Well, somebody's gotta do it ... and Dave Blacklock actually enjoys it.
As owner of Best Portable Toilets, Blacklock delivers and services porta-potties throughout Jackson and Josephine counties — wherever outdoor toilets are in demand.
Job title: Portable toilet cleaner, hauler, owner of Best Portable Toilets
Job description: Empties porta-potties, cleans them, hauls the waste to treatment plant, runs the company
Salary: Undisclosed. His workers earn $9 an hour and up
Education: Two years of college in San Jose, Calif.
How long on job: 25 years, the last four as owner of Best Portable Toilets
Dream job: "This is one of the best jobs I ever had. I'm my own boss. I get to drive around and see the valley. I have time to do the things I want, like softball. It's pretty laid back. I love my job."
He parks his 800-gallon tanker truck beside an outhouse, pumps out the 60-gallon waste tank with a vacuum, sprays the whole thing down with antiseptic solution, especially the spots where folks have not been exactly careful — some do their business with their feet on the toilet seat (so there's no seat-to-skin contact), reducing their accuracy — and refills the 40-gallon flush tank with antiseptic flush solution.
"You think about the customer, now why would they do that, put their feet on the seat?" Blacklock says. "After they do that, no one can use it. It's a nasty deal to clean it up."
But even worse than that is cleaning up after vandals have tipped over an outhouse, which seems to be a sport almost as old as outhouses themselves.
"Kids. It's a natural target for them. You have to clean the whole thing to the top with chemical spray and suck it all out with the hose. Now that's a dirty job and it takes a long time," says Blacklock.
"What we have to do, if the toilet is going to be there a long time, we strap it down, so you can't tip it over."
OK, so the outdoor toilet biz has its drawbacks. But you have to look on the bright side, as Blacklock does: There's not a lot of competition threatening your job security — "it grew so fast, I had to quit my other job," he says — and once you get past the smell, "you get to be your own boss and make an essential contribution to this area, making sure everyone has a place to go."
Blacklock owns 230 to 250 porta-potties and his company services them about once every two weeks, charging $65 a month.
So, where does all that waste end up? Blacklock drives it north to a private treatment plant in Sutherlin, where it's treated by aeration and enzymes, he says, with the sludge going to grass farms.