The NYT profiled a boom town in North Dakota that's attracting men to work the oil industry.
"LAST spring, Bob Ripka decided the time had come for drastic change. His once-robust income from his job at a printing company was dwindling. His family lost its house in the real estate crash. And employment prospects around his home in Pine City, Minn., more than an hour north of Minneapolis, appeared scant.
He heard talk around town about plentiful work in North Dakota, where new drilling technologies are driving an oil boom. “And I decided, ‘Well, I’m going to go make some money,’ ” he recalled in an interview. So on Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Ripka, 48, removed the rear seats from his 2003 Dodge minivan and replaced them with a mattress. He threw some clothes in a bag, said goodbye to his family and drove 10 hours west to Williston — ground zero in the North Dakota petroleum explosion.
After filling out a round of applications and sleeping in his car for several nights, Mr. Ripka was offered a job driving heavy trucks for an oil services company, helping to pour cement to secure casings for new wells."
It's really just an article about men, who have been hardest hit by the Great Recession. The article gave me the same feeling as looking at these old photos from the Depression. The dignity of work. It kind of makes me fall in love with my country all over again.
The one thing I don't like about the article is that the Times refers to it as "Man Camp". I realize that it's short and catchy, and I'm not going to read too much into it. But these days, the word "camp" sounds trivial, and associated with summer camp, a carefree childhood, or camping in the woods. Or it sounds like some lame-ass retreat for emasculated push-overs to learn "how to be a man". Leaving your family for weeks or months at a time is not fun. There is nothing carefree about it.
At the same time, I'm pretty sure that Williston, North Dakota is a far cry from the "Man Camps" of the American West, building the transcontinental railroad, or a Civil War military campaign -- or basically, any significant construction project, military installation, or frontier town throughout all of human history. Because that's what men do. Build stuff and take risks. (And fight.)
The real story is that the Times can make it through this article without once mentioning the Keystone Pipeline. These energy and construction projects are perfect jobs for men. And they disproportionately benefit low status men, the forgotten people of history.