Readers have likely heard the adage “may you live in interesting times.” I cannot remember a more interesting time.

The phrase, I learned, probably dates to early 20th century England. While I always heard it as a “Chinese curse,” it may well have originated in the imagination of a nobleman who thought it sounded like something Confucius might have said. Regardless of where it comes from, the saying sounds like a good tiding. When you roll it around in your head for a minute though, you realize that “interesting” here means uncertain. After all, times full of peace and prosperity do not get the same attention (i.e., interest) from historians, do they? A phrase that sounds like a blessing is actually a curse.

Coronavirus makes the current times interesting, to say the least. Yes, people still downplay it as just another flu. But the danger is real, and just as close as a positive diagnosis for an aunt, cousin, coworker or Facebook friend from high school.

As I wrote in this space last month, plenty of people shut down to comply with state orders — some states earlier than others. But, often, drillers fall into the category of “essential” workers. That brings us to the challenges facing contractors in a pandemic.

Physical Health

The first challenge is staying healthy. We hosted a video panel talk on Coronavirus early last month, and the big takeaways for health were decon and distance. Drillers know decon for tooling and equipment. We’ve heard other ideas to keep people healthy, from color-coding tools or designating special toolboxes for each crewmember, to leaving shoes outside at home and office.

Distance can prove tricky for small crews. Of course, masks and gloves help cut the risk of spreading a virus on the jobsite. We encourage contractors to try other tactics too, like staggering start times when multiple crews work from the same garage or designating one person to run (and disinfect) the controls on each piece of equipment.

And, drillers, if you feel the urge to complain about the cost or time involved in these extra measures, remember that they don’t just protect us. They protect vulnerable people we know and interact with. How mad is your diabetic spouse going to be if you bring Coronavirus home? How awful would you feel if you passed it to an elderly relative?

Financial Health

The second challenge is financial. Jeff Williams, MGWC, CVCLD, took part in our panel discussion. As part of his McEllhiney Lecture duties this year, the former National Ground Water Association president has preached the gospel of financial literacy for contractors. His advice for drillers usually involves three important tactics: budget, budget and budget.

Of course, if you failed to budget before a pandemic hit, that advice brings little comfort. For contractors in that category, grit your teeth behind your N95 and stick out the next couple of months of crappy revenue as best you can. When we come out the other side, remember that feeling of wondering if you can pay that big drill rig payment. Then, pick one of Williams’ three important tactics (might I suggest “budget”?) and get started.

If you’ve expected the unexpected and, as a business, planned for it, then even a rough patch that lasts a few months won’t do you in. Then, it’s just a matter of washing your damn hands so the virus won’t, either.

What do you think? How much, if any, has the Coronavirus affected how you work? Is this the “new normal” a lot of people think it is? Or is it all just overblown? Tell us what you think. Send an email to

Stay safe out there, drillers.