Riding my bike about town today, I take a great shortcut through an industrial area that is pretty dead on the weekends. My travels take me past the Alpenrose Diary processing plant, and the first thing you notice before you can clearly identify what kind of business it is, is the stench of sour milk, sitting heavy in the summer heat and the pit of your stomach. After you get past the initial gag reflex, closer inspection into the gated facility yields many dirty trucks, with logos and identifying markings peeling or scraping off. The only semi-clear spot on these trucks is the winshield from the wipers so the driver could see where he was delivering his putrid cargo. The actual processing plant itself was a reflection of the trucks, rusty valves and pipes, big milk (or milk by-product) tanks that look like they've leaked on the rivets that hold the tanks together, rusty drips timelessly cascading down the sides. And the whole time that smell doesn't quit. It's not too bad in the winter, and I guess it's better than having an ammonia factory or a crematory nearby.
I worked on the same block as a crematory, and the first time I smelled it was on a warm day in late spring. I worked in a glass factory so all the bay doors were open, and a hot stale gritty breeze blew through some of the throughways inside the factory. At first, I thought they were preparing BBQ at this cafeteria nearby that we would all eat at. Some of the people I worked with had menus at their workstation, so I looked at Don's lunch menu for the cafeteria:
Lunch Menu - Wednesday
- Chicken Cordon Bleu
- Lamb and Rice
- Vegetarian Pot Pie
- all w/ steamed vegetables or potato
- Build-your-own Salad Bar
- ala carte sandwiches
No BBQ. How odd! Don came back over to his work area, and I asked "Do you smell BBQ?" He replied, "No, but it smells like they're cremating dogs again down the street." Sickened to my stomach, I asked him to elaborate. It seems that on Wednesdays, they fire up the furnace and cremate pets for the SE and NE Portland area. The BBQ started to smell more distinctly like burning hair and flesh. I wanted to puke, and the smell was present for my entire shift, from about 8:30 AM until the time I left. I was recounting this incident to my friend, but didn't mention the pet cremation part yet, and she interrupted and said, "Yeah, they cremated my friend there, we had a service there a couple of years ago." Blegh. From a pratical and space saving point of view, I suppose cremation is efficent and space conscious. It seems like a better alternative then being put into a box into the ground to rot. It was just gross that I had to smell it all day, I felt like I was ingesting someone's soul.