NORMAN — Heroic behavior is not always related to life threatening events.
Some jobs by their very nature are dangerous — law enforcement, firefighting and the military. The inherent risks associated with those jobs may call upon the members to be heroic. However, there are countless unglamorous jobs that must be performed because, in some cases, it is critical to our well being.
For example, wastewater treatment plant workers must literally deal with one of the nastiest parts of our sanitized lives, sewage. When our son was in middle school, one of his science fair projects was to outline the entire process related to wastewater treatment. The information he amassed was not only surprising to him but to his parents as well.
There are things that end up in the sewer system which exceed the usual presents. We have all heard of folks flushing their pet alligators when the gators outgrow the “cute” stage. What possesses people to think baby alligators are cute and buy them for their children? Whether flushed alligators do in fact grow up and live in our sewers is a tale for another time or science fiction movies.
Fortunately, flushed goldfish, dead or alive, do not pose problems like our use of garbage disposals. According to the plant manager, garbage disposals were not a blessing at his end of the process because of the extra work to remove the smaller chunked up goodies.
Early in the water treatment process, large solids are captured by grates. This is where they sadly find babies. Such discoveries are upsetting and make the job difficult for the workers. Consequently, wastewater plants are not only the “dirty jobs” which must be done, but can also be traumatic.
Another unsavory jobs category has reached critical status due to laws which limit what can be done to control pests. We will not deal with the pros and cons of such laws, but rather with the men and women who assess and do their best to eradicate and/or control the creepy, crawly critters which invade our domiciles.
Speaking as a dyed-in-the-wool enemy of creepy, crawly critters, the people who are on the front lines of controlling pests are positively heroic. Why? Perhaps the best way to explain is to walk you through the process.
Let’s say you are an apartment manager and several of your units are overrun with roaches or the more difficult to eradicate infestations — bed bugs. You call a pest control company and scream “Help” in your most pathetic voice.
Contrary to what you may believe, the proper and professional behind the scenes process includes extensive training, especially for the sales representatives. They learn about and must be able to recognize all those invasive critters and remain professional. No screaming in terror allowed.
If a relative goes through the training, be prepared to see emails with pictures of said nasty critters. When you open such emails, your first reaction may be a scream of horror. They look so real that you hit the screen with a rolled up newspaper. Then you delete the pictures and rush to take a shower to wash away the sudden attack of itches.
The relative laughs at my squeamish reaction because she has to enter the lion’s den of nasty critters to assess a pest control situation. I shriek in terror if I see a dark bug-sized object on the floor. “Be careful the fuzz off my sock will get you,” Hubby laughs.
The sales representative-in-training had to accompany a pest control guy on a job. The critter infestation was so extreme, they had to wear hazmat suits to prevent the critters from hitching a ride to their cars and/or homes.
However, even this heroic relative checks under mattresses, bed skirts and sheets in a hotel for bedbugs before she is willing to spend the night.
If I had a pest control sales representative job, I would be screaming all day long as I inspected each critter lair. Unprofessional behavior, but bugs scare me.
Thank goodness for the everyday heroes willing to perform the gross jobs.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her novels “The Dionysus Connection” and “The Marathon Man” are available on amazon.com. Visit her website: www.elizabethcowan.com.