Monday, December 19, 2016

Classic RV Horror Story




Though it’s well beyond Halloween, this story may haunt you…

Do you cringe at the thought of dealing with the black tank – the RV waste holding tank?  Just collecting putrid waste day after day, stewing it up into a horrific funk just inches below your living room floor?  Considering the general foulness of this necessary RV component, it’s critical to ensure you don’t commit any boneheaded errors, or you might find yourself in a very unpleasant position.  Such was the case when passing through Pennsylvania late this summer. 

Sometime in September, 2016:  We arrive at our campground – just an overnight stay with an opportunity to thoroughly clean out the tanks after staying with friends (and no hookups) for few days.  Everything is going along swimmingly (perhaps a poor choice of words here), up until I go to connect the sewer hose.  The hose connects to a 3” PVC that hangs down from the holding tanks, capped off with a simple two prong cover.  I twist off the cover and a rampage of angry urine and filth roars down the PVC.  I frantically replace the cap, but it’s too late.  I’m soaked from the waist down.  We were operating without water hookups for several days, so this is a full concentrate, smell burning your eyeballs kind of urine.  I see my tragic error:  the black tank valve handle is fully extended, fully opening the tank.  I close the valve.  I want to find someone to blame, but I know I must have left it open after flushing it the week prior.  *Sigh*  At this point I figure there is probably only a bit remaining in the lower portion of the pipe below the black tank valve, and I might as well just let these last few drops splash down to the ground with the rest of the sewage puddle I now stand in.  Off goes the cap, and out rushes gallons of addition urine, soaking me once again.  That PVC holds a lot more than I expected! 

I whimper momentarily, and then feel a sense of relief and gratefulness that Brynn wasn’t the one hooking up the sewer today, as she does on occasion.  Sleeping on the couch wouldn’t even begin to describe what I might suffer after something like that.  I gather myself, avoiding a complete breakdown, and realize I resemble a child’s papier-mâché project.  Bits of toilet paper are plastered to my arms, legs, and sandals.

The next hour can most accurately be described as such:  The Ace Ventura - Pet Detective scene where Jim Carrey cleanses himself in the shower following an unpleasant experience of his own.  He is contorted into ball of despair, wailing, just hoping the boiling hot water can do something to purify him.  But it’s hopeless.  No amount of scrubbing will make him feel clean, as the memory is burned into his brain.  This was my experience in the campground shower that afternoon.

You can understand why it’s been so long before I was able to write about this experience.  There was some emotional healing that needed to happen first. 

A practical tip:  Before removing the tank drain cap, check to make sure all valves are closed.  If they aren’t – don’t freak out!  Just get a large, preferably black heavy duty garbage bag, and open the tank with the bag fully around the pipe.  No spill, no mess.  Easily poured down the sewer pipe when complete.  Just the strong smell to deal with, but that’s a far cry away from what could have been.

Image result for ace ventura pet detective shower scene
Ace Ventura.  Notice the flames from clothing burning in a trash can.