Eugene Paizs the Digger man

by Paul White

Contact has been established with the 'Digger man.' His name is Eugene Paizs and is a mere 73 years old! His neighbour came to me declaring "Eugene is at home," so I jumped in my Land Rover and hot-tailed over to his place. His yard was in total darkness and it was raining. There appeared to be nobody at home as no lights were on. 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.

Eugene Paizs the Digger man

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

On hearing this a big 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 has tunnels under his house and garden. However, I did ask him about burrowing under roads!

Drainage channels that run under roads are usually dug at the time of road construction. Sometimes though the issue of excess water is not realised until after the tarmac has been laid. The usual response would be to break up a section of road and then dig down to lay the pipework. This is where Eugene comes into his own as he can burrow under a road forming a perfect circular tunnel, leaving the tarmac intact and with no disruption to traffic. He uses no mechanical tools and relies mainly on his Russian made shovel and pickaxe!

Eugene & Paul

We have arranged to meet tomorrow weather permitting. I need a 40 metre long trench, one metre in depth. I am hoping that Eugene can dig between my many fruit trees, so a JCB can get in to do the rest. 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 has a nickname, Jeno, which I will use from now on as most villagers use this when talking to him. Anyway, Jeno has been hard at work and has now dug the trench for water and waste pipes. I have been waiting for the JCB to arrive, but there's no sign of it. Jeno said he will dig the septic tank by hand 2x2 metres and 3 metres deep!

I have agreed not having the heart to stop his fervor for digging! I could photograph this guy all day, so please forgive the endless photos on my favourite subject. This guy really makes me laugh. He jabbers on in Hungarian, then when he sees that not much is 'sinking' in he swaps to Romanian. Again no luck, so falls back on his elementary Russian. When that doesn't work, he starts all over again in Hungarian!

Jeno has a big thirst when working, but not for water. He fuels up on brandy and with regular top ups he then ploughs on for hours.

Eugene fuelling up for days work!

Trench for mains & waste water

Eugene Paizs the Digger man

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

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