Welcome to the Man Camp.

Rustic Barn Winter

A while back when things when I was feeling a little down about my {lack of} work situation my phone rang.  Weird number…so I screened it.  Voicemail…interesting.

It was a guy named Matt from a production company called Studio Now.  Long story short, they work on a national scale to coordinate productions projects for businesses with local freelancers.  He asked if I was available for a shoot.  And after really looking into this place that called me out of the blue everything looked legit.  So I agreed.

That decision took me on an adventure yesterday.  I traveled for my first time into Oil Territory.  Despite what you might think, not all of North Dakota is pumping oil.  Minot sure isn’t.  That all goes on pretty much straight west of here.  Williston is the major hub.  But I didn’t go that far.  I stopped in Tioga, ND.  A tiny town very populated by rough necks {that’s the real term for oil guys} and construction workers.

Wanzek Housing Facilities

My shoot was at the Wanzek Housing Facility.  AKA, a man camp.  Man camp?  See…there are so many people moving here to work there is no where near enough housing.  On top of that, many of the men who come to work, do so at the cost of leaving their families behind in another city.  They secure a sweet paying gig on the oil field…but their family cannot relocate simply because there is no where for them to live.  That’s where the man camps come in.

They are temporary housing units.  Some are really nice.  Some are pretty much just shady barracks, sometimes without good showers.  Wanzek is a very nice man camp.

They have furnished used FEMA trailers that men can rent out.  They have their own bathroom, an extra bedroom, access to a lounge and fitness center.

I was a little nervous about going to do the shoot.  The people of Minot {the natives at least} are pretty down on the whole “oil thing.”  They describe the oil region as hectic and dangerous.  So I didn’t quite know what to expect.  And maybe it is.  Mind you, I was just scratching the surface…at a family owned facility.

North Dakota Oil Boom

It’s just crazy to me that there can be nothing for an hour’s drive, then–BOOM–you’ve hit the boom.  Truth be told, it’s a pretty desolate drive.  Beautiful scenery but not much as far as civilization is concerned.

Rustic North Dakota

On the way home I stopped in a town called Stanley.  The folks at Wanzek told me that that’d be my best bet if I wanted lunch or gas before I hit Minot.  It’s about 30 miles into the drive back home.  I popped into a cafe on Main Street where I was served a delightful philly cheese steak sandwich.  There were construction workers and oil workers and old ladies having book club all dining together.  Business was hopping.  And I wondered if it was the same 10 years ago.

As I sat and watched CNN on the TV in the corner it occurred to me that change will come.  Change will bring new people and faces into our lives.  They will be different from us.  They’ll have a background that we may not be able to relate to.  But we have a choice.  We can be the chipper waitress from Joyce’s Cafe.  Serving each other with a smile.  Eager to know who will be the next “regular” in our life.  Eager to memorize each others “usual order.”

Or we can resist the change and all the things that come with it.  We can be like on particularly crabby apple that attends my senior adult fitness classes.  Picking at the things that are new and unusual.  Turning our mouth down at differences.

Either way…change will happen.  And we’ll all be happier if we are working at Joyce’s Cafe.

Amy

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