You Can Do This: A Lesson In Waterpumps and Other Confidence Building Stuff

waterpumpAs a blogger I make it a point to keep a folder of ideas and articles loaded and ready at all times, and more often than not it’s that folder which serves as my go to source for inspiration.

But every now and then something unexpected catches my attention and on a whim I’ll decide to run with it.

And every great once and a while something truly special comes along that hits me deep down in the ticker, and I just can’t wait to share it.


It’s Wednesday July 3rd, our son Tim and his girlfriend Brittany are on their way to Bullhead City, Arizona for an extended 4th of July weekend. The plan is to get on the road early and get a jump on traffic, and when Tim calls around three that afternoon to tell us they’re just a few miles this side of Barstow and well in front of the crowd we’re happy to know all is going according to plan.

It’s equally pleasing to hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he rattles on about the pending plans for the weekend, one both he and Brittany have been looking forward to for quite some time.

About an hour or so later we get a second call. “Well, we’re screwed,” utters Tim in a muddled and disheartened tone. “Water’s pissin out of the bottom of the pick up like a friggin race horse,” he says, “I think the water pump just took a shit.”

At this point they’re about 30 miles beyond Barstow (and a good 120 miles from home) on Highway 40 with nothing but barren desert in either direction. And without any additional water or any kind of roadside assistance coverage to speak of.

Screwed is right!

After a flurry of phone calls to family, friends, and any two bit towing outfit that would answer the phone at 10 till 5 on the eve of a major holiday weekend we finally get a taker. “No problem,” she says, “We’ll have someone out there in an hour or so.”

Nearly 8 hours (yup…eight hours) and 535 bucks later the truck is dropped off at a shop about 15 miles from our house. The kids are home, and finally everyone can get some desperately needed sleep.


7am the following Monday morning we make the phone call to the repair shop. “Well let’s see,” says the mopey voice on the other end of the line, “Including parts and labor it’s gonna run ya right around 1200 bucks.”

“1200 BUCKS! For a friggin water pump?”

“Well you see on that particular vehicle ya gotta blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All total it’s about an eight hour job.”

“8 HOURS! For a friggin water pump?”

Needless to say we begin calling around to get a few additional estimates, any of which would range from $1000.00 to $1600.00.

And that’s for an aftermarket pump.

So I talk to my buddy Mike who runs the shop where I park my biggie rig, he says they can do it for around 700 bucks.

Somewhat relieved I text Tim at work to give him the welcomed news.

He text’s back.

“You know Dad, I can do this.”

I’m thinkin, “Huh?”

“I’ve been looking into it on the internet,” he continues, “And there’s this guy who’s got this video…”

Now as a caring parent you obviously wanna encourage and support your kids whenever and however you can, right? You certainly don’t want to doubt em, or at least let em know you doubt em.

But the truth is I was having my doubts about this whole thing. I said, “Dude, don’t you think you might be getting in just a little over your head?”

“No,” he replied, “I can do this.”

Later that evening he shows me the video (BTW kudos to this guy for doin this).

Tim tells me the pump’s gonna cost about 80 bucks, that he found the flywheel thingamajig the guy used in the video online for 30 bucks, and that he can rent the fan clutch tool and a 250lb torque wrench from Auto Zone.

“Sure it’s gonna take some time doin it after work and all” he says, “but trust me, I can do this.”

“How are you gonna get to work?” I ask. (My subtle and final stab at trying to talk him out of it)

“I’ll ride my bike or take the bus.”

So, what could I say?

As a father I was proud of the fact that he was willing to try and tackle this on his own (especially since his mom had already offered to kick in on the cost of the repairs).

Still, I had my doubts.


Three days later the truck was up and runnin.

He’d done it:)

Granted the driveway was stained beyond recognition and my typically tidy garage looked like one of those ransacked units on Storage Wars, but hey, he did it. He did what he set out to do, and personally, I couldn’t have been more proud.

Now as an overly proud parent you can’t help but wanna praise your kids for a job well done, right? Well, I must’ve patted Tim on he back a dozen times or more over the next few days.

But the praise was for much more than just fixin his truck. It was for how he got through the entire ordeal without ever losing his cool, and more importantly, his focus.

It was for the way he maintained complete confidence in himself even when those closest to him were obviously siding with the skeptics.

It was for even after all his hard work when that damn pump started leaking again how he never once flinched at the prospect that he might have to do all over again.

Or so we thought. (Fortunately it was just a connector hose that needed to be re-tightened)

This may or may not come as a surprise, but the truth is I’ve never been too hip on all that, “You can do whatever you put your mind to” mambo jumbo.

For what it’s worth I do think we have our limitations.

What I do know, however, is that over the course of the past few days I definitely feel as though I’ve been in the presence of something/someone pretty extraordinary. Call it necessity, call it a sense of purpose or a burning desire to succeed.

Call it what you will. But in the end I believe it was little more than a young man’s need to know for himself whether or not he could do it.

Well, he clearly proved he could.

And as a result we’re all a little richer for it. 

See ya on September 1st, till then, keeep it up.

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