I’m not trying to be mean. It’s as true for journalists as it is for drillers. We’ll get to that in a second. First, I want to talk about a great experience the editors here at National Driller had last month. Columnist Brock Yordy and Stock Drilling invited us to the 5th annual WMU-AIPG Field Day.
The event, put on with help from the Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, fit into the second of two six-week Hydrogeology Field Courses that Western Michigan University holds each summer. (Yordy wrote about the first one in August’s issue.) It attracted geology and hydrogeology students from all over to actually get an idea of what you, the drillers, do. Stock Drilling had rigs running wire line coring, soil sampling, standard penetration testing and direct-push with imaging. I know I found the experience helpful. I bet the students geeking out on limestone cores and the relative qualities of different soils hit seventh heaven.
It offered a great chance to get out of the office and see drilling up close. We see rigs all the time, but usually sparkling on a trade show floor and not spackled with mud in the field. It’s something we, as editors, need to do more often.
But watching the wonder on the students' faces got me thinking again about how little “civilians” know about drilling. What does it look like? What does it involve? What does it sound like? What does it feel like?
These concepts seem abstract to most people. Most people don’t realize that, if you can’t grow it, you have to drill for it. Drilling being such a cloudy concept makes it a lot like journalism.
I’ve run into this constantly over nearly two decades as a working journalist. “Civilians” don’t understand the line between opinion and editorial. They don’t get how much effort we go through to verify everything that goes into print, even if the occasional error slips through (see this month’s correction below …). They don’t believe what they read, even though every journalist I’ve ever known works hard to faithfully, fairly and truthfully document what he or she sees and hears.
I don’t state all of this to complain. It comes with the territory. You get used to it. Likewise, I’m sure drillers meet their share of people whose eyes glaze over at the words, “I’m a driller.” I bet a lot of people nod and act interested, but don’t care to find out, either. Can you blame them? What happens when a person at a party tells you, “I’m a CPA”? You nod and smile and act polite, because that’s how your parents raised you.
Drilling has such a wide impact on everything that makes the modern world turn that people should take the time to know something about it. Not everyone needs to get out in the field with the sun on their neck, but folks should take the time to learn where their water came from. People should know if that Superfund site ever gets redeveloped and back on the tax rolls, drillers installed the monitoring wells. “Civilians” should understand that drillers are often among the earliest crews on site to see if a major infrastructure project even makes sense where engineers hope to put it.
What do you think? What happens when you tell people outside the trade that you’re a driller? Do you get an eager, tell-me-more look? Or do people politely nod, then try to change the subject to sports? Tell us about it. Send an email to email@example.com.
Stay safe out there, drillers.
In our recent interview with Wayne Nash (Wayne’s World, August 2017), we mischaracterized the size of a micron. A passage on Page 16 should have read: “20 or 30 microns, about the size of a grain of sand,” not “… maybe a sixteenth of an inch.” We regret the error.