Dumping your holding tank… Can you say E-eeew Coli?
Every campground has a dumping station. This is where trailers can empty their waste-water holding tanks. For years at my campground, it has been a place for a kind of entertainment. Think of it as being on a boardwalk, sitting on the bench, and watching the public pass by. It is amazing what we reveal about ourselves without intention. Observers will try to guess a person’s occupation or character by how they look or dress, whether their hands are calloused or manicured, if they were friendly, grumpy and so on.
The gazebo and sitting area outside of my office is the equivalent to front row, middle seats, under the big top – and the dump station is the center ring in our little circus. It is where our seasonal campers’ coffee club gathers each morning to do their people watching. When a trailer pulls up to dump, it’s as though the circus ringmaster has come to introduce the main act and draw everyone’s attention to the center ring. The anticipation is almost palpable as all eyes do a quick scan of the newest performer. Then, in almost a fever pitch, the assessments and betting begins; “Pro or newbie?” Gloves or no gloves? Will they wash their hands when they finish? Will they rinse the sewer hose before putting it back? And on and on it goes, until the unit pulls away and they wait for the next unit to provide the encore.
And now appearing in the center ring…
I wish I had a video camera on the dump station so that I could have played back the unit we had a few years ago. No one was around to watch, with the exception of the few of us working in the office. The ease of his approach and knowledge of how far forward he needed to be in order to line up the valves with the septic cap told us he was not a newbie. What happened after, had us naming all the occupations we prayed he wasn’t involved in: a chef being at the top of the list.
As he pulled the sewer hose from the storage compartment, he simultaneously lit a cigarette. Not wearing any gloves, he proceeded to hookup to the waste water valve and dump the holding tanks, all the while handling the rinse hose, which had, just moments before, been down the sewer hose of the previous unit, and putting the cigarette in and out of his mouth. You can almost see the e-coli and other bacteria jumping from hand to cigarette to mouth. When the tanks were emptied, he rinsed the area, and as the water splashed his sandaled feet, hung up the hose and wiped his hands on his jeans. He shuffled his feet twice in the gravel, so as not to put mud on the floor of the truck, hoisted himself into the driver’s seat, and pulled out. All the while the audience in the office gasped, groaned, and gagged in disbelief.
One must wonder about his personal hygiene training. Was this man an orphan? Did he not have a mother growing up? If he didn’t wash his hands after that repulsive show, I’d bet that he doesn’t wash after using the bathroom. Perhaps he worked in a sewer treatment plant, and the concentration of bacteria is all relative in his mind. We wondered if his lady was o.k. with his personal hygiene habits. My husband pumps out the holding tanks of all the seasonal trailers every Wednesday. He wears gloves and washes his hands after removing them. Still, he could not possibly exude enough pheromones for me to feel any attraction, until after he has showered and scrubbed every inch of his body.
As the smoker pulled away, I contemplated using the antibacterial hand wash in the store. But, my subconscious propelled me to the back room where I washed my own hands in a futile gesture of hygiene by proxy.
On another occasion, I glanced out the window, and to my horror saw a family washing their dishes at the dump station! Really? They paid no attention to the “Danger” sign warning that the outlet is not for drinking or domestic use. When I went out to tell them they could not wash dishes there, they assured me the’d be finished soon. I had to explain to them why it was not wise. They just packed up their dishes and put them in the car. I have to wonder if they ever re-washed them.
Send in the clowns!
Shortly after I told everyone about the smoker, my son’s father-in-law camped with us. When I looked out the window I laughed out loud at what I saw.
Now, I’m not saying you need to dress in full hazmat like my son’s father-in-law did. He did get a laugh from those who saw him! But Covid-19 aside, basic hygiene is advised when dumping your RV. I really hope I don’t need to tell any of you not to wash your dishes or fill your fresh water tank with the dump station hose! But by all means, next time watch the unit ahead of you, play the game, and guess – newbie or pro?!
If you actually are a “newbie”, you may want to check out this website before dumping. Happy Trails!