There’s a reason I chose English over science as my major. Science just isn’t my forte. This has only been made more clear to me over the course of this school year as I have been working on completing my general education requirements. To complete the science portion of said requirements, I enrolled in a two semester class: Human Biology. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have learned a great deal in this class: mostly how to pretend I’m listening and how to translate general scientific terminology into Japanese to pass the time. Oh, and not to mention how I am well aware of the fact that my teacher used to study the effects of radiation on pigs, but that’s an entirely different matter.
This class not only consists of lectures/story time three days a week, but it also includes a lab meeting ranging from 5 minutes to 3 hours. The interesting activities we do there range from watching films from the 1980’s to doing a urinalysis, none of which are on my bucket list. And so, when I was informed that today would be the final lab assignment, I was thrilled! Then came the glorious (translated distasteful) news: we were going to go on a tour of the local waste water treatment plant. And of course everyone was thrilled…
I struggled with the temptation to skip. After all, it wouldn’t hurt to miss one lab, would it? But at last the angel on my shoulder convinced me to be a good student, so I went. After all, it meant some easy, and much needed, points.
When we got to the waste water treatment facility, we were met by a guy named Joey. After introductions, he led us over to the first of the many holding tanks.
As we walked, my teacher asked him how long he had been working there.
“A little over a year,” he replied.
“How many tours have you done before?”
“This is my first tour.”
To which I thought, “Really?! You mean there aren’t many people who make a hobby of visiting sewer plants?!”
Soon we mounted the steps to the deck above the first tank. I looked in. Yep. Definitely sewer.
Joey said a few words about the process of separating the trash from the waste water, then we followed him over to the second tank. I didn’t have to get as close to see the contents of this one. It looked like sewer.
A few more words, a jolly little jaunt over the bridge spanning the tank, and we were on to tank number three. It still looked like sewer.
After a few more similar incidents, we at last made our way down to the creek where the thoroughly-treated toilet water was being returned to nature.
My teacher then noted that, the last time he had been there, (he makes yearly visits with his Human Bio classes), the tour guide had told him that they had caught a group of guys fishing next to the “effluent”.
Joey laughed, then replied, “A while back we caught some kids swimming down here, so we took them up to see what it was they were swimming in. They ran back home!”
A good lesson not to swim where you’re not supposed to!
Finally we got back into the vans to leave and I began to mull over the visit. What did I learn? Sewer looks like sewer no matter what tank you put it in. Oh, but I think I might have gotten a tan!