Water Softener Blues

NO! All my days are not perfect. April 7, 2009 was a very discouraging and frustrating day! In December, I discovered my electric Fleck 5600 Econominder water softener, installed May 19, 2000, was not working. I opened the tank to add 40 pounds of salt pellets and it was half full instead of being empty. I didn't know I had an emergency! I thought I'd just have water like everyone who did not have a water softener. Wrong! Now, my bathroom water is coming out brown. I dialed the number of the company that installed the unit. They are out of business!

I opened the door to the triangular cabinet where telephone books are stored on the top shelf: THREE books of yellow pages, all A-L!

Returning home from the post office, I stopped at Ray's house and borrowed his yellow pages M-Z. I studied all the neighborhood water softener ads and chose two: Sparkling Clear Industries, listing only their address, and Aquatex, a member of the Better Business Bureau. I MUST have BBB recommendation. Have you called them recently? A real day time nightmare!

A "machine" answered and instructed me to select my reason for calling from a bunch of suggestions. I said "report"; the machine couldn't understand. After three more tries, I was told to dial "1". The human voice was very nice, telling me they had no information on Sparkling--a non-member. I dialed Aquatex. They don't sell electric water softeners. If I wanted them to send a technician out to see if mine can be repaired, or if I'd like to try their brand, the receptionist explained: "I've had one for 20 years with no problems. Electric ones are cheaper, but last 10-12 years. The service call will be $94.50. for first 30 minutes; $58.50. for the next."

I said, "I don't need one to last 20 years, since I just turned 88."

She said, "Joe Doe & Associates" (fictional) could help you. I don't know his number but he's in the phone book." NOT in the yellow pages. There was "Joe Doe" in business white pages.

I dialed Better Business Bureau again. That machine and I didn't get along at all. I hung up in confusion and disgust. I couldn't get a human. I dialed Joe Doe's number and asked the receptionist, "Is this a water softener company?" She laughed and said, "No; we're CPA's."

I told her why I called. She said, "Let me see if I can find anything on the internet. Yes! He has a 1-800 number." I thanked her for her kindness and dialed away. Yes, they work on Fleck 5600's. The service call to determine if mine can be repaired will be $88.60 for first 30 minutes; $20. for each 15 minutes thereafter. Cash only! I made an appointment for Thursday.

I fussed at myself: "You dummy! You just made a deal with a company with a 1-800 number, not listed in the phone book, who told you their address was 'over by the airport just off Beltway 8,' and cash only for the service call!" Is anything wrong with this picture?

I drove over to the Sparkling company to check out their business set-up and have a talk with them. The T.C.Jester Blvd. address, a business park, had no such company at that location!

During the 5-minute drive back home, I was very discouraged. I'm thinking: "What next? You've been fretting over this problem at least three months. WHY haven't you talked to God about it? You've prayed every day about everything else. What could God do? The water softener is broken and I need someone to fix it." How often do we try everything on our own in vain before we turn to God in prayer? I prayed: "Remember Lord, how you helped my brother Jerry, immediately, when he had 1,000 pounds of frozen chickens to store somewhere? He looked in the yellow pages and dialed the perfect number. (May, 2006 "Happenings"). Help ME choose a perfect number to call." The prayer was much longer. As I prayed, my mind did a flash-back to my dear friend Ann's funeral visitation when her son Bobby handed me his business card; asked me to keep in touch. He's a master plumber in Pasadena!

Does God care about my problems? YES! ALL of them! No wonder I've had so much trouble on my own--God wanted to help! Why would a moment in my funeral home visit on November 2, 2008 come to mind as I prayed to God on April 7, 2009 about my water softener? God loves us and wants to be involved in every situation. I thought my problem was too small for Him. I didn't think about His greatness--"Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4).

Great is His ability to meet our small needs. If our problem is too small to pray about, then it is indeed too small to be a burden.

I dialed Bobby's number. He said, "I'll come over and see if it can be repaired…can't come today…I'm baby-sitting my grandkids! How about 9:00 Thursday morning?" Wonderful!

I cancelled the appointment with Joe Doe & Associates!

Bobby had a big plumbing business with over 100 employees in Pasadena, Texas until health problems forced him into semi-retirement. He is age 63 and works temporarily.

Bobby and his wife Judy arrived in a huge van-type truck like a plumbing company on wheels! He disassembled the whole Fleck 5600 Unit; thoroughly emptied (shoveling out the "gook") and cleaned the two tanks; and loaded everything into his truck. Fortunately, he had connections to find replacement parts. Some he cleaned after soaking them in a chemical solution two days to remove accumulated "crud." No other plumber would have done this time-consuming work. They would have condemned the equipment and replaced with a new unit.

That afternoon of April 11, Judy's sister's step-daughter Kurstin and three friends went shopping for prom dresses and accessories at the Memorial City Mall. Kurstin spent $600. If the others spent the same that would be $2,400. As the four girls were walking to the car in the parking lot, they were attacked by three teenage boys who demanded their purchases and purses. The girls fought unsuccessfully as best they could. One clung to her purse and a boy drug her across the parking lot towards the get-away car before she finally had to let go. A man witnessed the tragedy, dialed 911, and began following the thugs in his car while reporting their escape route on his cell phone to the police. They caught up with them; took the thieves to jail; and returned all the packages and purses (all contents recovered) to the girls! No where is safe today!

Bobby and Judy returned the next Friday to install the repaired water softener. Since the water pipe line from the meter to the house had been installed 55 years ago, Bobby wanted it replaced. He dug the neatest trench about a foot deep and a foot wide around the very, very old rusty pipes…120 feet in length. There were so many tree roots the last 15 feet, mostly from God's tree (July, 2008 "Happenings"), he had to use an electric saw to remove them--three were 6-inches in diameter! I fussed at him for doing all this work when I could call on my yard man, Chester, to do that digging. He assured me no one could do it as fast as he!

A few years ago, he was working on a water line on a ranch near Dallas, Texas. The owner hired a ditch digging machine to make the four-foot deep (?) trench about a mile (?) long for laying the pipe. Bobby, 5'7" tall, 130 pounds, complained how slow the machine was, vowing he could do it faster! The race was on! Bobby started at the other end and met the machine more than half way! Bobby WON! This event is in Guinness Book of Records.

Bobby insisted the 120 ft. of PVC pipe was left over from jobs. The replacement parts were only $12. He talked to me over an hour explaining that God wanted him to do this job for me. He had started many "thank you" letters to me for my "Happenings Along the Way to Heaven"; but tore them up because he couldn't find words to express his true feelings after reading them. Then, God spoke to him saying, "You can do something for her." He couldn't imagine what God had in mind. My telephone call gave him the answer! I was speechless -- never so humble…that God gives me the inspiration, the adventures, to touch the hearts of those that need the messages. I write these words through tears. God's love reaches out for ALL of us.

After writing a draft of this manuscript, I dialed Bobby's phone number seven times over a period of two weeks to check my memory of his ditch-digging story. No one answered. Yet, after my prayer to God about my problem, I immediately dialed Bobby's number and he an- swered. God makes His presence known in the reality of everyday affairs. He cares! He loves us.

When my parents built their home on Chalcos Drive in 1954, their neighbors, Ola Belle and Jimmy Brister became best friends, like part of our family, for the rest of their lives. When Ola Belle died in 1992, Don Brister was pallbearer. The Katy News Obituary announced the death of James Durward Brister, son of Donald Eugene Brister, brother of Donald Jr., on May 2, 2009 at age 46. "In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent in his memory to the Dylan Mills Burn Fund c/o any Chase Bank." Dylan is in the Shriner's Burn Center in Cincinnati.

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