Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Airlines are in the toilet in more ways than one

Oh the indignity of it all.

We are now faced with wimpy water closets! Tim McGraw, Northwest's director of corporate environmental and safety programs says the airline is putting 25% less water for bathroom faucets and toilets on its international flights. Water weighs 8.3 pounds a gallon and a gallon of jet fuel weights 6.8 pounds. "Every 25 pounds we remove, we save $440,000 a year," Mr McGraw said according to an article by Micheline Maynard in today's New York Times.

Yes I know - the airlines have it bad and that's not good. They're shaking the trees looking for every possible way to save on fuel costs. Still . . . less hand washing and flushing power? What would our mothers say?

All this "toilet talk" has brought to mind other tales of the lavatory, some airborne, some not:

  • A 19-year-old Woodbury man has been charged with allegedly setting a fire in the restroom during a Compass Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Regina, Saskatchewan. According to a criminal complaint, Eder H. Rojas, a flight attendant upset at having to fly that route, started a fire in the bathroom of the May 7 flight. Flight 2040 made an emergency landing in Fargo. None of the 72 passengers or four crew members was injured. Star Tribune, May 16, 2008

  • In the 1954 film The High and the Mighty, starring John Wayne, Robert Stack, Claire Trevor and Jan Sterling, an airliner loses an engine en route from Hawaii to California. The first inkling of impending trouble takes place in the aircraft's lavatory when the stewardess is looking in the mirror repairing her makeup and notices that the mirror is vibrating. I can still call up that scene in my minds eye, probably because I was a stewardess when the movie came out. When the engine goes out there is much emphasis on the fact that the flight is past "the point of no return," where it takes equally as long to go back to where you started as to continue on to your destination. And in 1960, on my way to Hawaii on my honeymoon I looked for vibration in the mirror when I used the lavatory, and thought I saw some! Were we at the point of no return? Remember folks, we're pre-jetliner here, and it took those Pratt & Whitney propeller engines a long time to churn through the skies over the Pacific. Note to self: I must rent that movie soon.

  • Lastly, and taking place in my childhood home on terra firma, are a couple more: I remember the time I locked myself in the bathroom when it came time to take the cookies out of the oven. My sister was sick of having to take out the cookies when they were done and was "teaching me a lesson." I had a fear of touching hot things from my toddler days when I burned my hand on a kerosene lantern while being carried to a relative's barn to see the kitties. So I cowered in the bathroom while the cookies burned and my sister burned up. Later, when a teenager, my pack of cigarettes was confiscated by a furious mother. I was forced to tear the remainder of the cigarettes in two, 19 to be exact, and flush them down the toilet while my mother stood over me.

I promise, we'll can the toilet talk next post!


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