Let me get that for you…..

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


It seems as though everybody drinks bottled water these days but approximately 40 years ago, it wasn’t that popular. Back then, if you drank bottled water, you were either rich, an idiot, or you
lived in an area where the water was so unsavory as to make you gag (or gain weight based on the minerals and sediment in the water).

Submitted: January 11, 2018

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Submitted: January 11, 2018

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Let me get that for you…..

 

It seems as though everybody drinks bottled water these days but approximately 40 years ago, it wasn’t that popular. Back then, if you drank bottled water, you were either rich, an idiot, or you lived in an area where the water was so unsavory as to make you gag (or gain weight based on the minerals and sediment in the water).

We happened to live in the last option. The water in West Texas was so disgustingly salty and mineralized that you would drink just about anything else to keep from going to the kitchen faucet. Literally, the water from the sink faucet would be brown or very yellow based on the recent rainfalls or the number of bass boats around the water pump intakes at the particular lakes the water supply was pumped from. Not knowing any better or without an economically feasible option, we drank the water, cooked with the water, made the standard uses of the water we were “furnished” by the municipality that we lived. The water made excellent iced tea as the tea would mask the “toiletry” color of the water perhaps this is why iced tea is so popular in these areas) The water was a great dietary aid because, if you drank a glass of water, you consumed so much minerals that you weren’t hungry anymore. I firmly believe this was the origin of the old saying “ I almost shit a brick” (it was a west Texas saying so may not have become widely popular through the rest of the world). Back to the story.

That wasn’t necessarily the case with some of the local cattle watering troughs that were fed by the windmills we could see from miles away. These small areas were like an oasis out in the deserts of west Texas and the water was pure and sweet pumped continuously from the bowels of the earth with no contaminates, heavy minerals, etc. (unless you considered cow slobber or the occasional oil sheen on top of the tank as contaminates). The water was great and tasted sweet, if you could get away from the occasional cow patty, mosquito larvae, turtles, heavy moss, and dead dove during hunting season (not many bird hunters in West Texas have retrievers thus, if a bird was killed and landed in a stock pond, it usually ended up feeding the turtles). One of the great uses of the heavy moss was to get a bunch and hold it around your mouth and suck the water through the moss to negate ingesting large quantities of mosquito larvae and possibly small chunks of cow patties. Note: As children roaming the desert at will, we didn’t know any better and figured 4-5 feet away from a cow patty was clean water. I am older now and will not drink after my grandchildren. Needless to say, we never got sick or died from drinking from a stock pond.

When your first child (or even all your children, based on if you really like them or not) is born, you want the best for them to help them grow strong and healthy.  On the advice from our pediatrician, we were instructed to use only bottled water instead of the “nasty” water supplied by the city of Odessa for mixing things like formula, frozen juice concentrates, and other things you may have to break down to be consumed by the newest arrival (as none of my children nor their father was ever breastfed, this was pretty much a way of life). Being good parents, we opted to shoulder the financial responsibility of supplying the fresh, sweet bottled water that had come from natural springs from melting glaciers that had never been touched or seen by mankind. (come to find out the “source” of this “natural spring water” was actually the city of Houston municipal water supply (no longer Eureka Springs, Arkansas), I had no idea the glaciers were ever in Houston or Arkansas. At any rate, it became my responsibility to make the trek to the local Gibson’s store to procure this “nectar of life” so sorely needed to keep my children healthy and growing EVERY week. It is a chore I came to hate like so many a responsible husband and father will do given the complexity or the frequency of the chore. As most chores expand, this one expanded at an exponential rate. I, like other fathers, assume the water was being used strictly for the purpose agreed upon. I started asking questions when we went from 5 gallons a week to 10 gallons a week to “why don’t we have it delivered”. Finally I asked the question “how can a baby drink 10 gallons of water in 4 days??” Now, now this person who is supposed to be a partner, a soul mate, a better half, confesses that she has been using it for cooking, drinking, making iced tea, everything, just short of bathing in it. I almost felt betrayed as I had given up on purchasing that deluxe bass rod that everybody was using, just so I could afford the outlay for the fresh, sweet bottled water that had come from natural springs from melting glaciers that had never been touched or seen by mankind. I was crushed.

While I continued to supply the “water junkies” the Ozarka water they demanded, I took it upon myself to survey the population of Odessa to see if the use of the municipal water supply wreaked havoc on the children of the populace causing umpteen birth defects, bad teeth, unruly hair, or incurable diseases. I found no evidence to support the pediatrician’s theory. Granted, there were several “droolers” and “booger eaters” noted during my survey but I figured this was not a result of drinking from the municipal water supply, windmills, or stock ponds. Especially when observed with the parents of these individuals.

Still in a huff about the betrayal and the breaking of the contractual agreement for the purpose of the bottled nectar, I made my trek to procure more of the liquid gold (bottled water was expensive back then as it was packaged in heavy glass jars and you had to leave a $5 deposit for every bottle unless you had an empty to return for refill). If you have nightmares about what McDonalds does to your “mystery meat” hamburger, you don’t even want to think about how “Jose” refills the water bottles.

As I said before, I went to Gibsons to purchase the bottled water and they had the bottle racks right there by the front of the store next to the checkouts. You grab a basket, insert two 5 gallon glass water bottles inside the basket, make your way to the checkout (with the basket that has a crippled front wheel and veers off on a tangent with any forward motion) and go stand in line to check out. Easy peasy!! I have done this so many times, it is second nature……..except for today.

Today, I get my cart, ease over the bottled water display, park the basket just so so, (so I can swing the bottle in one fluid motion into the waiting basket and reach down for the other bottle. Same fluid motion. Five gallons of water weighs approximately 42 pounds and the glass bottle weighs approximately 8 pounds more which is no step for me. Fifty pounds when I was 40 years younger was as common as picking up a shoe. I had been a welder most of my life and done other things during my time in the military that insured I was strong enough to pick up 50 pounds and throw it across a considerable distance. However, I was not throwing the bottled water anywhere, just pulling it out of the rack and placing it in a shopping basket.

The standard procedure for retrieving the water bottles from the rack was, generally, find a bottle in the top rack, sliding it out of the rack till the bottom of the bottle clears the rack, and catching the bottom of the bottle so it does not come into contact with the next bottle down in the rack. Did I mention there are 3 rows of bottles in the rack?? If not, that is an important informational part of the bottle rack. On this particular visit, I pull out the top bottle, slide my hand down the rear edge to catch the bottom of the bottle, and swing it into the basket. This time …….you guessed it……..I missed. Gravity does strange things to heavy objects. The bottle I had in my hand dropped low enough to contact the top of the bottle below it, breaking the neck off that one and the bottom of the one in my hand and continued down to contact the bottle on the bottom shelf of the water rack, of course breaking that one as well (do you see the significance of the 3 row bottle rack now?)

I have enough engineering background to know that 15 gallons mixed with gravity will cover 8 kazillion acres, or at least that is what the manager of Gibsons stated to me as he called the army of mops and buckets for “Clean up in Aisle One, everybody!!!”

I never saw a more efficient mob of clean up personnel then or now. If you have seen any of the movies over the years where little cleanup robots swarm a sudden mishap, you would have the mental picture. The pace they made capturing the man-made flood was quick and competent and they almost outran the flood of water that was attracted to the floor mounted electrical sockets. I said almost. With the advent of technology in grocery and home appliance check out, the new electric cash registers were plugged into the newly installed floor mounted electric receptacles that were installed only a few months before. Everybody knows that you do not install electrical plugs anywhere that may get wet unless they are installed in a GFI or ground fault interrupter. A ground fault interrupter is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. Thankfully no one was exposed to the current and learned to “break dance” that day. Note: I honestly believe this is the way “break dancing” was invented. I was able to witness a “not very good electrician” that failed to lockout/tag out a circuit before working on the item and ended in the appearance of an admirable attempt at break dancing. One of the big mistakes the electricians at the installation at this particular Gibsons made was to tie all of the GFIs into a single buss so when one went dead, they all went dead. The result was an immediate darkening of the store and cash registers. Thankfully, some of the battery operated emergency lighting activated immediately upon loss of the main power supply to the stores interior. On the down side, the store was packed with customers with no way to pay for their purchases until the power was restored. Many were still groping their way to the front of the store where the bright west Texas sun beckoned to them like a moth to a candle.

The manager was yelling orders right and left and hollered “Is there an electrician in the building, it will take about 15 minutes for our maintenance manager to get here and fix the power??” No one answered immediately. Being a self-professed electrical genius, I offered my services to the manager who looked at me like I was a large rattlesnake that had suddenly appeared from under a rock and muttered “Oh hell no” but continued in the professional voice stating that “We had better wait for our maintenance manager”.

I needed the water so I stood back next to the bottled water rack and waited for the power to be restored. Many of the shoppers recognized me as the cause of the current situation and pointed and glared at me, some pointed only using one finger and not necessarily the index finger. I stood in my little spot and kind of shuffled my feet trying to be as invisible as possible. There was a time during my military days that I was an artist at being undetectable and obscure but that talent had abandoned me this day. I busied myself with counting floor tiles, sudden interest in the light fixtures, and feigned interest in the paper towel display.

Finally, the maintenance personnel arrived and all was put right. With the lights restored I collected my basket and advanced on the bottled water rack again. At this point the manager literally RAN over to me yelling “Sir, sir let me get that for you!!” I told him that I could easily handle the water bottles and muttered something like “I have already seen that” but said in his professional voice “Please, I insist”, motioning for one of the bulkier sackers to come and assist. They graciously loaded up my 2 bottles of water and the sacker was instructed to take me through the checkout and for him to personally place the glass bottles of water in my vehicle. I am assuming he didn’t want broken glass all over his parking lot.

I can only make the assumption that this is used as a training guide for store employees being forced to ask “Can I help you with that” as I get the same comment since I left Odessa. I would not want to believe that my reputation with liquid containers precedes me. However, ANYTIME I went to Gibsons, I was watched with disapproving eyes and was never allowed to get my own water again. They knew my face but I never let them know my name just in case there may have been a “blackball” system put in place. I did go to Furrs Supermarket a couple of times for bottled water and was asked once if I was the “Gibsons water guy”. I commented that I have never heard of him as I slinked toward the door.

Thankfully, my children grew out of the need for bottled water and graduated to municipal water supply iced tea and then to soft drinks and probably eventually turned to beer and whiskey. They never started drooling and I never saw them eat a booger so they have that going for them. I do see the potential in them for disasters like the bottled water incident hovering just below the surface.

The last time I was in Gibsons, I nearly had to fight one of the stock boys who insisted he carry a gallon of milk to my car. I guess some things you just can’t live down.


© Copyright 2020 Daniel Harry. All rights reserved.

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