Today, as two of my sons and I sped northward on I-95, we began passing a septic service truck/tank (FYI: this is not a story about spilled sewage for all you lovers of poop humor). The autumn afternoon was warm, and the driver of the truck had his arm hanging out the window casually, palm facing us as we approached in the passing lane.
I imagined his hand was probably actually cleaner than mine.
I thought of septic systems and of that clean palm grasping the blue hoses that pump sewage. I imagined being that person with that job. I wondered if the driver was paid enough, if he liked his job.
I thought of the smell of liquid cow manure now blowing into our town from the west.
I thought of my grandmother’s septic system and how I never knew what it was, technically, only that it had to do with the toilet and the four squares maximum of toilet paper per flush grandma warned us about.
I thought of our own toilets now and recalled the wet heat of July and the condensation that puddled, then found its way through the floor, through the beams, to the dining room ceiling. I thought of my husband replacing those toilets with new efficient, insulated ones, the gooey sealant ring he put down first, how I have no idea how to install a toilet, and how I have to figure out how to replace a ceiling still as unfinished as it was in July when we pulled it apart to discover the moisture problem. I thought of cash flow.
As our truck pulled alongside the septic service truck and I pondered the deep meaning in septics, sewage, toilets, and shitty jobs, my sixteen-year-old took hold of the “Oh, shit” handle, launched his upper body out the window of our truck, and swung his arm its full length in a failed attempt to plant a high-five on the driver’s palm still hanging languidly out the window of the septic service truck as we passed.
Bouncing back into his seat, he was exuberant, though disappointed.
“Oh, man! If only we were two feet closer!”
I smiled, filled inside with sudden illumination. Proximal witness to such active, physical spontaneity pushed me out of the introverted headspace I didn’t even realize I’d been occupying.
To the sixteen-year-old, human connection within this momentary, 70 mile-per-hour passing comes naturally.
This, from one of those Millennials so (dis)connected to his i-Devices.