Sewer service

“SANITARY SEWER” says the manhole cover, in words running around the rim in a circle. “National Power Rodding Corp.” says the truck parked near it. Austin is working to comply with an EPA administrative order carrying a deadline of December 31, 2007. By then, certain deficiencies in the wastewater system must be remedied or there will be massive fines to be paid.

This manhole is the one nearest our house. National Power Rodding equipment has been sighted all over south Austin recently, including on Saturdays. Exactly what services the team of two in this truck planned to perform I never had a chance to ask. I was late leaving the house anyhow.

And following the comment that the first guy made to the second upon lifting the cover and peering in, it seemed best not to intrude. I wrote it down exactly, but here it will appear in dotted-line form: “Holy s—! What the f— is this s—?”

It sounded as though what was down there was the likes of something never before encountered in their entire power-rodding history. It makes a person wonder just what it could have been.

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