing. It appeared that they had this opinion. Not just because of declaring bankruptcy in the past, or having health problems and wanting help, or recovering from surgery and wanting help, but always trying to get people to help him with something.
In 2016, the small company that I was the manager of in Dickinson, it was not very busy, and I was able to get outside employment in Watford City on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Partly to help Danny, and partly to get someone to work the rest of the week for me in Watford City on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I again got Danny hired to work with me.
Danny caused me some difficulty at first when he started working in Watford City, because he was not doing what we were hired to do. But after I got mad at him and told him that he wasn’t doing what we were being paid to do, he did what he was supposed to. This job in Watford City earned Danny about $48,000 over the next thirteen months.
The $21,500 that I had paid to Danny as unreported tax-free income, the $8,000 that he got paid from working with me in Watford City the first time, the $48,000 that he got paid from working with me in Watford City the second time, was more money than Danny had made in his previous nearly ten years of unemployment. And as a result of having some money now, in some ways Danny became more of an asshole.
Because Danny had money now, because of me paying him rent and getting him hired to work with me, Danny became more of an asshole, more arrogant, more loud-mouthed, and more belligerent. He didn’t really need me as a roommate anymore, and he was obnoxious. I moved out of his house in the Spring of 2017 because Danny was so offensive and belligerent.
For the next year and a half, after I had moved out of Danny’s house, Danny was unemployed, he could not get a job, and he did not have any income. I learned that he was unable to pay his home owners insurance, nor his property tax which he was already in arrears. He was selling his personal belongings to survive.
In the late summer of 2018, I got Danny hired to work with me again, because I knew that he was about to lose his home for non-payment of property taxes. Even though Danny had caused me problems at work before, and Danny had caused me problems when I was living in his home, I still felt like I should help him, because he had helped me back in the Winter of 2013 when I needed a place to stay.
After Danny had worked with me for about four months, he was complaining that he should be paid more money. He was complaining about wanting more money, after he had been caught and photographed sleeping while on the job several times, and he was close to being fired for cause.
After Danny had made about $30,000 working with me, he was buying new windows for his house and he was talking about buying a new truck. After he had made about $40,000, he was talking about re-roofing his house.
In the past several months, I have had to come and give Danny a tow in his broken vehicle from downtown Dickinson back to his home twice. A couple of weeks ago I drove a trailer to go pick up and load by hand 3,500 lb of roofing shingles for Danny’s house.
In this same time period, for some insane reason, Danny told some Mexican guy who I don’t know who recently got arrested, that I would give him a ride two hours one way to go pick up his vehicle. And, Danny told some woman who doesn’t have any money that I would sell her one of my vehicles.
I got onto to Danny for telling these two people that I do not know that I would give them a ride two hours away or sell them one of my vehicles when they do not have any money. I asked him what was he thinking, why was he trying to cause me problems?
For the past several months, Danny has been complaining about having difficulty and no one wanting to help him put in his new windows, replace the roof on his house, fix the furnace in his basement, or perform hip surgery on him. His neighbors, his brothers, tradespeople, the doctors, me, we don’t want to help him because we already have helped in the past, he always wants help, and he always wants something for nothing.
A few days ago Danny was being very belligerent on the phone with me and complaining that no one wants to help him. I told him that I was about ready to refuse to help him anymore, after I had loaded the 3,500 lbs of roofing shingles for him onto his trailer. Danny said, ” Oh, I know, you never want to help me with anything.”
I can’t understand how Danny can be so stupid as to not recognize how many times that I have helped him. I suppose that it is too painful for him to admit or acknowledge that without my help he would have never had employment income and rent income, and he would have lost his house and been living in a public assistance housing project apartment by now.
But this is the way that people are. Because just about everyone that I have become friends with in Dickinson has acted this way, I have had to cut ties with everyone of my friends in Dickinson. I don’t have the energy or resources to allow other people to try to make their problems my problems too.