Monday, September 18, 2006

WHY did I go to the sewer museum?

I thought it'd be kind of edgy to go to the Musee des Egouts (sewer museum), and perhaps helpful for my research.

But as soon as I was descending the stairs and the smell was already beginning, I started thinking, "Maybe this is a bad idea."

An English language tour had just started so another guide hustled me to it. I was just in time to hear the end of a very fascinating anecdote about a purple crocodile that is now in the Berlin Zoo. When the guide finished and we began walking to a new spot, I asked the woman next to me what the story had been with the croc. She said, "I didn't hear it myself. I just got a cochlear implant."

I smiled widely and said, "My friend has one and he wrote a book about it. Do you know Rebuilt, by Michael Chorost?"

She said, "I read it right before I got the implant."

Very intriguing and I wanted to learn more so I could report back to Mike, but the guide was already beginning her next spiel, an in-depth portrait of the machine used to clean the sewers. (actually, it was interesting. They use no motors in the sewers, only hand-pushed scrapers. If the men step in a bunch of congealed fat, it will release toxic gas and so they have 10 minutes of oxygen, to last until they get up their manhole, which are located every 30 meters. They used to use canaries but now have a little electronic device for detecting gas.)

And then, and then, and then.... man! We were looking at a flowing river of sewage and I had to walk away from the group, pressing my coat against my mouth to not gag. I tried to stick with the tour, I tried, but ultimately fled. I think I was only there about 10 minutes total. I can't believe I voluntarily subjected myself to that and paid for the privilege!

In short: sewer museum--not for me.

**** Post script.
I wanted to say what happened after I left the museum. I became concerned that I might've, in my short time down there, taken on the fumes and odors of sewage. I tried to find a smoker so I could perambulate in his/her cloud of smoke, but alas the one time I wanted smoke blown in my face I couldn't find it! And I worried that when I boarded the Metro, the hapless person sitting next to me would be overwhelmed by my "presence."

Ironically, I instead strolled a fancy street, walking past Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Chanel. How fabulous to tremble past these places convinced one is reeking of sewage!

I saw Sephora and had the stroke of genius to go there and let 'em give me all the perfume sticks they wanted.

On the Metro, I thought, "Gosh, that person next to me has such a lovely perfume," and it wasn't until I was climbing the stairs to leave the station that I realized the loveliness emanated from me. Thank you Sephora!

Last thought: the pamphlet for the museum recommends that you wash your hands before leaving. In fact, as an escapee from my tour, I asked a guard for the bathroom to wash my hands and he agreed, "It's very important."
Should such a thing exist if it is "very important" that you wash your hands afterward?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Step in a bunch of congealed fat?! That's gross! I'm trying to imagine where the fat comes from. What all accumulates in sewers, anyway? I thought it was just what one flushed down the toilet! Well, and the kitchen sink...I guess...but congealed fat?! I can't imagine where all that would come from.

I'm so confused.


Sounds interesting, though.