Life Lessons

That time we almost died from contaminated drinking water

For the best experience, always check to see what’s in your water

Everyone needs clean water. And we all expect to get clean water, especially if you are a soldier and approach a “water buffalo” that has the word “potable” clearly stamped on the side. (A water buffalo is just a big portable metal tank with clean drinking water.)


They give soldiers and Boy Scouts (or anyone really) access to clean water out in the middle of nowhere. But someone has to clean it out occasionally and refill it and transport it back to the middle of nowhere.

So, once upon a time captain and his soldiers were out in the middle of Camp Shelby, Mississippi. They’d been walking in the south Mississippi woods for hours and had understandably depleted their own supply of water.

Hot, muggy, tired — you get the picture.

And like a scene from Lawrence of Arabia, they spot a water buffalo in the distance.

So, these thirsty soldiers approach the docile water buffalo and are happy to find that it’s full of water. The rush is on to fill empty canteens and camelbacks.

They drink without hesitation because it clearly says that’s it’s drinkable water.

Life is good. The soldiers are hydrated again.

But, the Army Captain is wise and, after a minute or so of the excitement of water, notices that the lid to the water buffalo is not securely shut.

Cue the scary music.

Ruminate on that fact for a minute, okay.

The captain climbs on top of the water buffalo, opens the lid, and immediately starts yelling to his soldiers to stop drinking the water.

“Pour the water out,” he shouts.

He shouts again to pour the water out. The Soldiers comply with his instructions.

On cue, he reaches down and pulls out a raccoon.

Let’s summarize: A thirsty raccoon has found the lid to a water buffalo open. Like all raccoons, he assumed that the water was meant for him. Unfortunately for him, having no opposable thumbs or ladder to make his way out.

Unable to secure his escape, he drowned.

In the “drinkable” water.


So, if you’re ever in the middle of nowhere and come across a water buffalo, check and make sure the lid is closed and has been closed since someone cleaned and refilled said water buffalo before you partake of the water.

Paul Swann is a dad, husband to a Russian Princess, lawyer, legal instructor, writer, and occasional guitar player. He spends his time in Arkansas with his aforementioned Princess Bride, Two Stunning Daughters, and two ne’er-do-well dogs. You may find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or his Medium Page.

Satire, humor, Russia, and life lessons. I’m a dad, husband, and writer.

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