The Sound of Water, Alaskan Banter


In many parts of the giant icy prison that is Alaska, the inmates are forced to collect water from pump stations in town before hauling it away in tanks and jugs to their ragged homes, where there is no running or drinkable water.

If it sounds like a daunting and tiresome operation to have to undertake regularly, you have it all wrong, friend. Hauling your water is as easy 1, 2, 3.98572050201049{syntax err}! Here’s a quick how-to guide in case you find yourself in need of a sip or a dunk.

Put your back into it.
First, you need to look the part. Back your rig (are you not driving a rig? You have to have a “rig” otherwise many bearded men will cut you down with their rueful gaze) to one of the four pumps. Even though for our purposes we’ll just be filling 6 or so 6-gallon jugs, go ahead and accidentally back up to one of the “high-pressure” nozzles. Make sure to loudly announce that it was your intention. These are used to fill enormous tanks for hundreds of gallons quickly, so trying to use it on your tiny containers will make you feel strong man or woman, or possibly neither if you don’t subscribe to gender binary.

Dress for success.
I have not yet discovered a way to fill your water jugs from the comfort of a vehicle, (Note to self: Fill the entire car with the water??) so an important step is, of course, dressing appropriately. Since it will likely be -20 degrees, the ground near the pumps will be solid ice, and the air will be challenging to breathe. I recommend losing one of your gloves en route to the pumps. This will ensure that any skin that contacts the metal nozzle will burn intensely, or maybe even get stuck to the cold metal. Make sure shoes were purchased for less than $10.00 to ensure that any water that splashes out immediately penetrates and soaks your socks, quickly helping you lose feeling in your feet.

Jug placement.
If you want to really make the most of your time using what is basically a firehose to fill a small bucket, you’ll want to go ahead and just spread your containers out with no particular rhyme or reason. This will help maximize the time you’ll be able to spend filling, tripping over yourself, knocking over half-full containers, and panicking as you notice basic cognitive functions atrophy from the cold.
Protip: Go ahead and just take off all of the screw-on caps to your containers and leave them wherever, so when you do finally finish, you’ll set yourself up for a nice scavenger hunt in the dark.

Powers activate.
Since you’ll want to be wearing gloves, I like to go ahead and set the quarter I’ll use to activate the machine on a small ledge in front of the coin slot while I put my one glove on. If you’ve been following my instructions you should now be knocking all of your containers over and struggling to stay upright as you realize the quarter is frozen to the ledge after just a few seconds. Go ahead and find a rock or stick to chisel it loose. Once you drop it in the coin slot, you’ll know you’re ready because the nozzle will jerk up like a snake getting ready to strike you.

Fill ‘er up!
With your well-laid plans, go ahead and pull that massive nozzle out of the holster. You may even want to give it a little test-pull to make sure it works. It should cause the nozzle to fly out of your hand getting a little icy water to spray over your face and with luck, and any number of locals should approach and ask if you “are okay?”. You are okay, (or at least you’re too proud to admit otherwise) and you might consider giving them a playful spritz in the face. If this does not please them, consider spraying them more forcefully. You might also shout “Who else wants to know if I’m okay?” to n0 one at all.

So the first thing you’ll notice is that they designed the nozzle to exactly almost fit into the containers you bought, but not quite. It should barely fit inside the opening, but it will leave a small enough gap that it forces small amounts of water to spray out at high-pressure, soaking you fairly quickly. Once you’re standing over a container with the nozzle like you’re trying to pin down a bear, go ahead and give the trigger a squeeze. Most nozzles only have a small trickle setting as you pull the trigger. Give it a bit more “gas” until the nozzle feels like an aggressive badger trying to escape your grasp. If done right, the pressure and tumult of the water should render the total water in the container so unreadable that you’ll either stop and realize it has only filled about 2% of the container, or you’ll suddenly break the dam as gallons of water come shooting out of an already-full container. You should be thoroughly soaked, your pants sopping wet. Ideally, your exposed hand is now losing feeling and your gloves hand is also getting wet. Only 5 more containers to go!

Wrapping up.
Once you have all your containers filled using my method, go ahead and start trying to find the lids for all of them. Many of them should have been jettisoned off into the snow by your nozzle misfires, and they will now be caked with fast-freezing water, so they won’t really fit on the containers very well. Just try over and over to screw them on until it’s clear that you’re shaving time off your life by continuing this charade.

Heavy lifting.
Now you should have 5-6 containers full of great Alaskan water. Go ahead and lift them into the back of your rig. You should be so tired and defeated now that it take everything you have just to eek them over the side of the truck and into the bed. You should notice that some of the opaque containers you have are actually only about 1/2 full, because you had no idea what you were doing. Just go ahead and shamefully and wearily throw it in the back and hope nobody notices what a waste of time that was, because you’re definitely not turning that wretched machine back on.
If possible, catch the gaze of very very hardy Alaskans and make unbidden proclamations about how easy this task was, how light the containers feel, or how strong “we Alaskans are, am I right?”.
Protip: If possible, live in a building where it is necessary to carry the containers through the snow and then up three flights of stairs to the top floor. This will ensure you sleep well and dream only of hauling water.

In summation.
Water-hauling in Alaska can be fun! We’ve only scratched the surface today, but by practicing some of these tips, you’re sure to wow the locals and turn heads at the hospital when you arrive for the third time in a week! Happy hauling!

One thought on “24 Hour Water Stations: Trial By Water

  1. Thanks for bringing a smile to this old mans face… as I sit here in 70^ weather with water on demand like any civilized human. However for 20 years I too spent my winters slipping around the water wagons in Fairbanks and I can attest to the truth of your words.


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