Has something scary occurred to you while on the job? With Halloween around the corner, I thought it would be fun to discuss scary moments on the job.
Some of us believe in the supernatural and others do not. Some have elaborate stories about ghostly encounters or others have just had to deal with an unusual client that gives them the creeps. In the radon mitigation business, we have seen many unusual situations. Radon mitigation system installers are in hundreds or even thousands of homes every year. Some homes are new and some are very old, some homes are in suburban neighborhoods and some are at the end of a long dirt road. For a radon mitigation technician, the consensus probably is that crawlspaces are the scariest places for us to work in.
Some homes are built above dirt or gravel crawlspaces. Many people live in their homes without ever even entering these dark caverns that exist below the floor. Many crawlspaces are confined spaces that you have to crawl on your belly to navigate. Most have little or no lighting and all are just a slight bit scary for even the toughest among us.
In radon mitigation, we block cancer causing radon gas from seeping through the crawlspace to the livable areas of the home. We seal the crawlspace with a thick layer of plastic to create an airtight seal. After the plastic crawlspace membrane is in place, we install the radon mitigation pipes and fan to depressurize the soil below this membrane. When working on a crawlspace job, a radon mitigation system installer can spend up to two days crawling around in these dark spaces. For me, one of my scariest on the job moments happened while working in a dark, musty crawlspace with no light except for the headlamp around my head.
It was a cold November morning outside of Chicago, IL. A fellow radon mitigation technician and myself were installing a radon mitigation system in a standard two-story house with a partial basement. We walked down to the basement and you could smell the musty odor emanating from the two-foot doorway that lead to the crawlspace below half of the house. The hinges of the small door let out a bloodcurdling squeak as we slowly opened it to see the unknown. As we shined our flashlight into the dark abyss, the wall of cobwebs was so thick that the light could barely penetrate. This was going to be one of those crawlspaces that us radon mitigators dread. This is an important part of the job so we proceeded to seal the crawlspace as we do with every radon system install of this kind. After several hours of placing a layer of plastic and sealing it to the wall I felt a tickle on the back of my head. I scratched my head thinking that it was just another wire or something dangling from the floor joists above me. I continued sealing the plastic to the foundation wall of the crawlspace when suddenly the headlamp that I was wearing ran out of batteries. This is not a good thing when it’s pitch black and you’re a five minute belly crawl to the crawlspace doorway! I yelled out to my fellow radon technician, who was working about forty feet away from me on the other side of the crawl. I knew it would take him about ten minutes to navigate the crawlspace to get me a set of batteries for my lamp so I sat there and waited in the dark. Not a minute goes by and I feel that tickle on my head again. I scratch it again assuming it was a cobweb or something. I continue to wait dark. Finally I see a flash of light, my co-worker was on his way with the batteries! He makes it about half way and I tossed him my headlamp to get it working again. He lights it up and tosses it back to me. I shined the light his way and he is looking at me. His face is pale and he looks like a deer in headlights! I look behind me, there wasn’t a ghost or anything so I look back and ask him what’s up? He immediately replies, “there’s a tarantula in your hair!!” I immediately flail around, brushing my hair with my hands. I could feel the weight of the thing as I flicked it off of my head. I shine the light down on the crawlspace plastic to be certain that it wasn’t going to crawl back and climb up my pant leg or something. I watch as the the giant spider scurries away! Who knows where it went but I'm sure it sat a watched me as I finished working the rest of the day.
Now this crawlspace hitchhiker wasn’t actually a tarantula but it was a massive spider! To this day, I do not enter a crawlspace without thinking about what might be living down there. I continue to itch, even as I type this blog, from the thought of that spider sitting in my hair while working on that crawlspace radon mitigation project.
What are some scary things that have happened to you at work? Do you have a job that is just plain scary? Comment about them, we would like to hear your scary stories.