Today is excruciating; yesterday was excruciating; chances are better than even that tomorrow will be excruciating, too. You can refresh the election results endlessly and you can scroll Twitter until your brain melts, but my strongest recommendation for how to spend at least some of your time this week is to watch YouTube videos of a guy who likes to clear out drains.
There’s more than one drain-cleaner on YouTube, but my favorite is a man (real name unclear, and he rarely shows his face) whose account is called post 10. In his spare time, he drives around the Northeast — usually New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine — locating stubbornly clogged grates and sewers and then persistently, calmly clearing them out with a rake. Decked out in waders and a bright-yellow safety jacket, he often arrives at flooded streets and begins removing debris from the storm drains. He stands in calf-deep water, hacking away at a pile of heavy, waterlogged leaves while cars zip through the nearby flood, soaking him.
He has a real fondness for culverts, those large cement drainage pipes, and he likes to tromp through the woods looking for drainage systems blocked by roots and leaves.
It can be hard to imagine how soothing these are until you watch one, but they are exquisitely pleasurable. The appeal is akin to the genre of skin-care problem videos, that realm of pimple popping, earwax removal, and ingrown-hair excision, but it takes place on a much larger scale. (Also there’s less pus.) This man surveys a large flooded area, locates the source of the problem, and then slowly fixes it. The fix is simple and physical, and the results are dramatic and fast. As a drain gets cleared, whirlpools often start forming in the stagnant water, powerful siphons, progress given visible form. Even when it’s translated into a digital YouTube experience, there’s something primal about it.
In perhaps my favorite video, Drain Guy looks out over a large manmade lake. It has flooded over its banks; there’s a huge drain on one end designed to keep the lake at a certain water level, but it’s completely blocked by leaves and muck. It takes this guy the better part of an hour to clear it out, and what starts as a small swirling whirlpool gradually escalates into a roaring current so massive that he has to spring out of the way as the drain grate actually starts to flex.
I love many things about this video. I love the remarkable satisfaction of seeing such a dramatic result, and the sheer mesmerizing experience of watching thousands of gallons of water go rushing by. I love the long quietness of it — he’s not a constant talker. But I also love the short bursts of exasperation. Why does no one else do this? How could the residents have let it get this bad? I love the video’s caption, which ends with the line, “A shovel would not work well for this job, so stop commenting that.” I love that he has merch, too.
Mostly, though, I love how this and other post 10 videos reliably make my heart rate go down, my breathing slow, and my teeth unclench. Just for a little bit.