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Poo Bear

Found by Eli Meyerhoff in Los Angeles, California

I work as a sanitary engineer for the City of Los Angeles’s Bureau of Sanitation, at their largest sewage treatment plant. We process 350 million gallons of wastewater each day. Some engineers in my office recently vacated their cubicles for cushier jobs downtown. Their spaces are now mostly empty except for a few stray pens and staplers, and to my surprise, one forgotten carousel of slides. The first slide I picked out of it was this one. On the back it says April 1976. None of the other thirty slides in the carousel were nearly as interesting, mostly technical and serious pictures of wastewater processes, like activated sludge and deflocculation. I can tell that this picture was taken at a wastewater plant (the balcony in the background is the same color and structure as the City of LA’s plant up in the Valley). But what is a bear doing in a sewage treatment plant? A yellow shirted man wearing a shiny plastic, bizzaro-disneyesque mask of what appears to be a brown bear, poses with his arm around an Asian gentleman, a much younger and less cynical version of the previous resident of the cubicle in which I found this slide. The Asian gentleman’s facial expression portrays a forced attempt at composure, while his left hand betrays how disconcerting it feels to be accosted on the job by a bear. I call him Poo Bear, patron saint of sewage treatment.