Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our sewers, ourselves

It's a little-known fact (probably because I just made it up) that Ralph Kramden was named for Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote essays on self-reliance and such.  Our fifth-grade teacher made us rewrite Emerson essays as punishments, in lieu of the tradition of writing "I shall not perform distasteful dance steps when Coach Apicella makes us square dance in phys ed" a hundred times.

Ralph Kramden was the central character in The Honeymooners, the great sitcom of the great Jackie Gleason back in the great days of television. Ralph drove a city bus; his buddy Ed Norton worked in the sewers.  But I'm certain that Norton was never part of this...

Modern Science now has the ability to take a spoonful of sewer water and test an entire city for drug use. As many a nervous job applicant with his pants in one hand and an empty specimen cup in the other has fretted, certain biomarkers are left behind in one's waste matter after one ingests certain drugs.

This testing is an important step forward, I guess, if you're out to test for such trends, but could there be a more yucky job?  Whether you're the person reaching down for a  jug o' sewer slop, or the one in a lab coat actually performing the test, you have to wonder: is this why I went to school and studied so hard?

And working in the wastewater treatment plant is no picnic either (figuratively or literally).  Working in the factory where they make cat food, being a hot-tar roofer or a penguin guano remover...none of these hold appeal for me.

I know that many people have these jobs and some might even enjoy them.  I am just glad that someone does them, so I don't have to!

So far, that is.

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