Life Flyover Country
posted by August 6 at 10:14 AMon
A couple of Thursdays ago I took the redeye from Seattle-to-Boston on Alaska Air. All three of us—my six foot tall boyfriend, my four-foot tall son, and six-foot-one me—were jammed into the very last row. Our seats didn’t recline but the seats in front of us sure did. Shortly after take-off we had three snoring passengers in our laps. After two sleepless hours in the middle-seat, I got up and went to the bathroom. When I got out my boyfriend and son had spread out—and both were fast asleep. DJ was laying across all three seats, his head in Terry’s lap. Terry’s legs were taking up all our floor space. I didn’t have the heart to wake them.
So I went back to the bathroom.
Everyone else on the flight appeared to be fast asleep and there were three toilets at the back of the plane. So I didn’t think anyone would mind or even notice if I… occupied one. For three hours.
I hate flying—hate, hate, hate—and airplane toilets are one the #2 reason. (#1? Airplane crashes.) You just know airplane toilets are beyond filthy. They don’t have time to clean ‘em, not with the way they rush people on and off airplanes. And most of the people that use ‘em can barely fit into them, let alone aim a stream of urine properly. And who can wash their hands in that tiny sink? And that bottle of soap sitting next to the sink always looks like the filthiest damn thing on the whole damn airplane anyway. So you know that a thick veneer of feces covers every surface—the hard, plastic edges around the tissue and towel dispensers, the door handle, the seat itself. Eesh.
And then there are those… chemicals. That blue stuff in the toilets? I don’t know what it is… but whatever it is… it’s so powerful that no matter what went down in that toilet before you got in there… all you can smell is the blue stuff. It certainly can’t be good for you to inhale all those fumes.
So airplane toilets give me ebola cooties and I try like hell to avoid spending any time in them. But my act of love and sacrifice required me to spend nearly three hours in one, staring at the inside of the door.
I don’t know how long I was sitting there, trying not to touch anything, staring at the inside of the door before I noticed the ashtray in the middle of it—conveniently located mid-door, so that you could sit and shit and piss and smoke…
How long has smoking been banned in airplane toilets? A decade or two now, right? So sitting there in the can, nearly delirious and high on the fumes, I started to panic. I mean, a plane had to be old—really, really old—to have fucking ashtrays in the fucking toilets, right? My sleeplessness, delirium, and the fumes, my fear of airplane toilets and fear of crashing made for a very, very long night in the can. When we finally landed in Boston I went straight to a bathroom—a relatively clean one—where I washed my hands, arms, and face, changed my clothes, and threw out the copy of the New Yorker I’d been reading in the airplane toilet.