Williston North Dakota: Boomtown or Clusterfuck?

mancamp 2013-08-02_2129

By Kevin Leland

If you couldn’t tell by the title, this will be a rant containing adult language and humor — Rants without humor give readers a headache. Humor without offensive language is something only Kevin James, bless his heart and wholesome comedic talent, is good at. Kevin Leland, on the other hand –Just. Can’t. Do it. Sorry!

North Dakota boasts a 2% unemployment rate. For a New England boy, who has been job hunting in Rhode Island and Vermont, where unemployment is 12%, but is really a lot higher because they can only count those who are collecting unemployment benefits which formerly self-employed people like him aren’t allowed to do even though he paid into it year after year for the people he hired and kept employed, and who can’t find and hold a job that pays half as much as he used to pay people to work for him and is sick and tired of sucking hind tit in the job market since the housing bubble burst causing his business to crash, his houses to get foreclosed on, his cars to get repossessed and his wife to divorce him, and has found out over the last four years that there is hardly any difference between searching for a job and begging for one, neither of which gets him one, and that when he does get one, holding on to it is another story because nothing gets him fired and replaced by a boss-blower faster than being smarter, more talented and more capable than the stupid douche bag that hired him (a.k.a. ‘being overqualified’) –North Dakota’s 2% unemployment rate is a big draw.

Another thing, which may seem insignificant to some, but that really appeals to Walmart haters, is a North Dakota state law that  makes Walmart, the bane of the American workforce, line up behind the “Mom and Pop” store for a change, instead of squashing them under-foot. In North Dakota, a pharmacist must own at least a 51% share in the pharmacy where they ply their trade. So, unless those proud members of the Lucky Sperm Club, that is, in this case, the Walmart Heirs, are going to attend pharmacology school, and were by chance smart enough or motivated enough to graduate, and count pills for people, instead of counting money Daddy left them, then it looks like they are going to be unable to use their only-game-in-town, monopoly status to gobble up those last, small, family owned and operator owned businesses, here in North Dakota anyway.  Maybe they should follow the lead of CVS in Rhode Island, and grease the appropriate politicians, and hit up the legislation-for-sale, black market to buy the right to grow their giant business/monopoly, un-accosted by ‘the little people.’

Now, North Dakota winters do not intimidate this New Englandah nearly as much as trying to write this whole post in the third person, without once slipping up with an ‘I’ in place of a ‘he’…Kevin Leland better proof read this an extra few times before he posts it. Ya know what intimidates him so far? Culture shock. Other than being out to sea, a place where he is comfortable, whether it’s on a fishing boat or a Navy ship –he’s never seen the horizon so far off in the distance. The land here, especially in the eastern part of the state is as flat as the ocean. At least right now, in early September, there is some color to break it up –the bright golden yellow of acres of ripened beans, contrasting but complementing the deep-green alfalfa with the different shades of light beiges to dark browns of corn and sunflowers drying for early harvest, and fields with cut and rolled up hay. These are all neatly divided by gravel roads, intersecting at exact ninety degree angles and continuing for miles without the slightest bend until the lines become so fine, they just disappear inches before the horizon. What will it be like in winter when it’s all snow-covered? Once, just a few years ago, there was 106″ of snow whitewashing this giant prairie landscape. Although to the culture-shocked, homesick eye, the depth of the sprawling whiteness, probably won’t make much of a difference. He’ll find out later that the forty-mile-per-hour winds blowing in all directions at once, when the temperature in seventeen below zero, will be the difference between New England cold, and Middle of No Where cold. The fridgid temperature causes the electrons orbiting the nuclei of nitrogen and oxygen atoms come to a complete halt and they fall to the ground with the snowflakes, leaving nothing but anti-matter to breathe.

You say “if someone is going to bitch about homesickness and culture shock, they shouldn’t move away from home in the first place!” But, that’s what’s great about a rant. It’s a reason to bitch — without the right. Besides, many people don’t realize that homesickness and culture shock isn’t always about great distances from home, and foreign landscapes. Sometimes it’s just divorce and foreclosure and job loss and financial ruin, not miles, that separate you from the home and hearth you’ve always loved, and have grown accustomed to and comfortable in. Driving by the old homestead, everyday, but legally prohibited from ever crossing the threshold again, can bring up those hard, nostalgic feelings more often than is psychologically healthy to cope with. In those circumstances, sometimes a few hundred to a thousand miles distance between the exiled heart and the charred remains of what used to be security, stability and hard-earned comfort, is the best medicine. When you are very absent minded, and daydream a lot, especially when you drive, and find yourself ‘driving home’ in auto pilot, and don’t realize until you turn onto your street, and see the house you built, with your own two hands — that you’re not allowed to live in anymore — you’ll realize what homesickness and exile is all about. Like jail, it’s a harsh punishment. A prison sentence induces the painful feelings of homesickness and culture shock as instruments of physically non-violent, emotional torture. A wife’s sentence “I hate you, get the fuck out” has the same effect. Maybe exile is a just punishment for a murderer, but it’s not right when your only crime is being homeless, unemployed and divorced. This is the hard-luck story of most guys who travel to Williston –this North Dakota ‘boomtown’– in need of, and in hopes of finding good, exceptionally good paying work, no matter how gruelling, and without need of proper living quarters.

click to buy Evangeline, by Longfellow at Amazon.com

click to buy or download for free -Evangeline- by Longfellow at Amazon.com

This exceptionally, high-paying work searcher just read ‘Evangeline’ by Longfellow last night, so he’s in touch with his exile, and his skills for surviving it. See, with recreational, voluntary travel, the strange feelings of being away from home, out of your comfort zone, is temporary; and therefore exciting. It’s part of the thrill of traveling. Forced travel is not fun. Exile, like was imposed on Evangeline, Gabriel and the Acadians of Grand Pre, by the greedy, tyrannical King of England, and imposed on Kevin, by the money-grubbing, tyrannical Alpha-bitch of Marshall Circle, needs to be survived –it can hardly be enjoyed. Rants are written, usually in the first person, and posted by pissed off writers, with the only purpose being to vent while empathetically pissing off readers.

This rant is breaking all the rules. Reading this rant will hopefully inform you. The reader will learn (1) How to survive exile (2) How to find employment in a strange land. (3) How ‘strange’ a land, the Bakkan Oil Patch of North Dakota actually is.

(1) How to survive exile

  • Read Longfellow’s poem about separation, life-long separation, from just about everything and everyone, on earth, that you love, identify with and care about.

  • Understand the difference between where, what and whom you identify ‘with’ and what and whom you identify yourself ‘by.’ Big difference.

  • If that last point was unclear, here is an example: Identify ‘with’ your hometown, job, and friends and family vs. Identify yourself ‘by’ your Country, your vocation and God.

  • If your god is your job and money or social status or an asshole spouse –you’re screwed. You won’t survive. Sorry. Good luck though.

  • More than anything, healthy indifference will get you through a period of exile, even if it lasts a lifetime.

Today was the feast of St. John Chrysostom, a 4th century Doctor of the Church. He taught us that the right kind of indifference is not only healthy, but can actually be a virtue. We are more familiar with the bad kind of indifference; the kind that embodies apathy, or a lack of a sense of purpose, duty or responsibility. The ‘good kind’ of indifference is the virtuous kind that affects those who hang on tight to their sense of duty to God, country, family and neighbor, while everything else around them crashes and burns. This kind of indifference will make the person who has suffered the loss of just about everything they’ve ever identified with, leaving them only with what they identify ‘by’, say — “Fuck it!” — and then immediately ask, in a way that is anything but rhetorical or irreverent: “Christ, what do I do now?” See? That person will get new things to identify ‘with.’ What they identify themselves ‘by’ was never lost. Evangeline lost her home, her country, her father and her new husband. She came to identify with her exile, and her search for her lost love, who remained for a lifetime, just out of her reach. She identified herself by her love for her husband, though absent, and by her sense of duty to God and neighbor as she gave comfort to everyone who needed it, while she traveled through strange lands for decades in her exile and in her search for her lost husband Gabriel.

(2) How to find work in a strange land

  • Search only in strange lands with a low percentage of unemployment.

  • Resist the temptation to job hunt from afar, even though the InterWeb makes it easy.

  • Show up in the strange land where you are looking for employment.

  • Overcome the potential employer’s xenophobia with drug-free piss, solid references, and well documented experience.

  • Use your ‘stranger in a strange land’ status to your advantage.

The advantages to being far away from home when looking for a new gig, are many. Most importantly, in America, there are many more good Samaritans than there are immigrant-hating bigots. Those who hate immigrants from other countries, legal or otherwise, usually don’t care too much for the ones coming in from other states either. An American Swamp Yankee will be about as unwelcomed as a Mexican by some hatin’ Texans. Good folks with the typical security of a house, a steady job, kids in school, etc., don’t have the freedom to wander around in far-off places for any longer than a two-week, paid, shoe-bee vacation may allow, so hiring a person from far away, can be the next best thing to traveling there. Lastly, especially in sales jobs, your accent and mannerisms can really make you stand out. A Northeast accent in the Midwest can really draw attention and interest. As any experienced salesman will tell you, the more the merrier when it comes to anything that’ll draw an attentive ear close for a sales pitch. And even closing the deal on a truck driving job, requires some salesmanship.

(3) How strange a land Williston North Dakota is:

Bringing this informative rant, full circle, back to the title question: Williston, North Dakota: Boomtown or Clusterfuck? Kevin Leland sums it up with the following quote, as stated while heading back East, looking at the last Target Logistics ‘Man Camp” in his rearview mirror; “Vieni. Viedi. Va fa une goo” …Which is Latin for: “I came, I saw, I turned around and got the fuck outta there.” Does a ‘Man Camp’ sound like a place to live? No. It sounds more like the title of a gay porno. For those who go in with a fifth wheel, or camper of some sort in tow, good luck finding a place to park it outside for less than $1,500 per month…And, Yippee! They just built an ‘indoor’ RV park, with two pool tables! A concrete truck driver makes $25 per hour. He doesn’t get company-paid board at the man camp. So the opportunity to earn a higher than average American wage is quickly squandered by price gouging on the sub-standard living quarters. Is anyone appalled by price gouging associated with the oil industry? *note sarcasm* Fuckers! But you might be surprised that black-gold fever is as contagious as chlamydia. The property owners in the oil patch, jump in bed with the oil companies, and are infected faster that she can say “is it in yet?” No wonder some guys who have been living and working in Williston, even for as long as six months, are still sleeping in their cars. No wonder they’re miserable. Lonely. Dirty.  Overworked. Exhausted. Horny…

There are not many available women there for the guys that want them, and greatly outnumber them. The females that this blogger has seen out there, like the two bufforillas that called the cops because his dog was tied up, on a nice patch of grass, on a breezy seventy-two degree day, outside a Taco Johns for two hours, without food or water, while he was writing this post, because they think that just because they can’t go two hours without wolfing down a super sized value meal with a large Coke, it’s cruelty to animals if they’re made to wait for their owner a couple hours, fifteen minutes after their morning feeding and a nice walk –well, It would  be nice to say these bitches looked like they got beat with an ugly stick, because in reality, they look more like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, then were trampled by a stampede of ugly buffalo…Just sayin’…Williston, North Dakota is definitely an ugly, giant, dusty, dirty, greasy, greedy clusterfuck. But, Taco John’s is hiring, and they pay $15 per hour to start.

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5 responses to “Williston North Dakota: Boomtown or Clusterfuck?

  1. I really hope you can find some place to call one Kevin. I hope you find someone to share your life with. You know that old saying… A rolling stone gathers no moss.

    Very well written piece. I have missed you a lot over the months. I didn’t know if you were even alive. I’m so lad to see you posting now.

  2. Edit: not lad. Glad to see you posting.

    Dang iPad. It has a mind of its own. :))

  3. Thanks Charlene. I know that saying, I just don’t know what it means? I was always such a home and hearth guy, but I’m not miserable with my life the way it is now. It’s not the life I chose –but as a wise man once said: You don’t choose life…You live it.

  4. I don’t know you, and this is three years later and the boom has crashed and is burning (along with us with it), but this is kinda the best post I’ve ever read as far as living up here and being from somewhere else. We’re from OK, been here since 2010, but boom has stuffed us and starved us at this point. Only draw is schools are better, and we got kids. Thanks for a great post 🙂

    • Thanks for the nice compliment! You make me want to blog more often, even though there is no money in that either!! lol. You sound like a resilient, adaptable family. And I’m glad to see that there are other realists out there who can find the silver linings among the dark clouds. God bless you. My own kids are grown. The good thing I got out of North Dakota is something that you could be a part of. I’m coming out there with 100s of pounds of live lobsters in a couple weeks. If you think you may have a knack for fish mongering, I need a distributor in the western part of the state. I hope you’re interested. If so, call me at 802-874-0777. I’ll tell you more about it, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to interview you for an update to this old post.

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