Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 30, 2013

Traverse City repairman goes 'above and beyond' to save Thanksgiving Day

BY ANNE STANTON astanton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — On Thanksgiving, the Donohue family gave thanks for what they normally take for granted: running water.

And they gave special thanks to Doyle Berg, the man who was able to get their faucets flowing again.

“It was just a really awesome act of kindness for him to come out on Thanksgiving Day,” said Jennifer Donohue, who lives southeast of Traverse City. “Otherwise, we’d have to, I don’t know what we would have done. We wouldn’t have been able to have Thanksgiving dinner at the house.”

On Thanksgiving eve, Donohue’s college-age daughter went to give her a dog a bath and discovered a dry faucet.

Donohue tried the kitchen faucet. Nothing. She eyed the turkey sitting on the counter, wondering how she would rinse it. Then she thought of her six horses and went to the barn. No water there, either. She pondered the prospect of hauling in gallons and gallons of water on Thanksgiving Day.

“We took out the phone book and started calling down the list of all the well people,” she said. “It was after five already. No one called us back. I kept thinking, ‘We have a huge crowd coming for Thanksgiving. Oh my God, what are we going to do without water?’”

Jennifer called in her brother and a jack-of-all-trades friend to give her husband a hand at identifying the problem. Together they looked at the control panel of the well and identified a “fried” electrical part, but realized it was highly unlikely they’d find it that night.

Donohue began joking that Thanksgiving would be just like a camping trip.

“We’d use melted snow, and boil the water to wash the dishes. My daughters said, ‘Mom, really?’” Jennifer said.

Jennifer resorted to the phone book again, but this time called Berg Well Drilling and hit a real person. The needed part was in stock at his Traverse City shop, Berg told her, and she could pick it up that night.

“When I was there, I noticed on the office wall there were different pictures of the five generations of his family, and his grandson was there, a teenager,” she said. “It was cool, the family thing.”

Berg told her that his grandson is the fifth generation to work for the company, which first opened its doors in 1928.

Donohue returned home with the part, but it turned out the water still wouldn’t flow — a second component was also completely fried, most likely zapped by lightning.

After some hesitation, she called Berg again. He promised her she could pick up the part in the morning. But he did better than that. When he called the next morning, he offered to come out to the house.

“In less than 20 minutes he was here,” Jennifer said. “Like an Energizer bunny, he goes downstairs. He’s in his 70s, kneels on the ground, and torques himself back in there. I said, ‘Are you okay?’ He said, ‘No problem, I can do this.’”

On top of that, he charged only $25 for a new part and a minimal charge for coming out on Thanksgiving Day, she said.

As family members gushed their thanks, Berg humbly explained it was just part of the job.

“He told us, ‘I’m just glad you can have Thanksgiving dinner now,’” Jennifer said. “You don’t see service like that. That was above and beyond.”

Berg later told the Record-Eagle that he related to the family’s water problem.

“I’ve drilled wells in Haiti for the last 10, 15 years. My son is a pastor and I help him down there. You talk about being blessed in America, we are blessed,” he said.

Berg explained he’s in the service business, and it’s what his family has always done. But his desire to help also comes from a spiritual place.

“It’s more than just a job, no doubt about it,” he said.