the septic tank story
March 25, 2009
Telling this story is oddly a bit recursive to me. See, Sunday I was teaching a class about teaching classes, and in the part where I mention that to properly prepare for teaching, one should be constantly writing down ideas, like Seinfeld when he wakes up in the middle of the night to write down a funny idea but in the morning can’t figure out what he wrote down, I told the class about how I write blog ideas in my iPhone, and I even highlighted how the other day Brad told me that I should tell the septic tank story.
I’m sure none of you have noticed that I have trouble getting to the point. I tend to write mostly to amuse myself, and I’m easily amused. I apologize if you have the attention span of, say, Brad, and can only read one paragraph a day. Hi Brad!
So now, of course, I have to tell the septic tank story. In my own, rambling way. If you want to just cut to the chase, here it is: we had a septic tank once, it was gross, got clogged up, and was fixed in a way that was even grosser. Now be free, go browse on todaysbigthing.com. It’s generally awesome.
A year or so after Kim and I got married, we rented a tiny, weather-beaten, crappy old house in the Provo riverbottoms. The riverbottoms were and are generally a pretty swanky area, but like many swanky areas, the riverbottoms have their old dirt farmer holdouts. Our little pink house (yes, really, it was pink) sat in a weed infested, dirt driveway lot amongst several million dollar McMansions.
On the south side of the house lived some other holdouts who had a horse and a whole bunch of geese. I had never before, nor have I since heard of or seen anybody who kept a few dozen geese as if they were chickens. And, it turns out, I have a story about how a few of those geese had their spectacular geese lives cut tragically short.
But not today. Today I’m talking about the septic tank.
On the other side of the house our “yard” abutted the horse pasture that served as the front yard of a beautiful McMansion.
In our pink house, the furnace was really just a space heater jammed into the wall between the kitchen and the front room, except it wasn’t quiet like space heater–rather, it was quiet like a monster truck show.
Anyway, my point is, the facilities were, to say the least, sub-standard. For example, instead of being on the city sewer system, our house was old enough to be grandfather-claused into legally having a septic tank, even though we lived a stone’s throw from the Provo river.
Like the rest of the stuff in the house, our septic tank was also a bit defective. As in it would back up regularly. We would know this because when we let our Siberian Husky come inside from the back “yard” he would reek of raw sewage. And even though we’re not dogs, and we don’t readily recognize the individual scents in sewage, we had a feeling the sewage was ours.
Because the sewage was filling the back “yard” as it came up through the valves of the septic tank shallowly buried back there.
Of course, we called the landlord. And eventually he came out to take a look. He surveyed the damage, and assured us he would “take care of it.”
We expected him to call the city and get us onto the grid. Or at least to dig up the septic tank and put in a new one.
Instead, he sauntered out to his truck, put on some big rubber boots, some gloves and got a long hose and hauled it back to the tank. He waded into the lake of effluvium, removed the cover to the tank, dropped one end of the hose inside, and grabbed the other end.
“Where?” That’s what you’re asking yourself, right? WHERE would he dump it?
Well, into the small horse pasture next door of course. He simply walked over to the fence, and I kid you not, sucked on the end of the hose for a second to get it started, and siphoned the contents of our septic tank into our neighbor’s yard.
It took over a week for the smell to go away. And our neighbors never said a word. I guess effluvium is effluvium.
Oh Hell, who am I kidding? Effluvium is NOT effluvium. Human effluvium is different. Special. And do you think I can ever get the image of him with his lips around that hose out of my head? NO. No I can’t.
That house is still there. I think it’s gray now.