Every job has its difficulties, but some professions require something special from its employees. We polled our viewers on Facebook, asking for the dirtiest and toughest jobs in the U.P. In our special report series, "Somebody's gotta do it," we'll give you a birds eye view. First up, we're going right down the pipes of your home sewage system. You may not give much thought about what happens after this. But someone does, and it isn't always who you might expect.
"People say you are not what I expected to jump out of that truck," says Kate Steider, sole owner and operator of U.P Septic of Manistique, but you can just call her "The Terd Herder." She broke into the sewage about 10 years ago when she went out in the field with the previous owner of the business and got hooked. "I did it for about a week and enjoyed it, so I decided it was a good opportunity for me," Steider says.
Ninety percent of her job is cleaning residental sewage tanks; she does a couple a day. She says the smell isn't that bad, but what she finds inside the tanks can be surprising.UpperMichigansSource "Tent stakes to a full tent, a View-Master, which some kid must have had to drop in the hole because you can't flush it," she said. "The bike tire was, in hindsight, the weirdest because I couldn't pull it back out of the hole. I don't know how it got in there." Another challenge deals with pounds of sand that fall from the ground to the bottom of septic tanks, which get sucked up into her truck. Every three weeks, she's got to scrape it out. That's no easy task because she can't get too close, and it's actually illegal for her to enter the tank. Methane gas makes this part of the job potentially deadly. "Unknowingly going into that tank will just suck the air right out of you, and you will not know. It'll just overcome you, you'll faint and oftentimes it'll result in death," she says. Despite the smell, hard labor and hazards, Kate says she loves her job. "Somebody's gotta be able to flush the toilet," she says.