April 22, 2005

Odiferous Evening

I have been remiss in not posting about the night before last. Consider it my way of recovering.

I arrived in my subdivision Wednesday evening about 8:30 from my cherished therapy appointment to be greeted with a strong--and I mean strong--repulsive odor that seemed to be coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once.

It got worse and worse as I neared our driveway. Worse still when I pulled in the driveway. The gag reflex was in full gear by the time I hit the garage door opener. To my complete horror, the smell was INSIDE too.

Jenna, who had been with a sitter, met me at the downstairs door: MOM! It's the hamsters! They smell terrible!"

Racing thoughts: Undiscovered, rotten hamster baby corpses? Odor-reducing food not working? No. Wait. I wouldn't have smelled the odor outside if it were the hamsters.

Perplexed. Climbing the stairs. Sitter racing from the house--"I'm sure it's not your house, dear--it is a smell in the neighborhoood--someone burning or something." Trips down the stairs in her rush.

"Be careful now!" = Byebye nice sitter. Will you ever come back? I loved you.

Back to the smell.

I called our next door neighbor to see if he smelled it. No answer. Called the other-side neighbor to see if they smelled it. No answer.

They must be dead. Thought #2: Bio-terrorism.

Look out the window: Cars are passing by. Turn on the TV. No emergency broadcast system. Okay. So it's not the end of the world, so to speak.

Think think think.

Maybe it's gas--it does have that rotten egg smell. In which case, a gas leak is dangerous. Don't touch any light switches.

It's 9:30 when I decide to call the gas company to come investigate--make sure we're not about to be blown off the map. They get here around 10:00, and I meet the gas man outside.

"WSHEW!" he says. "I smelled this coming down the road--I've never smelled anything like it before, but I can tell you, it's not gas."

"Oh. So, do you know what it is?"

"No idea. It could be that run-off between your house and his [pointing to our neighbor] has a leak--smells like it could be a sewer leak, and in that case, sewer gas is just as dangerous."

"Will your little clicky thing pick it up if it's sewer gas?"

"It might."

He spends five minutes walking between our yard and the neighbors trying to get his device to register something, but nothing showed up.

"You may want to call water and sewer for cobb county. Something like this, they'll probably come out tonight. Tell them you had the gas company out and they thought the water guys should come out."

I thank him, and I take his advice.

By 11:00 or so the water people arrive. I meet them outside and ask if they smell the smell.

"We took care of it--your backyard neighbor was dumping into the storm drain, which runs right over there [pointing to the runoff between our houses] -- he said he had put some chemicals in his pool and was emptying in it. We told him he couldn't do that. And besides, I never smelled NO smell from pool chemicals like this."

Amen. And that idiot. This is the fourth year he's dumped his pool water on us.

But something's not right. Pool water doesn't smell like this.

It hits me.

"He has a pig. I don't mean a little pig. I mean a hog."

They stare at me.

"I'm saying, I don't know what he does with the manure."

More stares.

They don't get it. They want to be gone from my smelly abode. They tell me that if anyone gets sick, they'll have a report on the incidence at the water company. That one of them almost threw up over by the runoff. That they were going to go BACK to his house, now nearing midnight, and tell him not to do it again.

"It's the pig." That's all I said.

After some online research, we've developed a hypothesis: Our backyard neighbor had taken his chlorinated pool water and used it to wash pig manure down the storm drain next to our house.

Thing is, combining the methane-heavy manure with chlorine in an enclosed space like a sewer drain is just not a good idea. Neither is dumping hog manure on your neighbor.

The end of the story is so far Happy: We're still here.

But the ending of the pig's story may not be so happy: His days are numbered.