Right after high school I went to technical college for a degree in refrigeration and heating servicing. I should have picked the path I wanted but I listened to my mother and got a technical degree in LaCrosse.

I knew this field was not for me because I was afraid of electricity and the only tool I used properly was the "idiot stick." This was my uncle's term for a shovel. I went to work for my uncle's plumbing and heating business.

Being a apprentice plumber nearly killed me on numerous occasions. Crawling in an attic to cut out a vent pipe and encountering a hive of bees and 38 stings later was my initiation to plumbing my first week of work.

I can still remember ratting a sewer manually once and really throwing some muscle in to the clog. I remember my uncle's words exactly. "Bear down white child and get that clog out!" I pulled a long length of the rat out of the pipe and slammed it in there as hard as I could. The clog broke free but the tail end of the rat came around and slapped my uncle right upside the head and knocked him on his butt. He was so mad his eyes almost popped out of his head. I stayed clear of sewer rats for a while.

A new week brought a new dilemma. A guy bought an old burned out farm house and the plans of the house and the septic field and tank were burnt up in the fire. I was handed my tool. The idiot stick and told to find the septic tank. Three hours later and numerous holes dug I found it.

If you all aren't familiar with septic tank I will paint a verbal photo for you. It is a cement tank about 6 feet deep and 12 round. It typical has a lid on it. The lid is cement also and typically there is a re-bar handle on the top of the lid. The lid I would say weighted 50 pounds typically. The lid was there so when the septic tank needed its annual maintenance the truck with a huge vacuum cleaner like hose could suck up the contents. This septic tank had been ignored and certainly needed the contents removed.

I cleared the dirt from around lid and gave the lid a might pull. It didn't move even an iota. My uncle was hurrying me to get that lid off because the "Honey Wagon" was already on the way there to vacuum up the **** and etc. I took a look at the lid and there was tar holding the lid on. I chiseled and pulled and chiseled and pulled until I finally got the lid to move a little. I then heard the infamous "Bear Down White Child Statement."

I pulled for all I was worth and then it happened. The chiseling of the lid and surrounding area to get rid of the tar had weakened the top of the septic tank. The top of the tank disintegrated under my feet. It happened so quickly I could not let go of the fifty pound lid.

I was submerged in the septic tank. I let go of the lid promptly and stood up. My head was above the contents just barely on my tip toes. My uncle and cousin were laughing so hard they literally fell down and were rolling on the ground. I went to pull myself out of the tank and took a breath before I crawled out and the sewer gas replaced what oxygen I had in my lungs and I was immediately light headed. I clawed my way out of my predicament and laid there for a while and got real air in my lungs and then I cussed both of them out for not helping me out.

They said I was too dirty to ride in the truck so they hooked up a hose and hosed me down in 25 degree weather until they thought I was clean enough to ride in the back of the pick-up 10 miles home to take a shower. I took a dozen showers that day and burnt the clothes I was wearing. It took two weeks of blowing my nose to get the smell out of my nasal passages.

I enlisted in the Army that next spring. I was a poor plumber.