For some reason, this fantastic story just popped into my head this afternoon and I knew I had to share it with the blogosphere. Cuz it’s priceless, folks, it really is.
So between first and second year university, and then between second and third year university, I had a job working for the City of Saskatoon (yes, though many of you will argue, Saskatoon is indeed a city). I got this job because my Dad knew people. Yeah, it was one of those prestigious ‘don’t bother applying, cuz you have to be an insider to get this one’ kind of jobs.
I went for the interview at City Hall. I even wore a skirt. I razzled, I dazzled, I did a little jig (no I didn’t, but it sounded funny), and the next morning at 7:30 AM (?!) I got a call. I mumbled something that sounded like ‘Hello?’ into the phone in my half-asleep stupor, only to find out that I had gotten the job!! I was now an employee at the City of Saskatoon’s Wastewater Treatment and Pollution Prevention Plant.
The what now, you ask? The Shit Plant. Yeeeeeaaaaahhhh. As in, when you flushed your toilet, I was standing in hip waders at the other end to greet it!
Anyhow, I have several (hundred) stories from that place that I could share, but I’ll stick to just one right now. It was the last day of my first summer there. I came into the main building (the only one that didn’t have some form of human waste/other fun things that go down drains running through it) to eat my lunch. I headed into the lunchroom, and thought I smelt something. Now, this was obviously not anything out of the norm, but this smell was……unusual. Plus, being the admin building, there shouldn’t have been any smells in there to begin with. There should have been no source of a smell.
I ignored it, but as more and more people came into the lunchroom, everyone kind of started sniffing the air in a more-displeased manner than normal. Eventually, it got too overpowering to bear. You can imagine how terribly this must have smelled, since a group of people all too accustomed to the stink of poo were being grossed out to the point of needing to stop eating.
We started walking around the building, noses up and sniffing. We were getting closer and closer to the smell. We eventually determined it was coming from down the stairs that connected to the maze of tunnels which ran underneath the entire compound.
This was no good. If it was coming from the tunnels, then theoretically it could be coming in from any of the seven other buildings. Some of those buildings were particularly disgusting. They even had disgusting names: The Digester, The Scum Gallery, The Settling Basins, The Clarifiers, The Grit & Screen……you get the idea.
So, a group of about 10 of us are huddled in this very smelly staircase, staring ominously at the steel door in front of us.
Some brave soul pushed the door open, and…………..Oh. Holy. Jesus.
I stepped through the door. I looked to my right, as my nose had quite easily determined that this was the origin of the stench.
Coming at me was a fucking RIVER of shit. Like, pure, untreated, not even gone through the first stages of processing POOP. Raw. Raaaawwwwwwww.
There were gutters on both sides of the tunnel, which were overflowing. There was a door leading into the other building and thank God it was closed. But at the top of the wall, blowing heat out (as this was the Boiler room) were two fans which were doing their job.
Turns out, on the other side of the door, one of the pipes had blown a leak. The shit was flying out of the pipe, toward the door, and then being propelled toward us at high speeds thanks to the fans at the end of the tunnel. Anything that didn’t hit the fan was running along the ground, courtesy of the gutters designed for just this situation.
One guy, with an Argentinian accent goes, “Boy! The shit really hit the fan today!”
Okay, so this river of raw shit (which more than 200,000 people contributed to) was encroaching very very quickly down the tunnel hallway, and the gutters were useless. The drains were clogged, and it was obvious that it was quickly going to fill the hall. In my horrified brilliance (no, seriously, this was smart on my behalf), I remembered that there were empty canvas bags in the back of one of the trucks.
Me: “I’ll go make sandbags out back! That way, we can contain it!”
Brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant. No way I’m standing there, having raw sewage being splattered into my face at high speeds. Noooo thank you. Before anyone could stop me, I bolted up the stairs, jumped into the trunk and drove out to the dunes at the back end of the property. I really did make some sandbags, and I really did take them down there. By the time I got down to the tunnel, someone had patched the pipe, so shit was no longer airborne due to the fans. Also by the time I’d come back with the sandbags, someone else had unplugged the drains and the poo was emptying out of the hallway quite nicely.
This was excellent. My plan had worked out perfectly. I had let everybody else deal with the mess, while I looked like I cared. I also learned to never investigate a suspicious smell again. I also learned that one should always make sure that the drains are clean and unclogged.
Oh, I’m no fool. Even though I had a gross job, I knew when enough was enough.
Lesson here? When the shit hits the fan, Talea is GONE.
Second lesson here? When you think your job is bad, at least you aren’t dodging human waste that’s flying at your head.
P.S. Despite that being one of the nastiest things I have ever experienced, I went back and worked there for another full summer; itself full of fun, yummy stories.