I just read this, and had to share. It’s a first hand account of a guy who works on the chicago tour boat that got poop/urine dumped on it a while ago.
Today was one of the worst days I’ve ever had at work. Allow me to explain.
I work as deck crew for a sightseeing boat company in Chicago that does architecture tours on the river downtown. I had already worked two 15 hour days Friday and Saturday and intentionally showed up a half hour late this morning to try and squeeze another half hour of sleep in (I knew what had to be done in the morning on the boatthat I was on, because I left it eight hours previous, and knew how long setup would take). Needless to say, I was already ready to go home.
Then came the 1 o’clock architecture ride. 117 ticketed passengers on board plus an extra four who showed up on Michigan Avenue for a boat ride that actually launches out of Navy-�������-Pier, whom we were nice enough to let on for free.
We’re puttering down the river, we turn north at the junction and proceed, as we do on every tour, beneath the Kinzie Street bridge. Now, the bridges all have grated decking. You can look up and see the sky through them. In the Captain’s pre-tour safety announcements it’s usually mentioned one should not look up with your mouth open in wonder, since a car might go by and you might get an unpleasant “Taste of Chicago” ha ha ha. (The Taste of Chicago is an annual summer food festival held in Grant Park.)
Now, that really never actually ever happens. Not that I’ve ever seen. Today, of course, had to be different.
I’m relaxed in the pilot house with a crossword (since during the rides themselves I just sit while the people get their tour from the volunteer docent, and the crossword kept me awake) when I hear this splattering noise, like a heavy rain, and a few scattered yelps. I get up, go outside, and look out over the passengers seated on the deck.
The passengers on the left side are all wet, and appear horrified. Something behind the boat is raining through the bridge into the river.
“Shit,” I think, “some idiot Streets & San employee just went over with a street sweeper and soaked our passengers.”
Then I notice the passengers appear a lot more horrified than that.
“Oh my god!”
“It got in my mouth!”
The smell hits me. It’s old urine.
I look up onto the bridge and see a black coach bus, like the kinds old ladies take group vacations on, disappearing past the buildings. They had gone over the bridge, and being ignorant ����s probably decided they could skip a pisstank pumpout by just opening it into the river, through the bridge. Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time.
I said to the captain, “Turn the boat around. Now.”
Now, being the assigned deck crew on this ride, I have to handle this. The captain has to drive. Needless to say, I’m not entirely sure how to handle 60 people who all need to be sanitized and given antibiotic shots at once. We train to handle people falling into the water, heat stroke, shit like that, not a torrential downpour of human waste beneath Kinzie street.
All I can do at this point is hold my breath and give away every paper towel and work rag on the boat, and wait until I have a clear idea of exactly what to tell them as a whole. Some passengers are of course visibly distressed. Women have hair matted to their face, peoples clothing is sticking to them, babies are crying. I’m close to being sick all over the deck, and really worried that someone else is going to, because I know as soon as someone does it’s just going to be a domino wave of barfing that will sweep across the boat like a sickly sweet stomach shockwave.
Nobody did. Thank God for small favors (you know, the ones He thinks make up for shit like this).
These people, to put it bluntly, were very pissed off. Now I also get to be the company PR face, so like a good little worker bee I try and balance being as helpful and understanding and apologetic as I can, with helping to maintain the balance of the Bureaucratic Tower of Shit looming above me.
The captain’s already on the cell phone doing damage control. I’m to tell everyone they are, of course, granted full refunds, and anybody that needs anything extra on top of it because of what happened will get it. I’m specifically told to mention that while we can’t call ten ambulances down because the situation is not life threatening, a lot of them are going to want to visit a hospital sometime soon. What I don’t mention is some of the shit these people will now have to worry about, ranging from tetanus to hepatitis. The best we can do for them is pay for a cab to Northwestern Hospital for anyone who needs it.
Then come the usual asshats.
“We want a representative on the dock, to take names of everyone involved in this.”
“How is all this stuff of mine going to be replaced? There’s no way I’m going to pay for this.”
“You coming out here and telling us that we can have refunds and cab fare to a hospital is downright ������� insulting. I want a bus for these people.”
( You want a bus? Excuse me, then, Spartacus, while I pull one out of my ass. )
“Refunds? A lot of us have jewelry on that’s now soaked in urine.”
( I wasn’t aware gold could be used to soak up liquids. )
“I have a flight to catch at five, and now I’ve got urine in my phone, in my clothes.”
You have three ������� dots on your sleeve, and let me remind you this is not our fault. It’s not as if the captian saw that shit pouring down and drove under it anyway.
The problem, of course, was that little bridge joke. It’s funny only if it doesn’t happen. Now that they’ve all got that “Taste of Chicago”, people have the idea in their heads this shit happens all the time and that we know about it, and are therefore to be held accountable for what is in reality a rather ������ up act of God (see above).
We’re back at the dock, and an army of urine-soaked people march on the ticket office. Great, they’re gone and now they’re Diane’s problem.
“Well,” I thought, “The dock guys are gonna help clean up the boat, and I get to go home early.”
Nope. No such luck. As the five of us, including the bartender on the boat, are scrubbing off all 104 chairs and the deck, The captain reappears.
“Who’s been telling people there’s no 3 o’clock?”
“Not I,” says I, then I stop in mid scrub. “Wait … there’s a 3 o’clock?”
“Yeah, they want to send us back out on the 3, and then the 5 after it.”
“Are you kidding me? My shoes and pants legs are soaked in piss and boat soap and they want us to turn the boat around in a half hour for another god damned ride?”
“Yep, ‘fraid so.”
The Bureaucratic Tower of Shit, I think, is defined as people at the top having no idea what’s actually going on at the bottom, and vice versa.
A call is placed to my father, who now has to make a forty minute drive into the city with a change of clothes for me. (He didn’t make it by 3, and I had to spend the next 90 minutes trapped on the boat in ������� nasty clothes thanks to the main office and their money.)
Meantime, though, as I scrub my way to the back end (stern), I’m basically running the hose directly into the all-weather speaker to try and get rid of the smell back there. It won’t go away. I then look up at the American flag flying off the pole on the stern.
Ah, shit. It’s soaked too.
We cut it down, I take it and make sure I fold it proper, with the triangles and shit, and then of course we smuggle it around past the pilot house where the passengers won’t see us placing it into a trash bag to deal with later.
Cleanup continues, until a guy on the dock wants to talk to me. I’ve had people coming up constantly and asking things, what do I do about this, where do I go for that, and I just point at the ticket office and say “Talk to them.”
Before I can do that to him he says, “Hi. I’m a photographer for the Chicago Tribune.”
Company policy is that all press stuff has to be directed to our main office. The main office is out in Palatine and nobody there knows a god damned thing about what goes on on the dock anyway besides how much money we make them.
He adds, “I’ve been getting some good shots of you all cleaning up the boat, and I thought it was touching the way you still folded the flag properly. Can I get your name?”
A 3 o’clock, huh? Yeah, you can get my name. I’ll spell the son of a bitch.
So now at least it’s over, I’m showered, and I may be in the paper tomorrow.
Any Chicagoons have any ideas as to who might have shat on our boat? Black coach bus, gold letters (nobody got a chance to read them). A few people independently described it as a “Rock and Roll bus,” which I can’t really explain the meaning behind but it seems important.
I finished the crossword except for 7 letters too.
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