Well drillers are an unusual species. They’re one part geologist, one part machinist, one part businessman, one part dirty day laborer and the rest is really just a mish-mash. I know this because I’ve spoken with so many in the past few weeks. In this neck of the woods there is plenty of ground water, so wells tend to be shallow, and shallow wells don’t make money for well-drillers, so I’ve spoken with quite a few. The ones nearby don’t want the job because they know that along with having a lot of ground water, we also have a lot of rocks. Big rocks. Enormous, actually. And they charge by the foot, so if they hit a lot of rocks it slows them down, dulls their bits and pisses them off. Well drillers from farther away don’t want to come unless they can drill over a thousand feet, to pay for all the fuel it takes to get here, and so those well drillers want to be able to look up well logs from previously drilled wells, so they’ll have some idea what they’re getting into. You can’t blame them, really.
The problem is that to look up the well logs, they have to have section, township and range numbers, which, if you’re not a cartographer, farmer or well driller, are somewhat mystifying. The title to my new land shows the township and range, but not the section number, so I had to get an advanced degree in mapping to figure it out. Its lucky that I have a sort of business relationship with a mapping professional nearby, so my education was free. I learned quite a lot of interesting things about maps and how they got that way, and now that I’ve read off the numbers to the well drillers, I can’t imagine I’ll ever need that knowledge again. Its a lot like algebra in that way.
So I mapped and cartographed and made a lot of long distance, cajoling phone calls and didn’t get very far. I almost threw in the towel when one of the guys called me back when he was all drunked up and went on for 45 minutes about all sorts of crap, until he finally got around to mentioning that, unlike all the other (sober) well drillers, he decides what to charge after he finds out how tough the well is to drill. That’s when I hung up on him. The funny thing is that I mentioned this conversation to Roger, my builder (and, as such, to me he is the font of all things great, the source of the rising sun, the master of all he surveys, and, frankly, just what a huge, looming, milky tit must be to an infant), and he said “oh, yeah, that guy. He’s always drunk, and he wants you to write the check before he starts working. He’s a pip.” But does he show up and get the job done, I asked, and he said “sure! He does a great job.” Well, what more do I want?
Turns out that what I want is this other guy, who, having been informed of my predicament by a mutual friend, called me up to say he’d be out with his rig a week from Monday, and that he only charges $24 a foot, whilst his competitors all charge $28. I’m saved!
Right about the time that the well gets drilled, the power company should be getting around to putting up a new pole for me. That step will require considerably more money than I had planned, since my place is more than a hundred feet from a “primary” (see, now I’m not only a cartographer and conversant with all the names of enormous earth-moving equipment, but I’m well on my way to being able to chit chat with electrical linemen the world over, using their jargon as handily as a card shark handles a pack of cards), but at least the lineman I’m dealing with – Emilio – is a gem of efficiency and punctuality, so I won’t have to suffer or grovel. I’m sure I’ll have more than enough opportunity for that when it comes to getting a plumber out here.