One of the things I noticed at last week’s WASTECON at Long Beach, was the number of exhibits featuring goods or systems dealing with odor, dust, or litter...a healthy sign, in my humble opinion.
We all know how important it is to stay under the public’s highly perceptive radar, not just for the phone calls odor and litter incidents can provoke today, but for the long-term consequences as well, a situation that brings to mind a story from the past that illustrates the point most precisely.
A small private college in the Northeast, situated on a small lake that served as the local area’s water supply, was decked out in all its winter finery, with a coat of new snow covering the quadrangle and its surroundings to a depth of a foot or so.
Into that pristine wonderland came a troop of wags grown stir-crazy in the wake of the preceding storm, who in the dark of night suspended the hoof of a rhinoceros by ropes and made a track from the biology building to the lakeshore, where they poked a hole in the ice.
Next morning the college’s resident expert on large beasts confirmed the trail as the workings of a rhino, and without stopping to consider from where one might have come, called in the water utility, which promptly shut the system down and brought in divers to find and remove the interloper. The divers, despite the small size of the lake, found the task daunting, particularly so because of the short period of daylight, so after several days of trucked-in drinking water and no showers, our practical jokers decided to come clean (so to speak) about the hoax.
The water was turned back on, the public was informed as to the facts of the matter, the miscreants taken out and whipped (or whatever punishment small Northeast colleges deem appropriate), and the matter closed to the satisfaction of all…well not quite all.
For several months thereafter, the utility continued to receive complaints that the water tasted of rhinoceros…inviting the question as to just how the authors of such concerns were able to distinguish the taste from that of elephants or zebras.