Friday, November 18, 2016

Noticeable November: Back-Whoa!

Continuing with Noticeable November. A little story developed from something I noticed the other day. 

Jennifer E. Miller

On my way home I have to pass a self-service car wash. You know what I mean, right? The kind with multiple drive stalls where you plunk a few quarters in and use a timed sprayer to rinse off your car. For a little extra you can use warm water; a nice feature when it's cold outside. A few more quarters gets you a soapy wash complete with the use of a spinning brush. Dig into your pockets for another handful of coins because you forgot about the final rinse. You're out of change for the air dryer so you drive home quickly to grab towels. Hopefully you get their soon enough to wipe off the water so it doesn't dry into little chicken pox spots. Yeah, one of those places. 

It's not really a place that is out of the ordinary, but what I saw there recently was. A large white dually truck was backing in. That's weird. Why would anyone need to back-in to a wash stall. Its set up is simple: pull forward. Even the automatic car washes have you do that. As I examined the scene more closely, I noticed that the dually was hitched to a platform trailer. On top of the trailer was a large back hoe. I get it now. The back hoe is being pushed into the stall to wash it off. Don't see that everyday. Of course, that thing sits rather tall when on top of the trailer. I'm not sure how anyone of average height is supposed to reach the top of the back hoe with the sprayer and brush. Perhaps the driver was just interested in spraying off the tires.

This is also strange. Is it normal to wash off equipment? Typically, when I pass construction sites after working hours, the tractors are just sitting there soaking in their own dirt and muck. This has got to be one filthy back hoe if it needs a cleaning.

I started thinking about all the reasons to use a back hoe and came up with only one: digging. Okay, how about places: farms, new construction, digging new cable lines, reaching pipes...oh. It hits me. Back hoes are also used to dig up yards to reach a septic tank. Particularly one that has backed up and overflowed. 


Now I get it. This back hoe was most likely used to scoop up and set aside a bunch of shit and is, likewise, smelly. Alright. Starting to make some sense now. If that tractor was rented, then the rental store most likely doesn't want a piece of unsanitary equipment returned to their location. 

As I continued past the self serve car wash, my mind wanders about the poor soul who had to have their septic tank exhumed. I can imagine a stinky mudslide of a mess. Grass dragged out, flower beds overturned, muddy tire tracks on the road as the back hoe was driven up the ramp onto the flatbed trailer. Neighbors are standing at the end of their driveways or on the sidewalks, plugging their noses in disgust.

Finally I pull up to my house. I notice a note taped to the garage door. It reads: "My septic tank lost it. Did the clean up, but now returning the back hoe to the rental store. The smell should only last over the weekend." It was signed: "Joe, next door." Then I take a breath. And wrinkle my nose in disgust.

Copyrighted 2016 by Jennifer E. Miller

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