Friday, January 6, 2012

Money Mouth

           Recently Becky and I took a tour of the Decatur Sewage Treatment Plant. In the next book some of our characters work there, so it makes sense for us to learn about how things operate. The man who gave us the tour, Harold, really knows his shit. (You knew I was going to say that). I think he must be a shit-plant genius.
He started the tour where the raw waste flows into the plant. The first building contained number of Parsons Screens. The screens look like big wide belts with a series of fork tines ¼ inch apart. They travel down beneath the floor through the sewage, and come back up with whatever debris went down toilets, sinks, and whatever. When the tines travel over the top of the machine to head back down, they deposit whatever was gathered into a chute where it slides into a dumpster on a lower level.
A variety of things are gathered by the screen. The employees used to feed the pop machine with coins or bills gathered from the dumpster. Harold told a story about the pop man when he came to empty money from the machine. When asked to make change, the pop man freed up his hand by placing a coin he’d taken from the machine between his lips.
No one told him where the coin came from.
Another interesting item collected is dentures. They save them in a lost and found to be claimed. And people actually do claim them. I couldn’t imagine it! Who would want something in their mouth that has been swimming with the sewer bass? Harold informed us that they can take the well-traveled dentures back to where they got them and exchange them for a new set.
Other items recovered included jewelry. I can see fishing out a ring for a birthday gift for my wife to wear, but I don’t think she’d go for the dentures.
Seeing how things work at the plant was eye-opening. And this was just the first stop on our tour!

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