May 062015

I got an e-mail yesterday from a new RVer who wrote that he is terrified to dump his RV’s black tank for the first time. “It feels like holding a live hand grenade in my hand, waiting for it to explode,” he said. “What if the hose comes loose from where it connects to the end of the tank or the dump station? What if the hose has a leak? What if it explodes?” I think he watched the movie RV one too many times.

I wrote back and told him I’ve held both in my hand many times, and trust me, it’s not the same. Cleaning up after a hand grenade is a lot messier than a sewer hose, believe it or not.

As long the hose is in good condition and you make sure all of your connections are good and tight, relax and pull the handle. And, if by some crazy quirk of fate the worst does happen, you’ll survive. I think there are only two types of RVers, those who have had a dump station mishap, and those who will have a dump station mishap. If you’ve been fortunate so far, wait your turn. It’s coming. All you can do is clean up the mess and get on with your life. Trust me, a year down the road it will make a funny campfire story.

One time I saw a fellow pull up to the dump station at Elkhart Campground in a Class A Fleetwood motorhome. He opened a bay on the side of his rig, and pulled out a pair of chest waders of the type worn by fisherman, and put them on. Next he pulled rubber galoshes on over his shoes and donned one of those paper masks with an elastic band over his nose and mouth, like you see in a hospital operating room. I watched as he then slid on a set of plastic goggles and thick rubber gloves. He looked like he was about to handle plutonium rods or something.

With his survival gear on, his next step was to get out a bottle of some sort of disinfectant, with which he proceeded to spray the plastic cap to the dump station before he unscrewed it. Likewise he sprayed down his sewer hose after pulling it out of a plastic storage bin. All this on a day when the temperature was up around 90 degrees and the humidity wasn’t far behind. I was pretty sure he’d cook himself in all that rubber and plastic before he ever got his sewer hose hooked up. I couldn’t contain myself any longer.

“What in the hell are you doing?” I asked him.

“You have to be careful dumping these things,” he told me. Or at least that’s what I think he said. It’s hard to understand someone when they’re talking through a mask.


“Yeah, e-coli lives in places like this. It can kill you.”

“Oh, you’re dumping,” I replied. “I was waiting for you to pull out a snorkel next. In that getup, I thought maybe you had lost your Rolex and were getting ready to go in after it!”

Some people don’t understand my sense of humor, and this guy was obviously one of them. He muttered something through his mask and went to work. I left before any stray e-coli germs crawled out of the sewer and bit me on my portly posterior.


Thought For The Day – Some things are better left unsaid, but occasionally I slip up and say them anyway.

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Nick Russell

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  19 Responses to “Black Tanks and Hand Grenades”

  1. What a great story to start the day. I needed that laugh. Have a good one Nick!

  2. Good one Nick! You made my day.

  3. I have to admit a little trepidation every time I pull that handle. I can just see the end whirling around through space like a loose fire hose with a thousand pounds of pressure!!! So far I’ve been one of the lucky ones!!

  4. Hey, folks, just stand by when dumping and be ready to quickly close the valve if something goes amiss. I’m in the first category – have had a dump station mishap on more than one occasion. I wonder if that fellow in your story would dress the same to pick up dog poop?

  5. Now THAT was a good one Nick! Of course, then you see the opposite type of fellow, also. The guy who uses his fresh water hose to clean up all of his sewer accessories.

  6. Funny story. Being a biologist, I just laugh. Unless you have an illness your own waste is not going to infect you. It’s other people’s waste that you need to be careful of. The real issue is your hands. Washing your hands a number of times a day and keeping them away from your mouth is the answer. And by the way, E. coli is a natural member of the bacterial flora in the intestine. You need them to help digest your food.

  7. thanks for the early morning giggle,massarator is so much simpler

  8. Now that was a funny story Nick, too bad you didn’t get a picture of him in that get up, it would have gone viral……

  9. Hilarious. Would have made a great video or picture.

  10. I thought I was going a little much, I use heavy gloves and keep my hose in a heavy bag.

  11. Thanks for the laugh, friend! I really needed it today.

  12. On the practical side, did you tell the newbie to dump a little gray water first to check the hose and then dump the black and then the rest of the gray? I can tell you from personal experience, it a hold lot easier to clean up a little gray water than black water from a loose fitting, leaking hose, etc 🙂

  13. That must have been a sight to see. My theory is just get the job done, then wash up afterwards.
    I’ve never seen anyone use rubber gloves while wiping their ass. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone wiping their ass, I do not use rubber gloves when cleaning up from #2.
    I’ve never seen a parent done PPE (Personal Protective Equipment such as gloves, mask, etc) when changing their baby’s diaper after a nasty discharge due to spinach.
    I did have an accident once, I was going to dump gray water on the ground at my house (which was legal for me to do). When I uncapped the sewer connector, liquid and some solids came out of the opening. The black tank’s electronic valve was open. Once I realize what was going on, I quickly closed the black tank.
    Now what was I going to do? Get a shovel to scoop it up and dump it back into the commode? I did scoop up the solids and place them in a plastic garbage sack. That went into the trash can with my dog’s poop bags. The rest got washed away with lots of water.
    Thanks for the chuckle.

  14. You made me laugh so hard I almost peed myself.

  15. after a while it becomes just another chore. I just make sure that everything is connected correctly and open it up. Sometimes in tight quarters I do waIt until the neighbors are inside or gone before I pull the handle, just out of courtesy.

  16. Oh that was hysterical!! I feel like doing that sometimes, my least favorite job so hubs does it 99.9% of the time but if he’s not around, I CAN do it.

  17. oh the memories. Tent campers till last year. Bought a used 5er that had been setting for almost 3 years. Had it inspected and headed out for our first trip to learn everything. Never had hot water, furnace or BLACK tanks! 4 days of rain, storm and tornado warnings! Day before leaving, got all the hoses out and getting ready to dump. Did I mention pouring rain! Got all set, started to remove the cap and you guessed it…..POO is coming out. Quick put cap on and think about what to do, in the pouring rain! 55 gal Trash bag with hole cut for head. Double gloves. Goggles. Pouring rain. Looked like one of those Ebola doctors. Slowly removed the cap and let it drain into the hose. When it slowed, quickly put the hose on. Not too much POO hit the ground but it was a little messy. In the pouring rain. Turned out to be a dried out valve and not stuck open. Cleaned up the mess. Cleaned up me! Some bleach on the POO and rinse the area. In the pouring rain. Actually, the rain was a blessing as it kept the crowd of curious onlookers away till all was done.

  18. Great story from our beloved storyteller. Nobody can spin a yarn like you do.

  19. I laughed so hard that I’m sure the neighbors think I’ve gone crazy. Thank you.

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