I mentioned that I had recently assaulted a stewardess. I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression, however; I’m not some sort of degenerate, even though an airplane restroom was involved. (Casually revealing details without context is amusing to me, in case you were wondering.) You see, I didn’t assault a stewardess in the airplane restroom; I assaulted her with the airplane restroom. Also, the restroom assaulted me first.
I suppose I should explain.
The trouble started when we arrived at the airport late. We had barely reached the gate before our flight’s boarding announcements started. Since we travel with a small child, we board first. You can be jealous of us if you want, but it feels more like necessity than luxury to me. If you want to board with my toddler, I’m happy to watch you try.
Things my daughter did while boarding the plane:
She tried to pull off my pants.
She decided to sit in every single seat.
She cried because we wouldn’t let her sit in every single seat
She wanted to greet the airplane crew
She wanted to avoid the airplane crew
She wanted us to take her back to see the airplane crew
She tried to pull off the airplane crew’s pants.
She wanted to be carried.
She wanted to be put down.
She wanted to leave the airplane.
She wanted her juice.
She wanted a dog.
She wanted the airplane crew to say, “Woof, woof,” while finding a dog for her.
She cried because Elmo wasn’t a part of the airplane crew.
And all of that happen in the first couple of rows. We sat at the back of the airplane.
Either way, boarding early didn’t give us any time to accomplish the various housekeeping tasks we had reserved for our expected wait in the terminal. We needed to feed our daughter her lunch, fetch drinks and snacks from nearby vendors, and most critically–here I must be slightly more graphic than I usually prefer–I needed to adjourn to the restroom.
Here’s some free information about me: I’m painfully shy. Public restrooms don’t generally bother me because it’s easy to blend into a throng of people entering and exiting. Airplane restrooms are different because airplanes are cramped and linear. People go to the restroom one at a time and have to walk past everyone else to get there. People like me also typically bump into others during the trek, less like a bull in a china shop and more like a bulldozer tumbling down a steep hill lined with china shops. It’s enough to make me panic, and that’s just from the walk.
The restrooms themselves aren’t any better. They’re confusing and cramped, like vertical coffins with an attached toilet. They could only possibly make sense at a circus, where a group of clowns would all try to squeeze into one for the entertainment of the crowd while someone nearby juggled tubas on an elephant. Inside they’re complicated and apparently dangerous; every surface has elaborate instructions and urgent warnings about restroom safety.
It might not be as bad as it seems, but I’ll never know because the instructions and warnings are all communicated via vague drawings. I like to think that I know how to use a toilet and sink, but I swear that one of the drawings hinted that any mistake might turn my hands into a triceratops. Also, it wasn’t clear whether the hole under the towels was for garbage or whether it was an exhaust port to the plane’s main reactor, such that dropping garbage into it could accidentally produce fusion.
Nevertheless, the fancy bladder medicine commercials call it “urgency” for a reason. Since I didn’t get to use the restroom in the airport, I had to use the one on the plane.
I got up from my seat, slinked to the nearest restroom in a manner I hoped was subtle, and tried to duck inside. Unfortunately, one of the stewardesses was standing nearby, making an announcement over the plane’s address system. She watched me the entire way as though she knew I was planning on doing something embarrassing. This didn’t help my calm.
Thus I was probably clumsier afterward than I would have liked. I shutter to think what sorts of thuds and exclamations drifted through the thin walls to provide background noises during the stewardess’ safety information. (“This plane has…” Whack! “…six exits…” Thud! “…in the event of an emergency…” Smack! “…located at….” Whoosh! Muffled screaming follows.)
Halfway through the process, an angry flashing light and chime started reminding me that I needed to fasten my seatbelt. I assume that they meant the one in my seat, because I couldn’t find one in the coffin. I tried to hurry as a result. This didn’t help my calm either.
As a result of all of these things, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I tried to leave the restroom. I just wanted to get back to my seat where I understood what I was supposed to do and no one would see me do it. I bounced off of the walls a couple more times, checked to make sure that I hadn’t forgotten any crucial clothing, and swung open the restroom door.
I didn’t swing it gently, but I couldn’t swing it very far either. Instead it slammed into the stewardess who was standing on the other side of it. I think I hit her in the head. I apologized, but she might not have heard it as I ran away
When my story continues, we destroy a plane and probably a great deal of wildlife.