Those Unsung Heroes

Every city in the world has them. They are people who work behind the scenes helping modern society function. We take them for granted, we don’t even think about these unsung heroes of the world.  Who are these people? you ask.  Are they the bus drivers, the train drivers; the garbage workers? The police officers, perhaps,  patrolling the streets and fighting crime. Then again it could be the city’s  firefighters, saving folks from burning buildings and the like.  All of these city workers are valuable and do a fantastic job. But there is one group of workers in every city that pretty much never gets recognition for what they have to do. I am, of course, referring to the sewage worker. Those workers that don various types of clothing, arm themselves with flashlights, wrenches and screwdrivers and climb down that round thing in the middle of the road. It appears that this particular job is dominated by men, which explains why PC hasn’t forced a name change from “man-hole cover”  to something like – “person-hole cover”.

So, there he is, Josh the sewage-man. He works below ground – way below – deeper than the subway. He wears long rubber boots, liquid-resistant clothing, a gas-mask and a helmet with a strong flashlight built into the front, sits on top of his head. Around his waist is a utility belt carrying every tool known to the human race. Josh sloggs through a river of human excrement, the fresh and the not so fresh, the diarrhea and the standard. He sees various animals down there as well, the sewer-rat for instance, fat grey rodents, almost the size of cats, with long, thick tails. These disgusting creatures don’t run or scurry away when Josh approaches, they pay him no mind and continue munching on something pulled out of the “river”. Josh has radio contact with his partner – who is moving in the opposite direction – and the two of them keep up the banter as they search for that faulty pump. The smell is over-powering and Josh knows if he were to remove the gas-mask he would not survive. He finally comes across the problem pump. “Jack, I’ve found the faulty pump, damn things’ blown three gaskets and sucking air instead of shit.”

“I hear ya, Josh, what’s the pump number?”

Josh wipes filth from the stenciled number on the side. “7326-B72, you copy that?”

“Copy that. Jeez, that’s right under the stock-exchange.”

“Figures. Those guys shit themselves dozens of times a day.”

Jack laughs, “I’m on my way to give you hand, ten minutes max, copy?”

“Copy that.” Josh shuts down the pump, to his left fresh crap unloads into the sewer as someone up above had just flushed.

Ten minutes pass and Jack moves up and stands beside his partner. The two men begin to dismantle the pump. Rats as well as other creepy-crawlers run by chasing new “food” which has just entered this secret world.

“We’re gonna have to tell those fuckers up there to stop flushing for thirty minutes so that we can prime this pump,” says Jack into the radio.

Josh nods and switches the transponder, ” Kirkland to base–over.” Silence greets Josh. He repeats. “Kirkland to base–over.”

“Base. Go ahead Josh.”

“Base, you’re gonna have to have those Wall Street types, tie a knot in their dicks or cork themselves for thirty minutes until we’ve primed this pump–over”

Sitting in a city sewer truck in mid-town New York, the radio dispatcher,  laughs. “Understood, Josh. Problem fixed?”

 “Yep, Jack is just sealing off the last gasket now, as soon as you tell me no one is going to shit, pee or fart, we’ll prime the pump–over.”

“Will do, stand by.”

 Jack and Josh lean on the silent pump waiting for the call back. The two men gaze down at what they are standing in.

“Jeez Jack, look at that! Some lady’s surf-board, flushed down the john…shit!”

Jack laughs, “Yeah. Why the hell do they do that? It’s the Tampax and other crap that some of these women shove down the shitter that screws up these pumps.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t matter how many times you tell people not to throw foreign materials down the toilet – people still do it.”

The radio crackles. “Base to Kirkland–over”

“Yep, go ahead base.”

“For the next thirty minutes, the stressed Stockbrokers upstairs, will be either constipated or pissing into coke bottles. You guys can prime the pump when you’re ready.”

“Copy that, base. Priming now.”

Thirty minutes later the pump is functioning. Josh and Jack watch as new reconditioned pump handles a sudden surge of activity, as the toilets in the building high above  re-open.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Betty Chatterjee
    Jan 27, 2010 @ 17:15:13

    Yes Ian, quite right too. It’s when sewers get clogged etc, we really notice the problem.


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