Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Biosolid Kinda Day in Fort McMurray

On occasion something happens that is so unexpected that one doesn't know quite how to react. One day last week driving across the bridge from Thickwood I noted what appeared to be a large amount of mud in the right hand lane. It puzzled me a bit, but dirt and mud are nothing new in this region, and so I arrived at work relatively unaware of the events of the morning. It didn't take long, though, for me to notice a tweet commenting that someone had dumped "manure" on the road, leading to slick roads, a very bad smell, and a need for instant clean-up. I was puzzled, though, wondering where on earth the "manure" had come from, as we don't have a lot of livestock here. That confusion lasted right until I read that it was a "biosolid" spill from a municipal truck transporting the material from the wastewater facility to the dump for composting. Now, "biosolids" is of course a very polite and euphemistic way of saying "poop", in this case of the human variety, and as soon as this was revealed the jokes began.

There is something about "poop" jokes that bring out the five year old in every adult, and on "biosolid spill day" certain words, regardless of where you work or spend time, were likely to result in mad fits of giggles. It was the kind of situation where one couldn't do much but laugh, really, although the reality is that the "biosolids" created a hazard for drivers, as well as a potential biological hazard. The real hazard, though, was dying from laughter as the jokes flew fast and furious, people turning red as they giggled their way through a day that had started rather typically and quickly descended into biosolid mayhem.

I suppose we could have felt embarrassed, or even dismayed that such a thing could happen - but then again I think there is real value in maintaining our ability to laugh, especially in a region where on occasion we feel like there is a rather large target fixed on our backs. The worst part of the incident was likely the traffic jam, although as far as traffic woes go this was one of the more unusual. And, well, the smell was pretty atrocious, too.

In the end, though, the spill was cleaned up quickly and efficiently, and when I drove home I could not see or smell a thing. The jokes, of course, may linger a bit longer than the odour, as it will go down in history as the day the biosolids hit the fan in Fort McMurray. I am proud to say we responded well, and reacted with humour, flying in the face of a rather biosolidy kinda day.

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