CINCINNATI — Roto-Rooter surveyed its field technicians throughout North America to find the strangest items recovered from pipes, toilets and trenches in 2005. The result was a laundry list of items ranging from live animals to precious valuables. Of those items, five in particular rose to the top of the unusual list.
To a plumber it's all in a day's work but to ordinary folks the list of the top five offers a fascinating look into what a service technician sees from day to day, the company said.
- An explosive situation in Vicksburg, Miss. A Roto-Rooter crew excavating a residential sewer main dug up a live Civil War cannon shell. It was believed to be leftover from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1863 siege of Vicksburg. An Army Ordnance disposal team later removed it.
- Only eight lives left now. In Greensboro, N.C., Bruce Shockley and his crew rescued a cat from a storm sewer. "Angel" jumped from her elderly owner's arms into the sewer. She became disoriented and couldn't get out. Angel spent 24 hours underground before the crew excavated through earth and concrete to rescue her.
- Rescuing a team of GI Joes. A Bloomington, Ill., 3-year-old decided to train his GI Joe in deep-water rescue techniques. When he didn't come back, the boy sent a few more after it. When they failed to return, he dispatched a fleet of Matchbox cars. Needless to say the GI Joes weren't exactly Navy SEAL material. Roto-Rooter plumber Michael Woggon recovered 15 toys from the drainpipe.
- Smuggler's blues. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, police called Roto-Rooter to recover a large stash of drugs and cash that a suspect flushed down a toilet just as the cops came in the front door. It took plumber John Dekker only minutes to recover all the evidence.
- Drinking problem? What drinking problem? In Sacramento, Calif., Roto-Rooter's Brek Ritzema and Scott Chapman were called to a business with a backed-up sewer main. Toilets and sinks were overflowing so the plumbers went to work on the clog. Finally, their equipment started pulling out myriad empty miniature liquor bottles — the kind served on airlines. An employee was apparently in the habit of drinking on the job and flushing the evidence.