Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Working in the (Black) Gold Mine

Posted on: February 16, 2012

To fully appreciate the good news, you have to remember the bad. My company was gobbled up by a bigger company in 2003 and there followed a reduction in the management force. I was 51. A modest self-enterprise eventually reaped an offer from one of my clients. Then came “The Great Recession” and this position, too, was downsized. I was 56. My parents were ailing then, and we pulled up stakes to care for them in North Carolina. The recession was even worse there. It still is.

So when family conditions made it possible for me to move, I headed for the one place in the country where I could be almost guaranteed to find work: North Dakota.

I began looking for work here last Wednesday, and when I had found none by Friday, began to get panicky. I was getting the same old saw: “You’re over-qualified for what we do.” It seemed that I’d come all this way only to be stranded here empty-handed while young studs made big buckets of money.

Then I got an offer. It was a good one; much more up my alley than swinging chains around a drilling pipe. It even paid well. But I’ve been so negatively conditioned over such a long period of time that I didn’t jump at it. They patiently waited and, yesterday, I put self-doubt aside and said yes.

My company is contracted by the oil companies to find out who owns land they want to drill on. There are surface rights and mineral (below the surface) rights to be investigated, legal papers drawn, contact made, and checks tendered to these landowners. I am part of this process. I get to use my nose for research, my eye for detail, and my sterling personality for working with the soon-to-be wealthy.

I can do this.

There’s nothing glamorous about my job and that’s part of its appeal. I wear jeans and no tie. I work with good people who are giving of themselves to help get me up to speed. I’m not strapped to a desk, will be face-to-face with salt-of-the-earth people, and will be nicely compensated for the effort.

If I weren’t so old, I’d consider doing back flips.

But that’s Part 2 of the good news. Part 1, as I’ve stressed in my previous posts, is finding shelter. Lots of people get here without a place to live. I had one a week before arrival. It’s a modest basement room in the home of a wonderful family just across the border in Montana. I don’t have to look far to realize how fortunate I am in this. My new Veteran Service Officer – a life-long Willistonian – reinforced the point for me today. I have it good especially when compared with so many of the men and women he sees every day.

So I’m thankful: to God for keeping me going when my heart wanted to stop; and to so many people who kept pulling for me along the way. I wish there were a way to package and send measures of my happiness to you all.

4 Responses to "Working in the (Black) Gold Mine"

Great news Fred! Glad to hear you found work. Take care out there and keep us posted.

Way to go, Fred!! Thought you were going to drive a truck!

I have enjoyed reading your posts. So glad you found a position, sound better than driving a truck AND you have a warm place to stay. Congrats!

Thanks, Ellyn. Please say “Hi” to my all of my friends at the JFS Group.

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