If you live in the city, probably you have fantasies about moving to the country. Quiet. Open spaces. A laid back lifestyle. Bliss.
Yeah, sometimes. But not when your well pump gives out on the Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend and you're visualizing what it'll be like to live without running water for longer than you want to.
Which, it turned out, was about half an hour. That's when the newness of washing hands and dishes from one of the emergency water containers we keep on hand wore off.
When I lived in cities, I can't recall ever turning on the tap and having nothing come out. When you're on a well, that can be a frequent occurrence.
Electricity goes off – no water. Pump breaks – no water. Pressure tank system malfunctions – no water.
And no fun.
Nothing ruins a three day holiday like no water for the house. So I ran to the phone and dialed the number for Bello Pump & Well Service, who had left a helpful sticker on our equipment to remind us that they'd replaced a previous pump.
There's nothing like hearing a well guy answer the phone and tell you, "I'm in your area. I'll be there in a few minutes." Bella, Bello Pump.
Some testing revealed that likely our pump was the problem. It couldn't be replaced until the next day, so we roughed it overnight.
But this morning, there Rich Bello was, armed with a piece of equipment that his father had made the last time our pump needed to be pulled – a device made from a wheel that fit over the casing and helped roll the flexible (and heavy) 200 feet of continuous pipe out of the well.
Bello Pump & Well Service is a family affair. I like how their Yellow Pages ad says "Owner present on all jobs…Richard and Paul Bello, owners, workers, YOUR PUMP MEN!"
Not quite accurate, because Rich brought his wife and oldest daughter along to help out. One drove the Bello SUV up our driveway, slowly pulling the well pipe as the rest of us helped guide it out. Felt like a community barn raising. Except, not so much when I sat down and wrote Rich a check.
But I was happy to do it. Getting competent, friendly, and prompt well service on a weekend is priceless. Well, not really. I don't want to give Rich unreasonable financial expectations next time we need him.
It took quite a while to drain the orangey irony water that filled up our well after all the work that'd been done on it (our water needs to be heavily treated, as is common in marine sediment aquifers in the south Salem hills). And it looks like we still have an intermittent circuit breaker problem.
That's how country life goes. You learn how to deal with problems that city folk don't have.
Walking the dog late in the afternoon I met a neighbor driving home. When he asked, "What's new?" I had a pump tale to tell him, adding that days like these make visions of a downtown condo look appealing.
"I know what you mean," he said. "But dealing with challenges keeps rural life interesting. I've learned a lot about how to fix things since we moved out here."
True. It doesn't take much for me to reach my level of mechanical incompetence, though. Especially when the problem is 200 feet underground.
That's when you need a well guy. If you're in the Salem area, make that a Bello guy. (And maybe a gal, though I got the impression that Rich's daughter had other career choices in mind once she's finished with school).