Coffee and Sewers

I love coffee. Very much. I didn’t know this as a kid but learned it out of necessity from one of my summer jobs.  I worked for a company that cleaned sewer lines. You sometimes see them along a rural road or in town, with trucks on both ends of two manholes leading to the sewer line. They’re usually cleaning the line, and I was fortunate to be a part of that!

Our contract was in Manheim, and we operated out of Carlisle. That meant an hour drive every morning. On one trip, my partner that day stopped at a convenience store for coffee, came back to the van, left his coffee and went back in for something else. I was tired. He wasn’t there. His coffee was. So, I indulged. I didn’t really like it, but I began forcing myself to chug a cool cup every morning thereafter. Eventually, I acquired the taste, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Back to the sewer cleaning. There’s a point to this.

Besides cleaning sewer lines, we also patched manholes in residential areas. Neighborhoods.  One day, we were in a residential development setting up to patch some manholes. Protocol says to wear a raincoat upon entering the manhole and to plug all incoming lines. I remembered one part of the protocol -the raincoat. Much to my dismay, I forgot to plug the lines, and one decided to become very active. Creates a good picture, doesn’t it? There I was patching up a spot, when I heard a disparaging sound, immediately understanding what it was.  And yes, it erupted all over me. Thankfully, I had the raincoat on, but that’s hardly reassuring when a local resident is flushing all over me.

My buddy was above ground, rolling around and laughing profusely.  Exciting times.

The lesson. Well, two of them.  First, even the most challenging jobs can give you good stories. And second, always find the good.  For me, if it weren’t for this job, I may not have discovered coffee. Well worth it!

What difficult jobs have you had? What did you learn? What can you take away? How could you see it differently?  Are you in one right now? Can you find the good?