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COLUMN: Often things aren’t as simple as expected

I have learned there is truth to the adage that square pegs don’t fit in round holes, at least when ...

On the Other Hand, by Mark Rushton

I have learned there is truth to the adage that square pegs don’t fit in round holes, at least when the distance between the points of the square is greater than the diameter of the hole.

My revelation had its genesis in a phone call a few days ago from a neighbour – “our well is dry.” At this time of year, it’s not an unusual occurrence for many who live on Sumas Mountain. Rain was in the forecast, indicating resuscitation of the water source was likely. Yesterday, I received a call . . . “there’s lots of water in the well, but still nothing at the house.”

The reason for my involvement is that the neighbour’s husband is out of town on business, and while she is a most capable and independent woman, she had exhausted all avenues to remedy the problem.

So on Monday, we checked out everything and in the process of peering down the well, discovered water spraying from a broken pipe, some 10 feet down from the lid.

Since her father, who now lives in a remote part of Quebec, had installed the well and its ancillary equipment, she gave him a call to see if he had experienced anything similar in the time he lived in the home, and what he had done to solve it.

He explained he had manufactured a special ladder to fill into the well opening, and that she/we should use that to get inside, determine the exact problem and either fix it ourselves or at least give a qualified repairman an idea of what he would be facing (and charging).

She located the ladder (it weighs a ton, she told me) and asked if I could arrive Tuesday morning to get it in the well and begin the remediation process.

Thus, yesterday morning, I arrived at her home. We hauled the steel angle iron with rebar treads creation down the hill to the well, climbed up on the well deck and hoisted the 100-pound-plus 16-foot ladder into a vertical position to slip it into the hole in the lid.

And at that point, we discovered the square peg, round hole dilemma.

The round hole was 17 inches wide, the ladder 18.

A call was made to her father, exemplifying the incredible convenience of cellular phones and instant communication. There was a lot of pondering, numerous photos instantly emailed, and questions about whether or not concrete contracts or steel expands.

Despite the opinion from afar, I can’t believe that ladder was ever inserted through the hole. Its construction was more likely based on working with it in the well before the top cap was added, and permanently affixed with concrete.

As it now stands, my neighbour is awaiting a visit, advice and possible repair from Abbotsford’s expert on all things related to the operation of wells.

And if one of his repairmen refuses to slither through a 17-inch hole, then descend 10 feet into the gaping maw below to put things back into working order, I guess it may be back to me.

On returning home, I discovered I had a light, aluminum ladder 20-feet long and, marvel of marvels, it’s only 16 inches wide.

All I have to do now, if necessary, is to figure out how to get my shoulders through a 17-inch hole and, more importantly, back out again.