Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Humiliations and General Grossness (Part 1)

One of the most humiliating experiences I can imagine is to take a huge dump in the front yard and then invite someone over to have a look at it. It's just not something that is ever done. Even more humiliating and nonsensical, though, would be to then ask them to dispose of it for you. As unbelievable a scenario as this is, it's exactly what I did today, only several thousand times worse.

Let me back up.

We're in the process of getting our house ready to sell. Don't get me wrong, we love our house and would not want to sell it at all, except that certain opportunities have presented themselves and we are pursuing them. (I'm sure I'll have more on that in future posts.) As part of this process, we've been going down the list of home improvement projects we've intended to accomplish for the four years we've lived here and have been finally getting to some of them while consigning others to the "let the new owners do it" heap. Thusly, we finally had the automatic garage door opener on my side of the garage replaced, redid the hall bathroom--though not the complete overhaul we'd planned--regrouted some places in the master bath tub, finally painted another bit of the master bath that we'd intended to completely remodel and had left the old color up so we wouldn't have to paint it twice, etc. Other items, however, were added to the list out of the blue.

"We should call someone to come clean out the septic tank," the wife said over breakfast. I'd already been thinking about that, oddly enough--not because of breakfast but because a cleaning of the poo tank was probably due. According to the paperwork we'd received with the house, the last time it had been cleaned was the year prior to us moving in. So if you figure once every 3-5 years being the norm for emptying a poo tank (according to some standards), it was about time. The thing is, I've never lived in a place with a septic system before. We also had no real clue as to where the tank was located for most of our time in the house. We deduced it was somewhere in the front yard, because that was the direction in which our poo pipe ran from beneath our house, but we were not at all sure where exactly the tank was buried. Our upper front yard has a lot of trees, so it seemed like it would have to be located in between some of them, which didn't leave a lot of room for a 1000 gallon concrete tank.

During our troubles with the well a few months ago, I had to spend some time on the phone with the health department to try and determine when our well was dug. While I was on there, I asked if they had records of the septic tank's installation and, hopefully, location. They faxed over two diagrams, one for the proposed tank and drainage field location and one for the inspected tank and drainage field location. These diagrams showed different locations for the tank, but I figured the inspected one was correct. However, this put the tank somewhere outside my office window, with the drainage field further down into the yard. I didn't do any digging to check, but figured that would be where I'd have to direct any poo removal specialists when that day came.

That day was today.

The poo removal specialists arrived around midday and were soon awash in the oh-so-vicious barks of Sadiemoose (the collective name for our two dogs Sadie and Moose). While the dogs snarled and slavered from behind the front window glass, I went out to meet the poo removal specialists carrying with me the aforementioned poo tank diagram. I explained to them our lack of knowledge about the poo tank's location, but proposed they check where the diagram showed.

"Has it been backing up on you at all?" Terrance the poo tank man asked.

"No, not at all," I said. "We just want to get it cleared before we sell it."

Terrance and his poo tank assistant then walked out to the area in front of my office window and poked the ground with a pointy metal pole for a while in the clearing in front of the two pine trees planted there. They made their way around the clearing, then back up between the trees near the house, then back down a way. There were occasional thunks as the pole struck either concrete or rock. Still, several minutes passed this way with no real consensus between the men as to where digging should commence.

Terrance took something plastic and orange from his pocket and handed it to me.

"Could you go inside and flush this twice?" he said. I looked at the plastic device. It was about the size of a flattened golf ball, but had a slot along one side within which I could see a small metal disc, about the size of a thick watch battery. By "flush this twice" I knew he meant, flush the tracker down, then flush the toilet again to send it on through into the tank. So I went inside and did this. When I came back, Terrance had produced what looked like a metal detector handle minus the pole and detecting disc. He aimed it at the ground until he found where it seemed to be the loudest, which was beside and beneath some of the limbs of one of the pine trees. They stabbed the pole down once more and struck something solid.

Digging began, hampered a bit by the limbs of the tree.

"That tree's in a bad location," Terrance said. His point was that with the tank being as close to the tree as it was, there would be root problems eventually if not already. They might not make it through the concrete tank, but roots could certainly bore into the septic pipe leading into the tank and gum up the works. He recommended the tree be taken out.

Within 20 minutes a foot and a half deep pit was dug out and the upper surface of a section of the concrete poo tank was exposed. There was a rectangular concrete plug in the top of the tank with a rebar hook embedded in it. They looped some chain through that hook and then lifted the whole thing off. And exposed there before us were the gates of hell itself.

I will not go into detail as to what the gates of hell look like in this case, but I will say that the gates were hellishly FULL. To the brim even. I will also not describe the smell, which you already have a pretty good idea about I'm sure. What I will say, though, is that having four years worth of one's own... um... leavings, exposed to strangers is a VERY embarrassing experience, even if it is the job of those very strangers to view and smell such leavings on a daily basis. I wanted to apologize and run away and issue denials all at the same time. But there was just no denying what we were all looking at and smelling, nor which of us had produced a goodly portion of it.

"Looks like we got here just in time," Terrance said. Then he and his poo tank assistant went back to their poo truck. Soon poo hoses were hooked up and stretched across the yard and into the gates of hell. The powerful poo pumps on the poo truck soon began to make quick work of their 1000 gallons worth of burden. And Terrance stood by with a giant poo rake to help the process along. He seemed pretty skilled with that rake, and was able to use it to retrieve his orange radio tracker, which he then tossed to his assistant. Made me wonder exactly how clean that thing had been before it had been handed to me earlier.

"I been doin this a couple days," Terrance said with a grin. "Thirty five years, actually," he added.

"Wow," I said. "What's the strangest thing you've pulled out of one of these?"

"A dead body," he said. Then he grinned again and said "Not really."

But he then told a story that was nearly as good.


1 comment:

chaniarts said...

Ummm, you do know that tanks are supposed to be full? they have internal baffles to keep the solids in one part of the tank, the liquid goes to the other part of the tank and thus out to the field.