Eugene Paizs the Digger man

by Paul White

Contact has been established with the 'Digger man,' Eugene Paizs a 73 years old and incredibly fit gentleman. He has a reputation for being hard to find as he's always busy digging somewhere, but after several fruitless visits his neighbour came to my house and said that "Eugene is at home". I jumped in my Land Rover and drove straight over to his place to meet him.

Eugene Paizs the Digger man

His yard was in total darkness and it was raining. There appeared to be nobody at home as no lights were on. I thought I had missed him again. Then suddenly this figure appeared from nowhere, looming from the darkness. Maybe he had been down one of his notorious tunnel networks that supposedly spread like fingers under his house and garden.

Standing at the gate I just knew that this infamous 'Digger man' would have some stories to tell. I left polite introductory protocol behind and began asking to him if the rumours were true, the stories of him burrowing under roads like a mole and his infamous tunnel network in his garden.

On hearing mu questions a large wry smile broke across his face and he confirmed that it was all factual. I was made aware that his fame was not just local, but national too. He showed me various newspaper articles relaying stories of his digging exploits in Bucharest and Brasov, some of which I will recount in more detail once translated.

Eugene Paizs showing articles on his digging exploits

There was no reason to rush and ask Eugene everything in one meeting, especially in the rain and darkness. So on this occasion I did not ask him why he tunneled under his house and garden, I just asked him about the roads.

He said that drainage pipes that run under roads are usually dug before asphalt is laid. However, the build up of excess surface water is not always realised until after construction has been completed. In response a section of road would need to be to dug up to lay extra pipework, often at great expense. To cut down on costs they would ask Eugene to burrow under the road, where he would dig a perfect circular tunnel. Not only was this a low cost alternative, but there was no disruption to traffic either. It was astounding to hear that he uses no mechanical tools and relies completely on a Russian made shovel and pickaxe. He said the Russians made the best steel.

Eugene & Paul

We have arranged to meet again tomorrow weather permitting. I need a 40 metre long trench digging, one metre in depth. I am hoping that Eugene can also dig between my many fruit trees, as a mechanical digger would not have enough room. I explained to Eugene that three of us have dug the first two metres which involved hard and stony ground with a lot of roots. I said it was very hard work, he replied that it would be easy.

Update - September 29th 2008:-

Eugene also has a nickname, Jeno, which I will use from now on as most villagers use this name when communicating with him. Jeno wasted no time and got straight down to work and has now dug the trench for my water and waste pipes. I have been waiting for a mechanical digger to arrive, to excavate the hole for the septic tank 2 metres by 2 metres and 3 metres deep. Jeno told me to the cancel the JCB because he would do it by hand!

Laura has been translating as my Hungarian is poor, but it doesn't stop Jeno from trying to communicate with me. When he sees that little is 'sinking in' he swaps to Romanian. He then tries his elementary Russian before returning to Hungarian. We went around in these circles several times, so I must try and learn more Hungarian to be able to communicate better.

Eugene Paizs the Digger man

Trench for mains & waste water

Eugene starting to dig the septic tank

Eugene digging the septic tank

Eugene Paizs the Digger man

Jeno dug so far down in one day that he couldn't get out of the pit until we put a ladder down for him.

Eugene Paizs the Digger man

Note: Unfortunately I must announce that Eugene Paizs (Jeno) has died (R.I.P)