They spray the perfume

by Spencer Wright

They spray the perfume to mask the smell of the digging. They’re digging to reach bedrock, which is quite a ways down, cranes lowering hundreds of feet of cable into roughly rectangular holes, huge carbide-tipped cutting heads churning away to break up the moraine. If you did this dry, or worse yet lubricated with water, then the sides of the holes would collapse; you don’t want this, so you pump in drilling mud to create a slurry which can then be pumped back out, and the holes maintain their integrity and end up as neat orthogonal shafts plunging from the chaotic cityscape into the stable geology below it.

The drilling mud is made of bentonite clay, which apparently smells bad, though I cannot confirm this due to the perfume that they spray. I am also having a hard time confirming what the perfume smells like. I have asked the site’s guard (or were they just someone standing around the entrance?) if they knew what the perfume was called, but they didn’t know, and other than it smelling vaguely of hardware store potpourri, I don’t really have words to describe the scent.

Anyway, it is sprayed from a series of nozzles perched atop the wall on the site’s perimeter. They’re rather conspicuous on the eastern side in particular; that would be Nevins Street, which has very little else to capture my attention on the blocks between Butler and Degraw, and even if there was something to pull my eyes away from the plumes of perfume, curling down over the forest green NYC construction fence, there would still be the fact that those plumes – slightly dispersed but still quite moist and fragrant – often end up directly on the path my face takes as I take the first few pedal strokes and come around the corner on my way home from the gym.

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