“The woman standing at the back of the plane is about to piss her pants. I know this because five minutes ago she crawled over me and said, “I’m sorry to disturb you Mr. Rowe, but I’m about to piss my pants.” Sadly, the kid across the aisle beat her to it. No doubt about it. The whole plane smells of urine, and it’s not coming from the bathroom. It’s coming from the kid.
We’re on a CRJ700 – a Canadair Regional Jet flying from San Francisco to Kansas City. It’s a three hour flight, but it feels a lot longer. Why? Because the CRJ700 was designed by The Marquis de Sade. There’s only one bathroom on board, and it’s all the way in the back. One bathroom for 74 people. On a three-hour flight that was delayed on the tarmac for 35 minutes.
Seasoned travelers will immediately understand the implications, and behave accordingly. But most of my fellow passengers do not possess the institutional knowledge required to endure three and a half hours on a CRJ700. At the airport, they drink their breakfast beverages like it was any other day, enjoying their lattes and orange juice with impunity. Then they blithely board this long and skinny Tube of Despair with no sense of how a solitary toilet can conspire with a bad floor plan to humble the strongest among us. Once settled, many avail themselves of the beverage service, cruelly offered by a smiling flight attendant who must have surely known what would follow. Poor bastards.
It began with lots of anxious head-turning – the way it always does when people realize they’re on a plane with only one crapper located far behind them. People needing relief look worriedly toward the back of the plane to see if the restroom is occupied. Invariably, it is. So they stay seated, but they keep looking back every five seconds. The effect is interesting. As more heads turn, more people realize their own need is identical to the need of those around them – and getting worse. So a line forms in the aisle. Not good.
Soon, people realize the inevitable – we’re all going to need to urinate before landing – but not necessarily at the precise moment of our own choosing. Thus, the fundamental certainty upon which all continence depends is suddenly compromised, and a series of unusual but pressing questions begin to form in the mind every traveler.
When exactly, does one get up and join the line? Does one wait until one needs to go, or does one wait in a line of ever-changing length? What is the proper protocol? Are those seated closer to the restroom obligated to remain seated if they see someone getting up in front of them? Do women and children deserve some kind of deference? If so, how much?
These questions are important, because standing in line to pee on the CRJ700 is a journey in personal humiliation. The aisles are so narrow it’s impossible to remain upright without invading the personal space of those still seated. (If you zoom in to my seat-mate, now standing in the back, you’ll see that her ass now occupies the space reserved for the face of the man still in 17C. That guy, or whatever’s left of him, is now crammed into the lap of the stranger next to him, who is no doubt trying to jam himself through the window, happy to pay the ultimate price for a little fresh air.) Point is, waiting in line to pee on a CRJ700 is actually worse than pissing your pants, as evidenced by the peaceful countenance of the soggy kid, sleeping across the aisle.
Anyway, the situation really devolved an hour ago, when the line grew to fifteen people. Everyone who hadn’t yet peed was fumbling through a personal calculus involving time, space, bladder capacity, prior liquid intake, arrival time, and basic self-control. Those in line were the most desperate, and no doubt counting the minutes to relief. Alas, they forgot to factor in the big unknown – turbulence. As we flew through some very heavy chop, the Captain demanded everyone take their seats. Desperate people who had been waiting in line – some for a half hour – had no choice but to follow orders. Mutiny was out of the question, as the chop would have made hitting the toilet – even from a seated position – all but impossible.
The agony in the plane was palpable, and when the safety belt sign was finally turned off twenty minutes later, it was like a scene from Pamplona. The stampede toward the stern was immediate and chaotic. Good manners and decorum were forgotten, as once civilized people scratched and clawed their way over the young and helpless, fighting backwards for a few private moments in a defiled outhouse 37,000 feet in the sky.
I have pictures, but out of respect, I’m not going to show you. After yesterday’s post, I’m worried about sharing as much as I already have. I will however, show you the inside of the briefing card, which the flight attendant strongly advised we refer to during the mandatory safety briefing of the CRJ700. In it, you’ll see all sorts of helpful illustrations regarding what to do in the event of an emergency.
Alas – there are no helpful tips for how to politely pee all over yourself and your neighbor.
Funny how there are times that one can actually relate to a Facebook status update, as this was the case yesterday as I browsed my rather uneventful wall. I stumbled across yet another Mike Rowe status update that really hit home. Eventhough I don’t fly nowadays unless, well, I don’t fly but I drive, but back in my Air Force days this little story told here was true more often than not, especially on those long international flights we love to hate so much. The status update and the picture used above have been shared here without permission, I hope Mike Rowe doesn’t mind.
Posted From Scorpion Sting’s Motorola Droid Maxx!
I was barely sitting down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying “ Hi, how are you?”
I’m not the type to strike up conversation in the men’s restroom so I don’t know what got into me, so I answered, “Doin’ just fine.”
And the other guy says “So what are you up to?”
What kind of question is that? At this point I’m thinking this is very bizarre so I say “Uhhh, doing the same as you I would guess.”
At this point I’m just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question. “Can I come over?”
Okay, this question is just to weird for even me but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to remain polite and just end the conversation. I tell him “No………. I’m just a little busy right now.”
Then I hear this guy say, very nervously, ” Listen, I’ll have to call you back. There is an idiot in the next stall who keeps answering all my questions.”
Now before anyone jumps in and back out of my ass for posting this and offering questions let me first say that I know and understand that these pet relief areas have been created for the thousands of travelers who use service animals. I know this. I also know that in 2009 DOT (Department of Transportation) required that airlines and airports alike provide pet relief areas and the escorts to get to them. As a result, airports everywhere either expanded current facilities or created new areas, most of which are outside, with only a handful being inside. Now, I didn’t know anything about how or why these areas until just a few days ago when I had to do some research so I could stop scratching my head in disbelief. However, I’m still in a bit of disbelief that some airports have put full restrooms for service animals inside terminals. Maybe it is because I believe animals should be doing their business outdoors.
Not to take this totally off track here but aren’t there some other, better, improvements to be made to airports than to install animal restrooms? Yes, maybe you are right, if I needed to travel with my service animal I really could appreciate an animal restroom in the airport I was traveling in. But, on the flip side of all of this it isn’t the case. Not only do I not have a furry pet but I don’t want one either. I guess this makes me a little one sided in my thinking because I don’t see the point in any of it. But, then again, it shouldn’t really matter to me because I don’t fly, haven’t in 14 years. In the end it really doesn’t matter what I think anyway. I was just very surprised when I started reading all the information out there about pet relief areas at airports. My intent here was not to offend anyone with a service animal and also travels thru the airport system, I was merely trying to find out why it is absolutely so important to spend money on interior facilities for dogs at airports. I think I will just leave well enough alone.
Before all you haters start licking your chops at the ways you can e-mail me and jump my ass, just save it because I don’t want to hear it from you. Have your opinion but understand I have my own as well. If you think it is a great idea to have interior pet restrooms than I am extremely happy for you, if you don’t then I am extremely happy for you as well. This post was to describe my utter surprise about a topic I knew nothing about. Our world is full of strange and bizarre shit, in my opinion interior pet restrooms in our nation’s airports hits right there in my own personal top ten. If this is your first time ever hearing about airports providing these indoor facilities then welcome to my club. Want to learn more? Go get your ass on the internet and search for the information before this is all you are getting from me because I am done here.
As a reminder, the picture and the quoted text in italics was borrowed from The Huffington Post from an article they wrote on 17 June 2013 by writer Lisa Miller. I did not have permission to use the picture or the text just in case you were wondering.