Somewhat true story

This is all true, mostly.

The building I work in was built in the 1960s. It was built thirty miles outside the Twin Cities, as all air traffic control centers were. (Thirty miles was deemed far enough away in the event of nuclear war. “Far enough away for what?” was always my question. But whatever thinking brought about this decision is lost to time and history.)

The town my center is in was told that the center was A Good Thing, that it would Bring Jobs. When the jobs it brought were all given to people hired from elsewhere in the country, the town was rightly miffed. “Janitor” was not the sort of job the town had held in mind.

But the town had told some untruths in turn. The prime land sold to the federal government for a song was, as it turned out, a swamp.

The facility was built there anyway. This was what had been purchased, this is where building would occur.

Every year, water was mopped and vacuumed out of the basement. The basement, it should be noted, is where the computers are housed. About ten years ago permanent pumps were installed around the foundation of the building. Vast, roaring things a dozen feet underground. These pumps operate year-round, day and night, without ceasing. The pumps keep the water of the Rambling River flood basin from the multi-million-dollar national airspace system.

These pumps feed directly into the storm sewer system, underground. The water never sees the light of day. From the storm sewer it feeds into the Rambling River, and hence onward until it eventually reaches some portion of the Mississippi, I expect. That’s where water in my neck of the woods goes.

Yet, day and night, I can hear the water gushing from the pumps into the storm sewers. I can hear it coming from all the storm sewer grates in the parking lot and surrounding the building. It’s a noise halfway between ocean waves and a firehose, echoing and constant. And it comes from the sewers.

When I walk past the storm sewers — especially at night — I think of little Georgie Denbrough from Stephen King’s novel, It. When I am feeling brave, or stubborn, I walk right in front of the dark-mouthed grates.

Most of the time, though, I walk a little distance away. And I don’t look into them. Because, really, what would I do if I saw something?

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3 Responses

  1. Well, it is 30 miles away, a sudden power loss and no radio or cell communication might just make for an interesting story starter. Care to see what’s in that gaping black maw of a gate? Mwahahahah!

  2. Your helpfulness, as always, is duly noted.

  3. I live but to serve…

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