PICTURES: A Young Man Looks For Work In An Oil Boomtown

Williston, North Dakota

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

I met James my first morning in town outside the Williston, North Dakota community centre.He was boiling water in the parking lot to make some shrimp flavored Ramen noodles and took some time to talk with me about his journey.

We ended up spending the next three days together.

When I left him, he was sick and getting sicker. Promising updates, he texted me after I got back and said he’d been to the clinic and diagnosed with a lung infection, an ear infection, and fluid in his lungs.

He’s taking anti-biotics and says that though sometimes he gets down, he’s determined to push on.

Here is James beside the 1990 Aerostar van he drove to Williston from Oregon. He asked that I not show his face.

When he first arrived in town, James parked his van in the Walmart parking lot and slept among the campers there

They all got kicked out so now he sleeps in this parking lot

They park behind this church, which lets some people inside on the coldest nights

He does his best to keep warm, though his sleeping bag is only rated at 15 degrees

He uses this small heater inside to keep from freezing on the coldest nights and uses that small camp-stove to boil water for Ramen noodles. The hot pads he puts on his heart when it's especially cold.

He showers here at the community centre for $3 a day

He looked for work here first, but says they people were not terribly helpful

Next he tried here, but was told he needs a Commercial Driver's licence to get work in the oil fields

While doing his laundry here at Bubba's Bubbles, some guys told him to look for job postings in free weekly newspaper, the Shopper

After getting a fresh copy he scored a job at this FedEx branch loading trucks for $16 an hour

James is hoping for work doing wireline, starting at about $120,000 a year

James is not alone in his search for a better life

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.