10 Percent Bigger

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Shovel 15 tons, and whadda ya get ..."

I used to sing this song everyday. Specifically while I was shoveling burned dirt out from under a stacker. That is, burned wet dirt. You see, I took a year off between highschool and college.

You may ask yourself, "Why did I take this time off? Did he see the world?" No. "Paint a picture or build something?" Nope. I did it for one simple fact. I was broke. Dead broke, no account, nada, zip, zero, zilch, flat ass busted. You see, not only had I been in highschool (without a car I might add), but I lived in the middle of nowhere. No jobs to be had. On top of that, I didn't get my financial aid stuff in on time. Yep, I had no money and the school I was going to wanted me to pay about $15,000 (that was my share anyway). So I took a year off. Specifically, I lived at home and worked at a Toxic Waste Dump.

Yes, yes, I know that explains a lot (well not the height, but at least the hair, or rather the migration of the hair from my head to my back). It was good though, for you see, I was an ecowarrior! You see, I was a dirt burner. I was cleaning up the site!

Let me set the picture of this wonder land of toxicity, with the description provided by the EPA:

"Beginning in the early 1960's until 1967, a variety of chemical wastes from area petrochemical companies were disposed in on-site unlined sand pits. The wastes were mainly petroleum and chemical wastes, such as benzene, toluene, xylene, creosote, phenols, olefins, and other organic solvents. The wastes also contained metals such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and lead. A sludge overflow extended eastward over a large area from the main waste pit. Wastes leaching from the pits heavily contaminated ground water in the shallow alluvium aquifer. The deeper Coastal Plain aquifer contained trace levels of several volatile organic compounds. Waste volumes at the Site were approximately as follows: 350 million gallons of contaminated ground and surface water; 496,000 tons of organic sludge and contaminated soils; and 2000 drums of mixed waste."

Oh, and the site covered 185 Acres. Sounds like the Garden of Eden, no?

Essentially, we burned 500,000 Tons (tonnes for my British reader) of dirt. Half a million. Tons. Yes, a 1Billion pounds. Pretty impressive I think.

So, where am I going with this? I sang that song everyday at work, as I shoveled some portion of that burned dirt. Why did I bring that up? Because I actually looked back on that miserable $8.00 an hour job fondly recently. No BS. No conference calls, no marketing people, no idiot project managers (wait scratch that, we once had a project manager suggest I climb 20 flights of stairs carrying 50 pounds sacks of ball bearings all day for 8 straight days).

Then again, the pay sucked, and it was somewhat dangerous. Ah well, if I ever have kids, at least I have the best story to tell them "You damn kids had it easy, I worked in a toxic waste dump! Spoiled little brats!"