8.31.2005

I Change Air Filters


You know, air filters...like the ones you change in your own home...like the one pictured here. Except, I change them in larger air conditioner units...sometimes units as large as a bedroom.


Monday, I went with my friend (with whom and for whom I change filters as a side-job) to an Entergy coal burning power plant. We go every-other month to change just about every filter on the property. It's a dirty job...coal dust everywhere...hot as a beast in the summer...and colder than anywhere I've ever been in the winter. Although, there are some perks, like seeing the gargantuan bulldozers used to push the coal around in the coal yard. The blades are almost twice as tall as me.


However, there's one particular part of the job that's quite...interesting...and that is changing the two filters up in the smoke stack. Ahhh, the smoke stack...let me try to illustrate via photos just how tall this smoke stack is.
Here's a picture of just the smoke stack:


Not too bad, huh? Well, let's put in a better perspective:


In this photo, the building in the red circle is the actual plant. It's at least 9 stories tall (and each story is probably taller than the average floor in an office bldg.) Now, you see the two cooling towers, one of which is circled yellow? As you can see, they're almost twice as tall as the plant. Then there's the smoke stack - circled blue. Over twice as tall as the cooling towers. TWICE AS TALL! I'm estimating 40 to 50 stories EASY!

Now, to make it evey more interesting...the 2 filters are in an area within this smoke stack that is approximately where the green arrow is pointing. But wait, I still don't think you get it...you don't just glide up there in some oversized cargo elevator...oh no...that would be easy. Instead, here's your mode of transportation:
The "elevator", if you want to call it that, is a metal cage which might hold 3 skinny men. It's strapped to the inside wall of this smoke stack by nothing more than the track of railing you see ascending the wall. That's it. No elevator shaft...no safety nets...no nothing. You just get in, close the doors, and push the "UP" button. Oh, and pray. I always pray...always. The first few times I rode this death trap, I could only close my eyes and stand perfectly still...oh, and pray. Now, I'm at least a bit more comfortable that I can look around...I often read the expiration date on the elevator safety certificate, which has normally been expired for about 6 months. That's realy encouraging. Or, I bravely peer out the cracks in the doors and watch my slow ascent into the upper abyss, as objects on the ground shrink before my eyes. Why is this even an issue for me? Why all the fuss? Why be a sissy about it all? Here's why: I suffer from acrophobia!


ac·ro·pho·bi·a ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kr-fb-)n.
An abnormal fear of high places.

acro·phobe n. acro·phobic (-fbk) adj. & n.[Download Now or Buy the Book]

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.



1 comment:

Kenny "the Tigershark" said...

For the record, I would'nt call it "abnormal". I think anything over 3 stories with nothing but a thin piece of metal between you and the ground is about the threshold of fear, and that's normal.

Abnormal would be if you needed to wear a parachute to bed to catch you in case you fall out.