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Neck Deep in the Sewers

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Swan Island Pump Station

Helmet on head, goggles on nose, neon-yellow safety vest velcro’d tight and boots laced. I wasn’t tarted up for this year’s most anticipated rave, I was about to clamber through one-hundred and sixty feet of Portland’s sparkling new sewage pump. Crawling through the murk and muck of industrial hangovers is a cherished pastime, all cops and robbers and dangling above certain death from fatigued metal railings, but this exercise in urban spelunking was actually a sanctioned tour.

People buy expensive suits and carry briefcases to impress their fellow downtown office drones. I looked like the foreman’s nephew rushed into whatever scraps of gear had been abandoned. Good thing I wasn’t here to impress anyone or find a job, I was here to research the Wired article: Robots, Rebar and Slurry: Inside a Massive Public Works Project.

My journey to fashion victimization had begun a couple weeks back as I rooted through the mail. It’s never for me, but I like to pick it up every day and feel connected to the outside world through my roommates’ bills, adverts and assorted landfill. Coupons for the shitty pizza chain? Into the recycling. Top dollar for my gold jewelry? Into the recycling. Mailer from the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services? Hold up. Read more…

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