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Prime the pump

The following letter was found in a baking powder can wired to the handle of an old pump that offered the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom-used trail across the Amargosa Desert:

“This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock I buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and cork end up. There’s enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll git water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you git watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next feller.” – Desert Pete

“P.S. Don’t go drinking up the water first. Prime the pump with it and you’ll get all you can hold.”

If you were a lonely traveler shuffling down that parched desert trail with your canteen bone dry, would you trust this guy, Desert Pete? For all you know he is a lunatic. What if it a mad hoax? There are no guarantees to what he claims is true. And what would motivate you to prime the pump with the water in the bottle, perhaps the only water available. But you understand the fact that old pumps have to be primed. It’s a gamble. A risk. An adventure. What do you do?

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