Black Tank Hands!

imageHaving full hookups is always amazing, but not always possible. We all know that sh*t literally happens, and without full hookups RV owners have to be a little bit more, mindful of their tanks. Knowing this, I was mindful to watch our tank levels during our ten-day stay at a RV park in Northern California. We paid for a few “honey runs” (you know, where a park employee comes by with a vacuum pump and tank to drain your black and gray tanks). We were also lucky enough to have a friend who had a sewer tote. So, I used that in between our “honey runs”. I even showed our friends how to use their useful gadget since they were kind enough to let me break it in! Nothing says friendship like letting your friend dump their poop into your gadgets!

Anyways, it was the day we were supposed to leave, I had planned to stop at the dump station on our way out of the park because it never hurts to start a trip with completely empty tanks, plus you never know when you will come across another dump station.

So, even though we had been RVing for about eight months, this was technically only my second time having to empty our tanks at a dump station. However, I saw no difference between using the station and using the tote. In fact, the only difference would be that I wouldn’t have the smell of sewage follow me as I walked to the dump. “This’ll be a piece of cake,” I thought. Yeah, famous last words!

Had I known what I know now, I might not have been so cocky.

I pulled our truck and 5th-wheel up to the station and started getting everything hooked up because I needed to dump two black tanks and two gray tanks (we have one of each up front and one of each in back). What happened next went as follows:

Black 1: no problem.

Gray 1: no problem.

Black 2…While dumping that one, I noticed a little black water was leaking out of a small hole in the sewer hose, so I thought, “I’ll just roll the hose over so that hole is up.”

Problem solved, right? WRONG!

When I rolled the hose over, a connection further up the line came open, and black water started running EVERYWHERE! Now, there is a reason that they call this the black tank, people. It’s because no man, woman, or child, should ever have to witness nor smell the odor that comes forth from the belly of that beast! However, in that moment, I knew I had to make a split-second decision: do I:

1) run to the valve handle and try to close it, letting more black water spill all over the place; or

2) grab the open ends of the two hoses with my hands and re-connect them.

Yeah…I chose option 2. Now would probably be a good time to let you know that I didn’t have any gloves on (rooky mistake, I know), so, I had black water rushing all over both of my hands before I got it reconnected. Let me just tell you, you haven’t really lived until you’ve washed your hands in your own family’s crap!


At that point, I try to see the situation in a glass half full manner, so I think, “no problem…so I’ve got a little black water to wash off my hands and to rinse into the dump area drain.”

I ran and grabbed the nearby water hose and turned it on. I had just used it a day or two ago, but IT. WOULDN’T. TURN. ON! I ran to the next station and used it to rinse my hands, but as I walked over to rinse the pavement I found that the hose wouldn’t reach the spill. Then, I noticed that the rinse station supply hose was kinked. I figured I could just disconnect it, untangle the kink, and reconnect it.

Simple, right? WRONG!

The water valve wouldn’t shut off all the way. So, for the next fifteen minutes, I fought to get the supply hose back on a running spigot while spraying water everywhere! By the time I was done, my pants were soaked from the knees down. I really couldn’t tell if I had any black water on my legs or feet, but I could smell my hands with them down at my sides!

I immediately pulled the rig out of the station and parked by the nearest bathroom. I ran in and proceeded to scrub my hands with soap and water about 60 times! However, that black water smell was still there, haunting me. I called Dawn, my wife, to tell her what was taking me so long (she had gone to grab some lunch for us), and I don’t think she fully grasped the reality of what had just happened to me. I met up with her at a fast food place a little while later and gave her the rundown after I washed my hands about 1,000 times more! I told her I didn’t think I’d ever bite my nails again, but I did finally get the smell off. Too bad, I couldn’t wash that memory from my brain!

Submitted by Cole Younger

Edited by Ashley Chick

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