Tag Archives: working in Dickinson North Dakota

What Living In Dickinson, North Dakota Is Like, Like Being In Prison

In many previous blog posts, I have mentioned that living in Dickinson, North Dakota is like being in prison.  I want to give a recent example.

I have been working at a particular job site outside of Dickinson for a little over one year.  For the first eight months that I was at this job site, there were just a few employees from the company that I work for, and we had our own office trailer.  The employees that had been here before I got here, they had set things up, and they had established the rule that everything was going to be kept clean.

The refrigerator, the microwave, counter tops, floor, and outside portable toilet were all kept clean.  We each cleaned, purchased cleaning supplies, and took out the garbage.  Something that was very important, was that my co-workers had installed some insulation around the outside portable toilet, and inside the portable toilet there was a small electric heater beside the toilet seat.

For several years prior to me arriving at this job site, the few company employees that were here, they had made it through several winters where the temperature got down to -20, -30, -40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once they even got snowed in, where they couldn’t drive home, and they had to stay here in the office trailer, which was O.K., because they set it up for people to be able to stay overnight if they had to.  When it got really, really cold, the electric heater inside of the portable toilet was left running all the time, which kept it at about 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Five months ago, due to increased work activity at this site, my company personnel got moved to a different location on this site.  We no longer had the use of the office trailer.  Due to many personnel changes, I became the only person on this entire site, who had ever been here through the winter, and knew that workers had been snowed in here before.

When it got to be November this year, where the temperature began to drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, I installed an electric heater inside the portable toilet that we were using, at a height of about two feet above the toilet seat, and two feet to the left of the toilet seat.  I brought my own 3500 Watt portable electric generator, which costs about $500 new, to power the electric heater.  I had to buy a poly containment basin to place the generator in per site regulations regarding fuel and oil spills containment.

Within about one week, it was reported to me, that someone tried to urinate into the electric heater inside of the portable toilet.  Someone used the portable toilet, and right after he exited the portable toilet, two of my co-worker saw that he had urinated all over the back wall and bench seat of the portable toilet.  One of my co-workers thought that he had had an accident, where the zipper got stuck on his overalls.  The other co-worker was certain that he had deliberately tried to urinate into the electric heater.  How could you accidentally urinate two feet up on the walls of the portable toilet?

I explained to my co-workers, not to let anyone vandalize this portable toilet and electric heater.  Though it might not seem that important now, it will be when it gets down to -20, -30, -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The next thing to get abused and misused was my 3500 Watt electric generator.  When I wasn’t around, people began putting garbage in the containment basin that the generator was sitting in.  The generator fuel valve was left on, some other things were done to it, and it wouldn’t start.  When I removed the generator oil tank filler cap, a bunch of fuel came out of the oil tank.

I took my generator home and I spent several hours working on it to get it to run again.  I got it to where it would start on the first pull of the starter cord.  I kept it on my truck, not being able to decide if I could leave it there on the job site without someone messing it up again.  Then, I was notified by my co-workers, that someone had ruined my electric heater that I had installed inside of the portable toilet, to where it wouldn’t work at all now.

I thought to myself, what kind of people, deliberately urinate into an electric heater that is two feet above, and two feet to the left of the toilet seat?  This week it has gotten to below zero degrees Fahrenheit at this job site, and it is only going to keep getting colder.  Why would site personnel try to destroy the only heated toilet anywhere on site that they could use?

Meanwhile, there is a small prefabricated building with no electricity to it, that has a small propane heater.  When the small propane heater is set on low or medium, it keeps the small building at about 60 degrees inside, when it is 20 degrees and windy outside.  A particular co-worker, has been found several times to be setting the propane heater to high, and then complaining about how hot it is inside this building.

Two co-workers have explained to this one co-worker, to stop setting the propane heater to high, because he has caused the small three to five gallon propane tank to run out of propane in a day or two, instead of this propane tank lasting four or five days if the heater was set on low.  We began using larger size propane tanks, but this one co-worker is still being found to be setting the propane heater on high, and then complaining about how hot it is inside of this small building that we use.  We are now completely out of propane, having nothing to heat this small building with now, or in an emergency.

My point is, that I can’t believe how these people in North Dakota are deliberately sabotaging the facilities that we use.  This kind of primitive, ignorant, destructive behavior is like something you would find in a prison amongst criminals.  It’s like these people in Dickinson are so fucking stupid, ignorant, and criminal minded, that they destroy and sabotage the things that they need to use, only making their own personal situation even worse.

As frustrated as I am, I realize that probably about 60% of the North Dakotans who read this will think, “Heh, heh, that is what I would do too.  Pee into the electric heater, and run the propane heater out of propane.  Yeah, that is what I would do.”

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Why I Turned Down An $85,000 Job Recently In North Dakota

On Thursday morning of this past week, a former supervisor telephoned me and said that he would like for me to come and work with him.  He said that he could offer to pay me $25 per hour, twelve hours per day, Monday through Friday.  I quickly did the math in my head, the first forty hours would be $1,000, and the next twenty hours of overtime would be about $740, so that’s $1,740 per week.  For easy math, at fifty weeks per year, that’s a little over $85,000 per year.

I told him that I already had a job, that this job was going O.K., but that I would consider it, because his job offer was more money than I was currently making.  My current job is not very difficult, this job offer that he was making would be a more difficult and more unpleasant job.  It would involve working in an area of North Dakota where there is nothing, driving a crane truck, and working on oil wells.

I told him that I was not ready to give up my apartment in Dickinson yet, that he would need to find me a place to stay Monday night through Thursday night, just a place to sleep.  He said O.K.

After I got off the phone with him, I realized that I had a cat now.  What was I going to do with this cat?  I decided that I would get a second litter box, a cat food dispenser, and a cat water dispenser.  The cat would probably be O.K. by himself in my apartment in Dickinson Monday through Friday, but he wouldn’t like being alone.  This cat was an abandoned cat that I took home from a job site, so he wasn’t having that bad of a life, living in a warm and dry apartment with food and water, though he was going to be alone.  Maybe I would leave the television on for him, and find someone to check on him.

Soon I was going to have to give my current employer not much more than one week notice that I was going to work someplace else due to being offered a lot more money.  I wasn’t looking forward to having to explain this to him, and causing him to have to find a replacement for me on short notice.  I was also uneasy and apprehensive about giving a notice of resignation when my current job was an O.K. job that I liked, that was not difficult.

At the end of the day on Thursday last week, my former supervisor called me back, he said that everything had been worked out, the company owner had agreed to pay me $25 per hour, pay for health insurance, provide a trailer for me to stay in, that we would be working seventy to eighty hours per week.  He said there was some pre-hire paperwork for me to complete, take my drug test, and did I still have my Class A Commercial Driver’s License?

I said that I never had a Commercial Driver’s License, though I had driven vehicles at work that required a Commercial Driver’s License, I didn’t have one.  He said, “Oh shit, that was the whole basis of getting hired right away at $25 per hour, that you had a Class A CDL.  What to do you want to do?  Oh fuck it, we won’t tell him right away, you’ve got the job anyway.”  I said, I don’t want anyone to have a fit when they find out that I don’t have a CDL, just tell him that I passed all of my written tests for a Class A CDL with the air brake endorsement, tanker endorsement, double and triple trailer endorsement, that I had a Class A CDL learner’s permit from Idaho, but that I let it expire before I took my driving test.

I agreed that I would call the North Dakota DMV Friday to find out what I had to do to get my Class A CDL in North Dakota.  Thursday night, I looked at the North Dakota DMV website to see what the requirements were.  One of the things that was going to be a problem for me, which I never encountered before in my life, was that due to this new “Real ID” or “Enhanced Driver’s License” program in North Dakota, I was going to need to provide either a valid U.S. passport or a certified Birth Certificate.

Up until August of 2017, I had a certified copy of my Birth Certificate, until Lowell Kern Jr. of Belfield stole my truck and took everything out of my truck, including my original Social Security Card and my certified Birth Certificate.  How was I going to get another certified Birth Certificate from Florida where I was born 49 years ago, and how long was this going to take?

I was beginning to become angry, I don’t want a fucking Class A CDL, I don’t want to have to jump through a bunch of hoops with the North Dakota DMV.  Once you have a CDL, the legal blood alcohol limit is no longer 0.08%, it drops down to 0.04%, and you have to report any traffic citations to your employer immediately.

And what is this about working seventy to eighty hours per week?  This means you would be working six to seven days per week, every week, having only one or no days off per week.  What would I do with my cat then, I guess I would have to get rid of him.  When would I do laundry, when would I do personal errands, when would I pay my bills?

Where I was going, there are no grocery stores and there are hardly any restaurants.  You end up eating horrible gas station and oil field truck stop packaged food, day after day after day.

Why would I want to live like this?  Living like this there is really no reason to be alive, working every day, being tired and filthy dirty all day, being excruciatingly cold, with only horrible rotten food to eat, and only seeing fat, ugly, ham-fisted, mean nasty battle-axe North Dakota women every day.  I would make $100,000 per year, but I would pay about $30,000 in income tax right off the top.

I told him that I was not currently physically or mentally able to work like this.  I have done this before, like many, many people who came to North Dakota to work during the Oil Boom, and I don’t really want to do this again, it is not worth it, living like this.

I talked to a friend of mine on Friday of last week, and he said that it was good that I didn’t take this oil field job, the price of North Dakota oil is currently down to $20 per barrel.  What this means is, with the price of oil this low, is that oil companies will suspend all oil field work at this time, and there will be many oil field worker layoffs very soon.

I felt very bad that I almost resigned from my O.K. job that I like, for a very miserable job that I wouldn’t be able to do for long, or wouldn’t have for very long with oil field work being shut down due to the very low price of oil.

Truth About The Work Situation In Dickinson, North Dakota

In the past two weeks, I have written three blog posts about three different couples that I have seen moving out of the low rent older apartment building where I live in downtown Dickinson, North Dakota.  Each of these three couples had moved to Dickinson about six months ago, and now they are leaving Dickinson.

Every day there are radio advertisements from local companies in Dickinson about how they offer competitive wages, paid family health insurance, and $3,000 to $6,000 sign-on bonuses.  About once each week, there is a representative from North Dakota Job Services talking about hundreds of job openings in Williston, Watford City, and Dickinson.  Yet when I log on to the North Dakota Job Services website and I search for jobs in Williston, Watford City, and Dickinson, there are fewer than forty current job openings in each of these towns, and one third of them are for medical professionals.

What is really going on?  To explain, I want to write about an experience that I had yesterday on Saturday November 10, 2018, in Dickinson:

I went to a gas station in Dickinson that I normally do not go to.  Working at the cash register, was a man that I had worked with in Dickinson seven years ago, back in 2011.  He is about 6′-3″, 300 lb, able-bodied, fairly intelligent, and he is from Dickinson.

In 2011, this man was the operations manager for the small oil field service company where I worked.  He was in charge of the crew trucks, equipment trailers, skid steers, backhoe, scissor lifts, snorkel lifts, lull, generators, compressors, compactors, and other tools.  He operated equipment in the company yard, and at the job sites where we worked.

This company where we worked constructed pump jack concrete foundation pads at oil field locations, salt waters disposal facilities, steel warehouse buildings, and performed work at several different refineries.  The operations manager ordered material for the work that was performed, and he sometimes supervised the work that was performed.

The operations manager did a pretty good job over all.  He worked at this small oil field service company for several years, before going to work for a supplier of oil field tools and equipment for several years.

Why is this big, strong, able-bodied, fairly intelligent, competent, local person, with ten years of experience working in the oil field, working as a cashier at gas station in Dickinson, if there are supposed to be hundreds of job openings in Williston, Watford City, and Dickinson?

In my recent blog posts titled “The Truth About Living And Working In Dickinson, North Dakota”, “Truth And Lies About Living And Working In Dickinson, North Dakota”, and “Even More Truth And Lies About Living And Working In Dickinson, North Dakota”,  I have tried to explain that business people, property owners, property managers, and oil field companies are trying to “keep things going” by spreading false information.  They want to keep people moving to Dickinson to do business, so that the value of their properties remain high, to rent or lease properties, and to have a large pool of skilled labor in order to keep wages low.

Even More Truth And Lies About Living And Working In Dickinson, North Dakota

Today, Saturday November 10, 2018, I am yet again watching a couple move out of the low rent older apartment building in downtown Dickinson, North Dakota where I live.  No, this is not an across town move, because they have a pickup truck and a U-haul trailer, and they are very carefully trying to fit absolutely everything they own into this truck and trailer, because they are leaving Dickinson.

In the past thirty days, I have written two previous blog posts about two other couples who were moving out of the older apartment building where I live in Dickinson.  Both the first couple, and the second couple, the husband was truck driver.  Both of these two couples moved to Dickinson about six months ago.

On the radio in Dickinson, North Dakota for the past several months, there have been advertisements from local trucking companies about how they need truck drivers, they offer competitive wages, paid family health insurance, and a $3,000 to $6,000 sign-on bonus.

Why is it that truck drivers come to Dickinson for work, then they leave about six months later?  No, they didn’t make so much money that they are leaving.  I talked to them, I saw how they were living, I saw that they had very little, I sometimes saw and heard these couples arguments that continued through the parking lot and into the building, the kind of arguments that people have when money is scarce.

Also on the radio in Dickinson during the past sixty days, I have heard representatives from North Dakota Job Service talk about the great need for workers in Williston, Watford City, and Dickinson, about several hundred job vacancies in Williston.  Yet when I log onto the North Dakota Job Services website, and search for job openings in Williston, Watford City, and Dickinson, I see that there are less than forty current job openings in Williston, and less than thirty current job openings in Watford City and Dickinson.  One third of these job openings are for Registered Nurses, Travel Nurses, and Medical Doctors, more job openings in the medical professions than there are in the oil field.

What is going on?  I know exactly what is going on, and what is happening.  Business owners, property owners, property managers, and oil companies want to “keep things going”.  The business owners want customers, the property owners want their property to continue to be worth money, the property managers want tenants, and the oil companies want to have a large pool of skilled trades people so that they can keep wages low, have the threat of easily replacing workers, and being able to replace skilled trades people like they were shop rags when they get worn out.

In my previous blog post, I found a short way to put it, if you are not from this area, you are treated like a migrant worker.  No matter if you have a college degree, management experience, or a great deal of work experience, if you are not from this area you are treated like a migrant worker.

What does this mean, being treated like a “migrant worker”?  It means that you will be followed more, stopped more, and treated with more scrutiny by the local city Police.  You are a good candidate for a DUI, a good source of revenue for the city when you pay your court fines, and how the local attorneys stay in business with the $3,000 retainer fee you will pay.

If you are not from this area, you will be treated like a migrant worker in many businesses, establishments, city, county, state, and federal offices in Dickinson.  At work, you will be disliked, mistrusted, mistreated, and undermined by your local co-workers, local administrators, local managers, and local company owners.

The truth is, that there are some job openings in Dickinson, and the wage rates are still above average, because no one wants to live or work in Dickinson.  The local people are unfriendly and hostile, the real estate prices are way too high, there is not a lot to do, there are very few places to go, and the local employers and the local co-workers treat out of state workers like shit.

More Truth And Lies About Living And Working In Dickinson, North Dakota

About ten days ago, I wrote a blog post article about a poor truck driver and his wife moving out of the low rent downtown apartment building where I live in Dickinson, to return to the state where they came from.  When they moved in six months ago, back in May of 2018, they arrived with a thirty year old beat up car that they had borrowed from someone.  The only progress they made financially during the past six months was being able to buy a twenty-five year old beat up pickup truck for about $2,000.

During the more than one hour drive that I have to and from work, and while I am at work, each day I hear on FM radio stations advertisements for truck drivers wanted in Dickinson, North Dakota, where the companies are offering sign-on bonuses of $3,000 to $6,000, and family health insurance plans.

How can it be, that even though this truck driver neighbor of mine worked long hours and I hardly ever saw him, how could this be that he and his wife were so poor?  How could this be that when he lost his truck driving job in October, he was unable to get another truck driving job and had to return to the state where he came from?

This same exact thing that I saw happening ten days ago, where this truck driver and his wife who arrived here six months ago were moving out of the apartment building where I live in Dickinson, happened again two days ago.  Another couple who arrived here six months ago, where the husband drives truck, they are moving to Bismarck.

I ask the readers to please stop and think about this, every day I hear on FM radio around Dickinson, advertisements from several different trucking companies about their immediate need for experienced truck drivers, where they offer competitive wages, anywhere from a $3,000 to $6,000 sign on bonus, and family health insurance plans.  Why do poor truck drivers from out of state move here with their wives and belongings into the least expensive apartment they can find, to take a truck driving job in Dickinson, never appear to get ahead, and then leave Dickinson after six months?

These truck drivers leave Dickinson because they were lied to, and were misled.  All out of state workers who arrive in Dickinson are treated like shit, both at work, and outside of work.  If you are not from Dickinson, you are treated like a migrant worker.  You will not receive fair treatment, or good treatment, the whole time you are here.

The companies in Dickinson, the Chamber of Commerce, and North Dakota job service will continue to put people on the radio talking about the great need for workers, the shortage of workers, and that companies are desperate for workers.  Yes, they do need workers, because they treat everyone like shit, and they leave.  This is why people will not come back to Dickinson to work.

The Reality Of Living In Dickinson Versus The Lies

On this blog website, I have tried again, and again, to explain the reality of living in Dickinson, North Dakota, versus the lies.

Right now, today, there are advertisements and announcements on the radio about truck driving jobs in Dickinson, Watford City, and Williston with “paid benefits, housing provided, $3,000 sign-on bonus, and $6,000 sign-on bonus”.  Yes, there are some truck driving jobs in Dickinson, Watford City, and Williston, but it is not like what is advertised or claimed.  I want to give a recent, real life example.

In the Spring of 2018, at the older, low rent apartment building where I live in downtown Dickinson, there was a couple in their late twenties who moved into my building.  This man and woman, appeared to be kind of poor, they drove a thirty year old luxury car that was worn out, with the rear suspension sagging.  Later, it was found out, that this wasn’t even their car, it had been lent to them.

Everyone in the building remembers this couple moving in, because they made a fuss about someone being parked in “their parking space”, which caused at least a year long mutual agreement and understanding of the residents to be messed up, and a chain reaction of squabbles.

Mathematically, there are not enough parking spaces in front of the building for each apartment to have one parking space, without even considering that some apartments have two drivers and two vehicles.  It came to be understood and established, that the mothers with children, and the women who were less mobile, had their usual spot where they parked their car in front of the building, and the men, who typically drove pickup trucks and were able-bodied parked on the street.  It was a very practical arrangement, that worked very well, until this new young couple demanded “their parking space”, which then caused everyone to end up parking in someone else’s customary space.

This couple was from out of state, and the husband was a truck driver.  I never saw very much of the husband, because he was always working.  After about two months of living in this building, this couple bought a twenty-five year old Chevy pickup truck that was beat up, and they gave back the thirty year old luxury car that had been lent to them.

I remember this husband and wife fighting and squabbling some, on a regular basis, with their arguments and hostility being carried or continued into the parking lot, and hallways.  Car doors slamming, shouting, yelling, fighting between the two of them about the other one not doing what they wanted, needed, or were supposed to do.

With their beat up truck, shabby, dirty, cheap clothing, and tired appearance, the husband always seemed to be coming from the position of working hard, working long hours, and the wife not doing what she was supposed to do, or not understanding that they didn’t have money.  And the wife was disappointed and unhappy about everything, where they lived, what they had, and her not getting what she wanted.

This past week, five or six months after this couple moved into my building downtown, they are moving out.  The husband lost his truck driving job, and they are returning to the state where they came from.  All by himself, this poor, tired, worn out truck driver was carrying all the beat up old furniture from their apartment, and piling it in the back of their beat up $2,000 truck.  The wife was no where to be seen, it looks like she split, too much disappointment and humiliation for her.

This husband was hardly ever home, because he was out driving tractor trucks.  With the supposed high demand for truck drivers, high rate of pay, $3,000 to $6,000 sign on bonuses, why are people like this couple so poor?  Why was the husband let go?  Why did they have to pay for their own apartment?  Why couldn’t the husband easily go get another truck driving job with a $3,000 to $6,000 sign on bonus, and housing provided?

I have lived in Dickinson, North Dakota for a little over six years now.  What business owners, business organizations, and politicians claim, is a bunch of bullshit, hype, and propaganda which benefits them:  To keep people coming here to rent apartments, rent homes, buy homes, keep real estate prices up, keep businesses going, to have an overabundance of labor, in order to keep labor pay rates low.

If you are from out of state and you come here, you may be able to get a job, but you will not be treated very well because you are not from here, you will be undermined by your local co-workers, not valued by your local company owner, used like migrant laborers, and let go.  You may be able to pay your bills while you are here, but you will not get ahead financially unless you live almost like a homeless person or Mexican migrant worker to try to save some money.

Explanation Of A $3,500 Weekly Pay Check

I work at an industrial site, far outside of Dickinson, North Dakota.  The rules on this site, are what you would find at a mining operation or a refinery:  Heavy equipment has the right-of-way;  hard hat, safety vest, eye protection, safety toe shoes are required at all times; no visitors or non-employees are allowed on the site at any time.

There are many restrictions, rules, and procedures on this site that the workers here take for granted, but most people would be unaware of, such as absolutely no photography or video recording on site, 10 mph speed limit on site, and all vehicles must come to a complete stop and wait when a crane is lifting something, even if it is 100 feet away from the roadway.  All of this is just one of the reasons why visitors or non-employees are not allowed on site, they would be unaware of all these restrictions and rules, or perhaps they would be non-compliant with some of these restrictions, rules, and procedures.

This Friday, one of the equipment operators on this site asked me for a favor, would I take his pay check, and hold it for someone who was going to pick it up at the site entrance later today?  This equipment operator works at the far back of the site, and I work at the front of the site near the entrance.

This equipment operator gave me his pay check, and he described to me the vehicle that the guy would be driving that was coming to pick up this check, he did not tell me this person’s name, he just gave me a vehicle description.  I was trying to get better, more detailed clarification of what this vehicle was or who this person was, but the equipment operator did not give me much more details, as if he didn’t care that much.

Within about ten minutes, a truck matching the make, model, color, and special ZR71 edition, fitting the equipment operator’s description, arrived at the site entrance.  Just one thing didn’t match his description, this truck didn’t have a light or light bar on top.  I talked to the driver, and he said that he came to the site, looking for a job.

I was irritated and annoyed that I almost gave this equipment operator’s pay check to the wrong person, because all he gave me was a description of the vehicle, and within ten minutes a vehicle matching his description arrived at the site entrance.  I looked at this paycheck to see how the equipment operator had endorsed it, to see if just anyone could cash it, if I gave it to the wrong person.  The back of this check was endorsed, “Pay to the order of xxxxxx “, and I could not decipher the person’s name.  At least this check wasn’t merely endorsed with a signature only, in which case the wrong person might be able to cash or deposit this check.

The amount of this check was $2,500, which irritated and annoyed me further, this was too large an amount to be so nonchalant and careless with it.  The employee pay stub was still attached to this check, showing that this pay check was for the one week pay period 9/23 to 9/30, the rate of pay, the amount of hours worked, and the gross pay before any taxes were taken out was $3,500.

I thought to myself, no wonder this equipment operator acted like he could not care less about this pay check, he gets paid $3,500 per week.  This $2,500 check was no big deal to him, he would get another one for the same amount or more next Friday.

I thought about this some more, $3,500 per week, equals $14,000 per month.  $3,500 per week, times 50 weeks, equals $175,000 per year.  That is a lot of money.  That is much more money than teachers, police officers, nurses, college professors, engineers, CPAs, and the majority of attorneys get paid.  This is even more money than many family practice medical doctors get paid.

I have written in previous blog posts, that despite what newspapers and television news stations report, I have only ever met about four people who made over $100,000 per year working in the oil field in North Dakota.  This equipment operator, isn’t really working in the oil field, this is an industrial site, not the oil field.  At another industrial site that I worked at in North Dakota in 2015, a friend of mine made this same hourly pay as this equipment operator.

The friend of mine that worked at the same industrial site as me in North Dakota in 2015, and this equipment operator at the industrial site where I work now, though their weekly pay checks can be as high as $4,000 per week, and they can make as much as $16,000 per month, they usually do not make over $100,000 per year, due to project completion, winter work shut down, and being laid off from work.

Something that I think about, is why do people who graduate near the top of their class in high school, go to college for four to six years like CPAs, engineers, and attorneys, or people who do things that we are supposed to value in society like teachers, nurses, or police officers, why do they get paid less than half of what this equipment operator gets paid?  Part of the answer, is that in North Dakota, where the majority of people are not very educated or work in a profession, they do not value education or professional occupations.