UNION BRIDGE -- Less than 24 hours into his new job as sewer operator, Fred Haifley was introduced to the intricacies of extricating underwear from the town pumps.
"He got his first pair of panties and about five hours of overtime," said Town Clerk Kathleen D. Kreimer. "A most unpleasant job."
When Haifley left Friday, his first day, all systems were go. During a routine check Saturday, he found an irregularity in main sewer pump No. 2.
"Things were backing up alarmingly," he said.
Like his predecessors before him, the operator donned hip boots, waded into the blockage and tore the pump apart. He emerged unscathed and unapproachable after fearlessly clearing away underwear.
"Flushing underwear -- it's a crime against nature," he said, after digging inside the pump for hours. "They seemed bigger than a size 36 to me!"
As regularly as once a week, a resident flushes a pair of size 36 men's white cotton briefs into the system, Kreimer said. The elastic waistband wraps around a rod inside the pump. Within minutes, the system no longer flows smoothly.
Previous operators, who have retrieved many an errant pair, still have no suspects.
"The guys know the size and the brand name," Kreimer said. "They always check the waistband, hoping to find a name."
Haifley said he might assign an investigative agent to sniff out the culprit.