Fear of the septic tank

5 Apr

I can’t believe it was a whole year ago that I visited my parents in the U.S.  On one hand, it feels like years ago that I was there, but on the other, it feels like it was only a couple of months ago.

Recently I signed up for Timehop, a free service that you link to your social media accounts. Each day, you get an email with your status updates, tweets, etc. from exactly 1 year before.  Since I was in the U.S. at this time last year, I’ve been enjoying re-living a little bit of my trip each day, and seeing the funny things Hannah used to say before she could speak so well.

But, the daily re-living has made me remember the septic tank. Yeah, you read that right, the septic tank. My parents have one. I grew up with one. And well water. Whenever the power went out, we’d have no water either. But that’s another story for another day….

Back to the septic tank. The septic tank is toward the back of the side yard. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, I mean to the side of the house, more to the back than the front.

When I was little, I used to avoid (as much as one could) playing near the septic tank. I gave that side yard a pretty wide berth. When I could help it. When other people were around and walking/playing/bike riding/horse riding through the area, I’d go there too. I didn’t want them to know that I was scared of the septic tank. But I was. Wuss.

I always imagined it to be this gigantic deep cylindrical thing, with a very thin lid on top, and dirt and grass on top of that. I thought that if I stood there too long, or jumped too high, or ran too fast, the lid would collapse and it would swallow me up.
RID-X Septic System Treatment: 2 Dose Powder

I’d fall in with spectacular fashion and be stuck in a huge pile of thick poop, trying to swim, but barely able to even hold myself up.  There was no ladder, and the walls were so high, there was no way I could pull myself out.

I was terrified of drowning, all by myself, in a pile of poop.  No one would find me, I’d be totally swallowed up by the crazy poop monster.

When I visited my parents last year, my Dad said he needed to open the lid of the septic tank.

“How are you going to do that?” I asked him, visions of huge tractors in my head. How else would you open a gigantic lid?

He looked at me funny. Like I was stark raving mad. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

We piled on our coats, hats, and boots (it was very cold over there!) and went outside.  I held Hannah particularly tight. I certainly didn’t want her to be gobbled up by the poop monster.

My Dad grabbed a shovel, dug up a tiny bit of dirt and grass, and then stopped.

Imagine my surprise, when the gigantic septic tank lid that I was scared of all those years turned out to be this:

Not even my leg would fit in there. And then I googled septic tanks, and found this:

Septic tank before installation. Image courtesy wikipedia

That is what I was afraid of all those years?!  I could stand up in that and not even get my head wet! Sigh.

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Copyright 2012 Sheri Thomson

19 Responses to “Fear of the septic tank”

  1. idiosyncratic eye April 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    Ah childhood fears, it’s always a perspective thing! 🙂

    • Mommy Adventures April 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Yeah, I feel pretty dumb now…

      • idiosyncratic eye April 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

        No because you didn’t make the assumption now but when you were very little! 🙂

  2. Karine April 6, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    Actually, I use to have septic tank when I was young too and when it needed to be empty, we’d have to call in a sanitary company. They came with tractors and everything! They would dig up this big huge hole… although, I never actually went to see what was in the hole (ewwwww!), so I’m not sure what was in there. But it was a pretty darn big hole, let me tell ya!

    So, I totally get your fear of falling in the hole with the crazy poop monster. Seems absolutely normal to me (although, my definition of normal might be somewhat elastic).

    • Mommy Adventures April 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      I don’t think ours had to be pumped, it was the bacteria breakdown kind. I think….

  3. Drink Your Greens and Minerals! April 6, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    You know, I’m just feeling for you right now. As a child that’s a fear that can stick with you. Never having a septic tank, I’m ashamed to say I was amused from your drawings all the way to your childhood fear. However, after considering mine which was the boogie man, I feel differently. The Boogie Man was either stuck in the closet, possible breaking my toys, or under my bed where I cleaned only once every other month (my brave mother always had my back). 🙂 So after reading your post, I can relate to having a memorable childhood fear.

  4. LBcruiseshipblogger April 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    It probably actually looks a lot more like what you imagined it did than what you’ve got pictured there cuz it is a big round concrete one. The little lid you show is the access lid to where the pipe comes in from the house, it also has 2 somewhat larger lids, one to each chamber that have to be dug up if it gets pumped (which septic tanks need now and then.) Just not the whole top being one lid.

  5. LBcruiseshipblogger April 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Since not everyone has a septic tank, or any clue how they work or why anyone would want to dig up the access to the pipe in, I should probably mention that whenever anyone flushes something they shouldn’t it tends to get stuck at the end of that pipe. Yup, it will make it all the way down to the end of the pipe and then just sit there and not drop into the tank. Then if anyone drains a bathtub upstairs (or runs the dishwasher, etc) the water tends to overflow out of the toilet downstairs. So digging up the lid and finding a stick to remove the blockage from the end of the pipe becomes quite necessary. Like when a young Sheri flushed an entire roll of toilet paper. Or a visitor flushed a tampon, which swelled to fill the entire width of the pipe.

    • Mommy Adventures April 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      Pretty sure it was my brother who did that…in my mind that’s how it always was anyway….

  6. Septic Tank Dangers April 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    You were right to be frightened of the septic tank! Thsi year, so far, 24 people have died as a result of the collapse of septic tank lids and tops. Septic gases include Hydrogen Sulfide which turns into Sulfuric Acid on contact with the septic tank top, eating away at the cement and weakening the structure, until one day, someone stands on it and it collapses. The latest victim is an 8 year old boy at Easter. Don’t let it happen to your child.

    • Mommy Adventures April 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

      Oh my gosh! I wonder why I didn’t see any photos of that sort of septic tank when I did my google search. I think I just went with the first I saw and wanted to think that’s what they are all like. It’s so scary that people do actually die like that!

  7. Septic Tanks April 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Yes, you are right! – a little girl died in Lakewood, NJ recently due to septic tank top collapse. She was only 2 years old, Bless her. See http://news.yahoo.com/autopsy-nj-girls-septic-tank-death-accident-114258471.html

  8. Septic Tank April 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Dreadfully dangerous things – septic tanks. If the lids don’t collapse, the gases can kill you. – Hydrogen Sulfide is deadly. Look at this http://biconstruction.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/sewer-gasses-blamed-in-maine-septic-system-deaths/

    • Mommy Adventures April 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      Goodness, that is scary. I’m not going near my parents septic tank next time I’m there!

  9. Septic Tank Emptying September 11, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    I have Google alerts tell me news about Septic tanks and the number one bit of news i get is about people or animals falling into a septic tanks because the lids are not on properly.

  10. zquiet June 21, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a
    comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

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