Whippin' the Drunk
Drillers always come up with unusual situations such as the story below. Many times we have to deal with them on the spot.
In this case, I had been contracted by a friend and customer only to drill the well; the customer was going to set his own pump. We had no written contract, only a verbal agreement between friends.
I drilled the well, and it was a fine well that supplied probably 30 gpm for home use. The customer/friend was there when I started drilling the well, but left soon after I started, telling me he would be back before I finished. That usually was the case: When I finished the well, the customer seldom was there to pay. That's the reason we started requiring a signed agreement and a 50-percent deposit.
When we finished, we blew the well until it was clear and ready for the customer to install his pump, capped the well and left.
For weeks, I tried to call the fellow and drove several miles to his home to catch him with no luck. I was getting seriously worried that I wasn't going to get paid at all. I also knew that this friend had a bad temper and had heard that he had killed his brother in a fight many years before.
I finally got in touch with Richard, and he advised me the well was no good and he wasn't going to pay me anything. He told me that he had dropped a suction hose into the well and connected it to the 2-inch irrigation pump on his tractor and it wouldn't pump anything. Of course, it wouldn't - it was 50-plus feet to the water. He still refused to pay me.
Knowing how mean he could be, I didn't want to confront Richard again. My two sons (about 8 and 12 at the time) and I drove out to the well site about 10 p.m. one night with our winch truck, some dynamite, dynamite caps and wire. We knew Richard would be at the county rodeo.
We tied the winch line to the well casing and pulled up a good strain. Then we attached the 1⁄2 stick of dynamite and cap to the wire, and we ran it inside the casing and stopped it in the well about 10 feet from the well bottom. We touched the wire to the winch truck battery and felt a bump. As the well pack gravel poured into the hole in the casing, we proceeded to pull the casing. We would pull the casing up to the next coupling and cut it off.
Once we had the casing on top of the ground, we starting loading it, and Richard came driving up, drunk as a skunk. He jumped out of his truck and said, ”You leave that pipe right there!” I said, “Richard, I couldn't collect from you, so I pulled the casing to put it in for someone who would pay.” Again he said, “You leave that pipe right where it is!”
I looked up at Richard - he was twice as big and tall as me - and said, “Richard, am I going to have to whip your tail?” Richard looked down at me and said, “I don't think you can do it!” I said, ”I don't think I can either, and there's no reason for one of us to get hurt!” Richard started laughing and said, “Awe, take your pipe and go on.”
By this time, things had settled down somewhat, and Richard helped us load our casing and tie it on the truck. He wanted to know if I would return at a later date to drill him another well, and I said, “Sure.” What I didn't tell him then was that before I returned to drill him another well, he would have to pay me for that well and the next one as well - in advance.
Richard and I remained friends for many years thereafter. Did he ever ask me to drill him another well? No! Did I ever ask him if he wanted me to drill him another well? No. Did he ever get another well drilled? Not to my knowledge!
Sometime later, my sons asked me, “Dad, how did you get out of fighting with Richard?” I said, “When you see you are going to get the tar beat out of you, you defuse the situation the best way you can!” Fighting solves nothing, both parties loose.