Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mr. Fix It vs. The Broken Pumphouse

My dad can fix anything.  Eventually.

He's a firm believer in the do-it-yourself approach, mainly because it is so much more expensive to have someone else do things for you.  But the do-it-yourself approach sometimes comes with drawbacks.  Costly mistakes that a pro would have avoided, like what happened a few weeks ago with my brake shoes.

Because nobody in my family is financially secure enough to own brand-new cars, most of our vehicles have their own special quirks.  So dad's usually fixing one of our cars on any given Saturday.  Once, when he was installing new brake shoes in my car, he accidentally put a piece in backwards. My car was instantly transformed from a semi-reliable transportation device into a bucking bronco with a hornet in it's ear.  Nearly every time I mashed the brakes, my car would make horrid groaning noises and shake back and forth.

Ultimately, after complete brake failure and the purchase of a new set of brake shoes, the car was fixed properly.  But even though sometimes he makes mistakes, my dad is still the best fix-it man I know.  In his defense, he hadn't ever put brake shoes on that car before...and the manual was long gone (yay, used cars!), so he didn't have any help.  

He is also one of the most determined individuals I have ever met.

I don't know much about what exactly happened to the pumphouse after I left for work that day.  I do know that it was a miserable wreck after it's unfortunate accident and that it was decidedly broken.

Dad missed work that day entirely.  He spent all day working on that dratted pumphouse, trying to get running water back for us all.  Take a moment to think about how much water you use each day.  Most of us take running water for granted.  We get clean, drinkable water at the push of a button or turn of a tap.  We don't even realize how dependent we are on water until it's taken away--even temporarily.

For the course of that day we could take no showers.  We couldn't cook dinner.  We couldn't pour ourselves a glass of water or make tea.  We couldn't flush our toilets.  It was not a fun time for any of us.

I called home at lunch, just to see how everyone was.  I knew that my parents had not been very happy the last time I saw them--but a floating, spewing pumphouse is enough to make anyone a bit upset, I wager--so I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help.  I was in town, and I figured I could maybe bring home some supplies or new pipes or something.

I found out that every pipe in the pumphouse had been severed in at least one place.  Some pipes were broken in two or more places.   The entire pumphouse was off of it's foundation.  The pumping mechanism had been smashed.  And no, there wasn't anything I could do.  Dad had already gone to get the supplies, including a new pump. Those things apparently don't come cheap.  Yowza. 

When I got back home that afternoon, around sunset, dad was putting the final pipes in place.  The vinyl siding on the corner and sides of the pumphouse frame had cracks running everywhere.   I got the honor of being the first to turn on the tap, and let me tell you, watching the water pour out all over my hands was a beautiful, beautiful sight.

I couldn't bear to close out this post without a link to some friends over at causelife, a charity that provides good clean water to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to it.  I first heard of this charity and how they change people's lives my freshman year of college.  I promise they're legit, and I promise they do make a world of difference in people's lives.

If you've got even the slightest idea how much water means to everyone, then I want you to check them out.  Poke around and see what they're all about and donate if you feel like you should.


  1. There's a pumphouse in my future. I hope nobody runs it over. I'm good at fixing thing, too, but that doesn't mean I want the opportunity.

    Glad you folks got your water back.

  2. It's definitely not an experience I recommend, but we're all happy that everything is more or less back to normal.