There’s a reason I don’t like Tuesdays …

August 19, 2008 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Life 

Today’s story includes the phrase “After Hazmat left …”

This morning I was sitting in front of my computer, looking into the trends in IT as part of the job search.  I felt a bit off, and my nose has been running, so I decided to take my temperature.

I went into the bathroom and got out the trusty 20+ year old oral thermometer.  Back to the computer, wait 5 minutes.  98.8 – a little high for me because I run about 98.0 usually.  I guess I’m slightly sick.

Back to the bathroom.  Take thermometer.  Wash off.  Rinse with rubbing alcohol.  Rinse off the alcohol.  Shake until the reading goes down …. BAM!

I hit the thermometer on the edge of the sink.  The entire mercury-containing bulb was gone.  I put the thermometer remains down and started looking for it.  I failed to find it, but did notice the little tiny round silver things in the sink.

So I called the township Health Department for instructions.  The head nurse is on the phone – she’ll call you back.  In the meantime I’ve looked online and seen all kinds of scary instructions.  I turned off the air conditioning.

Twenty minutes later I haven’t heard from the nurse.  I decided to call the police non-emergency line.  They transfer me to the fire dispatcher for the county.  He sends a truck.

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The deputy chief and I go upstairs and look.  Yup – mercury.  We have to wait for the Hazmat chief to arrive.  Now I’m outside and not even allowed back in to get a hat.

The Hazmat chief arrives about 10 minutes later (after resolving the confusion over my street and a similar sounding street), goes upstairs and looks, and decides that the amount is tiny.  He showed me how to use a flashlight to see the mercury – the little spheres light up like a Christmas tree in light.  He decided that most of the mercury went down the drain, which is fine (it’ll get treated).

He leaves, and I am left home with the air conditioning off (my choice) waiting, and the bedroom door closed.  The Hazmat chief promised to come back at 1:30 with a few guys to finish the cleanup.  I have lunch.

1:15 arrives and he’s back with his team.  Cats back into basement.  They head upstairs and use a laboratory vacuum pump to suck the little bits of mercury into a flask.  My comb had mercury on it, so it’s trash.  After doing that, he cleaned my sink for me and helped me roll up the rugs to be run through the wash (no mercury fell below counter level – this was just a precaution).

After Hazmat left, I completed an outplacement firm teleconference, and then cleaned the bathroom.  I got all of the remaining glass up (found one piece) and didn’t spot any more mercury.

I’m beginning to be afraid of Tuesdays.