Friday, April 27, 2007

Hey, you've got some mud on your pants.

I have received many inquiries regarding the origin of the picture of the mud caked jeans. So I will now explain how this happened to my pants.

I would like to start by clarifying that while this was an accident, it happens on a somewhat regular basis due to the "muddy" nature of my job. While I was out doing construction inspections after a recent rainstorm I was walking on a particularly muddy site. When I am walking through an open construction site, I have to be careful, there are bulldozers and cranes driving around, large open pits and piles of sharp rusty metal. It's not like I'm out for a stroll here people. After it rains, the ground becomes soft and squishy and it can be quite tricky to stay clean while you are walking around. The best way to ensure that you don't get too muddy is to be sure the ground beneath your foot is firm before placing any weight on it. That way, if the mud is soft and gives way beneath your foot, you will not sink in.

On this particularly day, it had rained very hard for the three days prior. I was walking in one of the soggiest areas and came to a 15-foot tall pile of soil that I need to climb over. I placed one foot on the side of the pile and it felt firm so I put my weight on that leg and then brought the other leg up onto the pile. Everything seemed fine… 3…2…1… and then I began to skink. Not just up to my ankles or even my knees, nope I sank in to the top of my hips, both legs. It was vaguely reminiscent of that scene in Money Pit, the one where Tom Hanks sinks through the hole in the floor that is covered by the rug. And he can't get out because he is in so deep so all he can do is hang there wiggling and crying out for help.

I am no stranger to public embarrassment so the fact that I was firmly lodged up to my waist in very sticky mud was bad, but not the worst I've ever been through. As I tried to free myself I looked over in horror to see about 7 contractors all putting down their tools and pointing and staring in disbelief. OK, this was not good, but it got worse. One of the men came over to try and help me only to discover that the mud was so sticky that he himself became stuck and neither one of us could get out. To make matters worse, he spoke no English whatsoever so I had no idea what he was yelling although roughly translated, I think it may have meant, "You %)*&! I can't ^&!# believe you got me %(&)*# stuck!"

Finally, one of the other men came over to survey the situation from what he determined to be a safe distance (read 20 feet). He says, "Are ya stuck?" I purse my lips, and give him an un-amused stare. He snickers, barely able to contain his glee, "OK, OK, hang on we'll get you out."

He walks away and around the side of the giant dirt pile. Moments later I hear the loud roar of a diesel engine and a gigantic bulldozer comes blazing towards me with the one man driving and two other men standing in the bucket pumping their fists in the air and whooping. "Oh God" I think to myself "this is it, I've written one too many violations and now they are going to run me over with a bulldozer and no one will ever find me." The bulldozer hurtled forward and screeched to a halt, literally, two inches in front of me. The two men reached down to help pull me out of the mud. My legs were so entrenched that they created a vacuum suction seal. I am going to die here I thought. "We could try digging her out" one man said to the other with a smirk. "Yeah!" the other guy said, he then turned his sights on the man who was stuck in the mud next to me. "Quit laying around and go get a shovel," he yelled over the diesel engine. Now, this man did not speak English but evidently, he understood it because right at that moment he flicked off the guys in the bulldozer. Seriously, I am going to die here I thought.

After a lot of pulling they managed to get both of us out. At the moment I broke free of my vacuum seal a loud slurp echoed across the site and a plume of mud sprayed up like old faithful and showered us all in brown spatter. I sat in the bucket of the bulldozer and looked at my pants, and boots which were caked in mud 2 inches thick from my hips down. There was mud spray in my hair and on my shirt. I'm pretty sure some even went up my nose.

When I got back to the office around lunchtime, I went into the break room and everyone stopped and stared. "Oh my God what happened?" they all asked.

"Oh you know, just another day at the office!"