MARTY RUSSELL: A day without water at least needs warning

By Marty Russell/NEMS Daily Journal

I don’t pretend to know how all of those Haitians and Chileans felt going days and even weeks without water recently in the wake of the earthquakes but I did get a taste, so to speak, on Monday when I spent an entire day without water at my house.
The day started normally enough. My wife got up and got ready for work as usual because she’s a normal person who essentially works 8 to 5. Me, being the abnormal one, gets to sleep a little later. She showered, got dressed and headed off to work while I rolled over, looked at the clock and decided maybe I should get up and start getting ready myself.
So I stumbled into the bathroom and prepared to shave two days’ growth of beard off my face because there’s a clause in man law that says you’re not required to shave on the weekend. But when I turned on the faucet, nothing but air came out. Having just woken up, this took a moment to process. Let’s see, air and water are two of the four basic elements so maybe I turned on the air faucet by mistake or maybe the lines got switched. Since fire and earth are the two other basic elements, I decided it was probably best not to try the toilet.
So I went around to all the other faucets in the house and got the same response, just a sigh of air leaking out of the pipes. My first thought was like most people’s – did I remember to pay the water bill? But then I remembered I did remember because last month’s bill was double what it normally is after we left water dripping most of February to keep the pipes from freezing.
Now I was starting to get angry because I had no water and it wasn’t my fault. I called the neighbors to make sure I hadn’t been singled out. Nope, they had no water also nor any clue as to what happened to it. So I called my water association – at least five times – and each time got an answering machine asking me to leave a message. I decided I’d better not in my water-deprived state.
So for the entire day I couldn’t shave, take a shower, flush the toilet, wash dishes, wash clothes, put water in the pets’ bowls or even brush my teeth. Turns out the only liquid I had in the house was beer and while I like beer, it just doesn’t work for brushing your teeth with at 9 o’clock in the morning.
The water stayed off until 7 p.m. Monday. I have yet to hear from the water association about why and, judging from the color of it when it came back on, I’m boiling it just as a precaution although no word on that either. Wouldn’t it be nice if utility companies gave customers advance notice of something like this or, in an emergency, phoned or e-mailed their customers to let them know what the problem was and when it might be fixed?
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at

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