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Ode to an old well pump, etc.
editor's notes

I burned a vacation day and spent Monday chopping down a couple medium sized trees and clearing brush near our pump house, all so we can get a new well pump installed by a guy who needs the room to get his boom truck back there.

You see, the old Goulds deep well jet pump is about to give up the ghost.

It stopped working Friday night while my wife was taking a shower. Our water pressure got perilously low and I found myself at Lowe’s bright and early Saturday morning getting my 10 percent veterans discount on a pressure switch and some plumber’s thread tape.

I installed the switch (it is not my first rodeo replacing such a thing) but unlike the time I did it five or six years ago (it worked) this time there was no cigar when I turned the power back on. The pump didn’t kick in like it usually does.

I said some words I probably shouldn’t have and stomped around the yard a bit, looking for a squirrel or something to throw a screwdriver at. “It didn’t work,” I told my wife.

If you don’t know her, my wife is a 5-foot, 100-pound bundle of energy who thinks life is largely about my time off being spent productively, which means working in the yard or carrying heavy objects from one end of the house to the other so she can see how they look. Then after all that relaxing I can go back to work.

Otherwise, she is a good woman with a kind temperament, abiding faith in her creator and a love for Andy Griffith reruns that beats anything I’ve ever seen. But she does not suffer lack of creature comforts lightly, which means my natural tendency to procrastinate and delay what can be done now until next week tends to get on her last nerve. To put it politely, she gets surly.

“What,” she asked, standing there with a rake in her hand, “are you going to do about that pump?”

“I’ll have to call someone,” I said, then reminded her it was Saturday and for all I knew all the good pump people were at the beach. She nodded and promptly handled it her way.

Monday morning a good old boy known to be an expert in wells and pumps showed up, did some knocking around and told me the wire to our pump was “compromised.” I’d never heard that term used in connection with a wire before, but electricity weirds me out and I’m apt to believe anything somebody with a multimeter says.

So, I nodded and told him to fix it. About $300 later, we had 300 feet or so worth of new wire running from our shed to the pump wire which, I might add, I will have to bury at some point after I call 811 to make sure I don’t dig up a natural gas pipeline or whatever else might be sneaking around underneath the yard. “You just never know what’s buried down there,” this guy said, looking at me like he knew exactly what was down there and I wouldn’t like it.

“How deep do I need to bury this wire?” I asked, thinking the way he was talking I might need to go 10 foot deep and Lord knows what might be lurking. Mole people?

I needn’t have worried. “Oh, about a shovel’s worth. But you still want to check before you dig. It’s free.” Oh, good, I thought.

At some point around that time we hit the power and turned the pump on. It sounded terrible, like my neighbor was using it to saw one of his derelict vehicles in half. “Goodness,” I said, or something with about four letters in it. The well guy, who is probably a year or two older than me and comes highly recommended, said that racket means the old pump is about to quit working.

“It could last a while and drive your neighbors crazy or it could go at any minute,” he said, noting he can put in a new one for a certain price, and will knock some off the cost off the service call and his hooking up all that wire I’ve still got to bury.

Me and my wife nodded, and then he told me he’ll need to get his boom to the pumphouse to yank the old pump off the well and install a new one. I suspect it’s slightly more complicated than that, but maybe not. Some people have a knack for that sort of thing. Just look on Youtube.

While we were talking, my wife and I realized the pump has been on that well almost 40 years now. We told him that.

“You got the goody out of it,” the well guy said, and we sure did.

I don’t know how much water it pumped over its lifetime, couldn’t say how many dishes or clothes it washed, kiddie pools it filled or tomatoes and flowers it watered. I could never count how many behinds it rinsed, or cars and pickups it washed, but it did its job mostly without fail and without much maintenance for the better part of four decades.

If I could, I’d give it a medal and play taps.

I can’t, so I’ll just say thanks and maybe put it on ebay.

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