After two months of the City Works department dumping asphalt dirt on the street in front of my house, I had to do something. Numerous calls to the city had produced no results. My requests to dump the dirt elsewhere were diverted to this and that office and were ultimately ignored. They had found a good dumping spot and usually as soon as the workers went through one pile of dirt, another one would arrive.
I don’t know why they picked my house but one day a giant dump truck came, found a space where no cars were parked and dumped the black stinky dirt in a giant mound. As they dumped the dirt, particles floated up into the air, dusting my rose bushes and my newly washed car. Perhaps I was making a mountain of a molehill but after weeks and weeks of this it was getting very annoying.
There was a constant petroleum smell that hung in the air and I couldn’t help wonder how the asphalt fumes were affecting my health and the health of my family. So I looked it up. StatefundCa.com provided this information:
Breathing asphalt fumes is the most common method of exposure. The acute (immediate) health effects of asphalt fumes include; headache, skin rash, fatigue, eye and throat irritation, and cough. Exposure to asphalt fumes (and the solvents in them) over long periods of time (chronic exposure) may cause lung and stomach cancer. Long-term contact of asphalt with your skin can cause pigment change, which is made worse by sunlight exposure.
It’s never a good idea to read symptomatic medical information of any kind. I then started experiencing asphalt fatigue, asphalt cough and asphalt fume toxic exposure syndrome, all probably the result of my active imagination. As I continued to note any changes in pigment in my skin, I knew I had to come up with a plan.
I live in what I call an iffy part of town. It’s the kind of place that artists and students flock to for the cheap rents but know they have to remain alert to the criminal element in their midst. You just know that you can’t leave things out without expecting someone to take it. I thought I’d just use that to my advantage.
So one dark night I crept out my house with a sign offering “free dirt” and planted it on top of the mound of dirt. Within five minutes a pickup truck drove up and three darkly clad men started shoveling the dirt into their truck. They took all the dirt and I didn’t do anything to stop them. I have no idea what they did with that dirt, but I hope they put it to good use.