Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slaugtherhouse Diaries . . .

. . . I was working the Special Projects Crew. Half of my day was spent in a shed with rouge engineers fixing equipment I'd never even heard of. After lunch, I took a truck around to the eight manholes on and around the packing plant. The truck was equipped with several hundred feet of hose attached to a three-thousand dollar stainless-steel head that I was warned could chip teeth. In the day-to-day operations of a slaughterhouse, a lot of weird shit finds it's way into the sewage system. Bones,intestinal lining, and even the occasional fetus. (In the event of a fetus, the still-born calf was to be taken to the plant physician so it could be re-sold to a pharmaceutical company.) My afternoon duties were to go to each manhole, lower the hose, and break free any obstructions that may be developing. Retrieving the hose was something of a task. To fully break-up any clogs, the water had to be running while the hose was reeled back in. The trick was to shut off the water at the exact same moment the head was reaching the ground level, otherwise you'd get slammed by the stream, and showered in the sewer backwash.

It was my third day on this assignment. It was fairly simple. Drop the line. Sit in the cab for ten minutes. Retrieve. Repeat. I was working Sewer 1, located at the northern most point of the facility. The line was being reeled back in, when it suddenly stopped, jerking the truck back. I re-fed the line with the intention of quickly pulling it back, working the head past the obstruction. It worked, but I had to keep this routine up, even as the head neared daylight.

The line was receding back into the truck. It encountered one last obstruction. I approached the manhole to see how far the head was from the surface. I peered down the opening just as the freed blockage was being propelled upwards by the jets of the head. Sewage covered my entire upper-body.

I killed the motor and cleaned my mouth with a work glove. A guy on a forklift pulled up. "Hey, kid. I use to do to do your job. There's one thing you got to remember. When it's in the ground, it's sewage. When it's on your face, it's shit."

I continued to wipe the sewage . . . shit from my eyes. The guy stepped out of his forklift and looked off in the distance.

"So Sewer six, seven, and eight feed in from the kill floor. Three, four, five from rendering. One doesn't feed in from the plant." He pointed past the chain link fence, to a building on the hill.

"Sewer One feeds in from the prison."

I was covered in prisoner shit.

1 comment:

lanny said...

Of all the Angel stories there are out there this one has always been my favorite.