This is one of those posts that Ma and Pa might not approve of.
I simply hate the toilets on airplanes. Usually I need to go just before the pilot needs to turn on the seat-belt sign. Generally I ignore the air-hostesses when they reprimand me (after all, I’m not going there on a sight seeing jaunt, I really have something that needs doing). But once I’m in, I know that there is probably a good chance that the pilot was not playing a practical joke on me and that there was a good reason to turn the sign on in the first place. Like my personal toilet nightmare, turbulence.
I am fairly tall, which means that using the toilet on any aircraft for a pee means cocking my head to the side, bracing my shoulders against the door, aiming carefully, peeing, and then spending 20 minutes cleaning up my misguided aim. I refuse to sit on the seat for masculine, and territory marking reasons. I realise I am not alone in this situation because the floor of the toilet is usually speckled with other people’s mis-aiming. I am sorry, but I hate to walk into a toilet with my dry flight socks on and leave with them wet, so I try to clean up after myself. My aiming is not from lack of practice, it is an error brought on by so called parallax, and clearly most of the male (hopefully not female) flying population suffers the same problem.
But peeing is only the beginning. No matter how desperate the situation, I do not use the bathroom to defecate (or shit, for the less refined reader). If I need the bathroom for that, even if it’s 15 minutes into a 16 hour flight, I know that there is 15 and 3/4′s hours of mental will-power ahead of me.
This is in part due to the fact that I have come to know that there are some really perverse little enzymes in my gut. A normal meal results in a normal smell for most people – processed in my gut it generates paint stripper. And paint-stripper that lasts for a long, long time. My children have consigned me to the outside bathroom for this very reason. The other part of the reason is that I am usually, first seat behind, nose-in-the-door close, to the bathroom – and I try to do unto others as I want done unto myself. (My seat allocation is a fact of life, like the fact of life that my bag is NEVER first off).
The result of this is that when I finally get to my hotel room after a flight, the first (desperate) order of business is the bathroom. I don’t know what they intentionally place in airline food, but the result, in my experience, is similar to an unhealthy dietary combination of beans and the hottest chili dish on the planet, all simultaneously trying to exit my body in one unearthly blast. It is quite unnerving, even to me.
As a consequence, I have become acutely aware of toilet design. I can, with a level of confidence derived from many desperate uses of these devices, compliment the US on the best toilet design in the world. No matter how desperate the situation, no matter how explosive the decompression, no matter how gut-crampingly bad the airline food, US hotel toilets flush it all away without the slightest sign of use.
So, to hotels the world over: stop putting those signs about using a face-towel instead of a body towel after a shower to conserve water – invest in US toilets and your staff won’t need to flush the toilet 20 times to get rid of traveler’s desperate relief (me included).