By Russ and Tiña De Maris
The old joke about, “Did you get your driver’s license at Walmart?” has a new variation as far as we’re concerned: “Did you buy your engineering license through Craigslist?” As RVers, you’ve probably had an experience like ours that leads to such a question. Here’s the scenario:
The days of free dump stations are getting pretty scarce. If you have to pay to dump, you’d think the charges would lead to better dump stations. We rolled into a TA Travel Center in Corning, California, a while ago. The outfit boasts of “free RV dump with fuel fill up.” Well, we crunched the numbers and determined that the higher cost of fuel was offset by the free dump. In the end, we’re not sure if numbers on a calculator take into account the whole picture.
After filling up the truck, we drove around to the dump station, set up parallel to the fuel islands. A big yellow curb, probably 10″ high or so, surrounded the dump station. The set up was laid out in such a fashion that the only approach to the dump station puts your RV on a slant — the downhill side of which is to the passenger side of the rig. Since your dump port is more than likely on the driver’s side of the rig, you’re automatically at a disadvantage, as gravity will mandate at least some of your holding tank contents will stubbornly refuse to evacuate your tanks.
So the chief sanitary engineer in our traveling circus hooked up the dump hose to the rig, grumbling about the slant, and then encountered the next trick: Run the hose up the curb, across a slab, and then up yet another curb that surrounded the dump station’s port. In total, the tanks contents had to go uphill, then downhill.
Grabbing the black water handle, all went well for a few minutes, until the last of the black water contents refused to make the uphill climb to clear the hose. Grabbing the hose to “milk” it out, the hapless skipper suddenly discovered a previously unknown maintenance issue: The dump hose had chaffed and worn where it attached to the fitting at the RV end. That nasty old black water came splooshing out of the hose and making a hideous mess on the parking lot pavement.
Thank heavens, at least the “engineer” had thought to include a hosepipe at the station. Grabbing the rinse hose, your intrepid reporter began to wash the gross-and-grotty mess off the pavement. But to where? Down the slanted pavement to — not a pavement grate — there wasn’t one — just yards and yards of concrete. Can you say, “Crawl under your RV and hide?”
Cleaning up as best as able under the circumstances, the thought hit: What is it with engineers these days? It seems they all need to keep the old plumbers’ adage in mind: “Water don’t run uphill, and don’t lick your fingers.”
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