Friday, May 14, 2010

Dirty jobs

There are some tasks involved in farming — and parenting, for that matter — that most people would classify as gross. I won't go into any detail here because I just finished my breakfast and maybe you have, too. Although I've long been immune to the grossness of these jobs, as most farmers and parents are, they don't need to be described in words.

A couple tasks in the past two weeks here have had me thinking about other professions' dirty jobs. I have to hand it to plumbers; some of their service calls have to be downright cringe-worthy. After listening to my sister explain the impaired function of their bathtub drain and then experiencing it for myself, I took care of the problem for her by simply removing the drain guard and cleaning out the yuck. Yuck that, she said, hadn't once been cleaned out since she moved there. She was gagging. I was fine. Maybe my stomach has been hardened by years of farming.

As it often goes, since I'd chided her for lack of drain maintenance and told her to get a drain guard that would actually catch her long hair, wouldn't you know it but we had drain trouble just a few days after returning home. All of a sudden one morning, the water in our kitchen sink started rising instead of draining. Pretty soon, I could see the water rising up in the other basin. Trap trouble, I deduced. I planned to take care of the problem after my meeting that day, but Glen beat me to it. (Aw, shucks!) The trap, he reported, was plugged up with no less than six drinking straws and all of the kitchen sink yuck that got caught on top of them. No more straws in the sink, we decided. Now if we can only get Dan to oblige.

I figured that had to be it for dirty jobs for a while, at least in the house, but the dryer proved me wrong. While a load was drying, the dryer vent ductwork came apart. Lint was spewed all over the basement, but that didn't bother me as much as all of the lint that was stuck inside the duct. I'm guessing it had to be decades worth. Since the duct was half apart already and in dire need to de-gunking, we took the opportunity to give it a good cleaning. We shop-vac'ed out the duct and then Glen reached into the back of the dryer to remove the deposits of lint trapped there. He pulled out fistfuls while I vacuumed them up. One of the fistfuls didn't go through the nozzle so I tried to break it up a little, only to discover exactly why it wouldn't pass through. It was the desiccated carcass of a house mouse all mummified in lint. Hmmm... How long had he been there? Was this mouse a former pet or an uninvited guest? Either way, knowing that mouse came out of our dryer gave me the willies. Maybe HVAC and appliance repair professionals deserve some credit for the dirty jobs they encounter, too.

I think I'll go out to the barn now. At least the dirty jobs out there are routine and expected.

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