The Slant in the Sewer: A Report


Slant Reporter Adam Doner here, with an exclusive exposé on the Nashville sewer system. That’s right: no other Vanderbilt publication is reporting on our most used and least appreciated public utility. None have even thought about it!

To be entirely transparent, I hadn’t thought of it either before I fell into that open manhole right outside of Commons. Now that I’m here though, I can see what a great opportunity has been presented to me. It’s just like my mom always says: “When life drops you in a sewer, write a Slant article about it or something. I don’t really care.” Thanks, Mom!

To say the sewer stank is tolerable would be a violation of journalistic integrity. To be quite frank, it smells downright horrible. I don’t know exactly what I expected, but the stench is startling, breathtaking, in a very literal and unpleasant way. I tried with all my might to avoid inhaling such an awful odor, but I only held out for 35 seconds before necessity dictated I breathe. Why, you might ask, does the sewer smell so horrendous? For those uninformed readers out there, the sewer is the passage through which all bodily waste travels en route to its final destination. I have had the privilege of seeing this process in action since my tumble and can confirm this is indeed what goes on in sewers. Yep… definitely that.

A pervasive dampness accompanies the stench of the sewer. I have never encountered a more moist location in my time on God’s green Earth, and I’ve been in more than my fair share of swamps and saunas. Every surface has a profound slipperiness about it that is just inescapable. Each attempt of mine to climb back up to civilization has been hindered by the thick layer of slime coating each ladder rung, and also probably my complete lack of exercise for the last six months. However, I have been squatting for the past while to avoid getting sludge on my jeans, so I’m already on my way back to peak physical condition. It seems I’ll have a lot of spare time to devote to my improvement. Besides being preposterously repulsive, the sewer slime does a serious number to electronic devices. I dropped my phone in a puddle of an unidentified substance minutes ago, and it’s been unresponsive since. Remarkable!

If you’re looking for a place where you can go yell and scream your head off without disturbing anyone, the sewer is the place for you. Unfortunately, I’ve been seeking a way to return to civilization and want someone to hear me when I shout for assistance, so the sewer does not exactly suit my needs. It seems to be fairly insulated from the outside world — all my desperate cries for help have been drowned out by the sounds of traffic overhead. Many times, I’ve confused my own echo for the sounds of some good Samaritan coming to deliver me from my slimy prison; many times, I’ve found myself disappointed. Except for a slow, constant dripping of water, the sewer is nearly silent. I swear I can hear my own subconscious, and I don’t like what I hear.

Not much light finds its way into the sewer. The only source of illumination where I am is the open manhole I tumbled through earlier, and even that one is disappearing as the sun goes down and night approaches. I’ve yet to find any sort of light source in the sewer itself. Though I can’t see them, I can feel the rats swarming around my feet. I’ve tried stomping and clapping to scare them away, but I think they can sense the fear deep in my heart. Nothing deters them. Nothing at all. But hey, it’s company.

That’s pretty much all there is to cover as far as the sewer goes. Is it unexciting? Sure. Extremely unpleasant? Definitely. Utterly despair-inducing? Oh, unbelievably so.  But it’s completely necessary for a functioning community.  I’m glad to have had the opportunity to bring more attention to this backbone of society. Being stuck in a sewer isn’t all bad, right? …right?

oh god please help



  • March 14, 2017