Friday, January 26, 2018

What a Way to Go!

Thought for the day: According to research, an average of forty thousand Americans are injured by toilets each year.


Forty thousand??? Well, that stinks, doesn't it?

Supposedly, these injuries occur in a multitude of rather creative ways. Lots of little boys sustain a major owie if the lid unexpectedly slams down when they're learning to use the big boy toilet, and I bet a bunch of 'em revert to a the-hell-with-that diaper-only attitude afterwards. But there are also cases of adults (even sober ones!) literally falling from commodes, of others pinching their bottoms in broken seats, and even instances of bites unceremoniously delivered to their buttocks by lurking black widow spiders. Then there's the folks who sit on the pot for so long... reading a book, working a puzzle, whatever... that their legs fall asleep, and they fall flat on their faces when they try to stand. (Technically, I don't think those injuries should be blamed on the poor toilets, do you?) Oh, and before you folks in other countries start feeling too smug about American carelessness, rest assured, folks in your countries probably incur numerous injuries while going about their business, too. My guess is your sneaky loos are every bit as culpable as our perilous potties.

If you find a lizard sitting on a toilet, is he a commode-o dragon?

(ahem) Okay, let's get serious. Forget about those minor bathroom incidents. They're nothing! Just as President Roosevelt spoke of a date which will live in infamy, I'm gonna tell you about a toilet that truly went down in infamy...

[image courtesy of wikimedia]






The saying about loose lips sinking ships was prevalent in the military during WWII, but it wasn't loose lips that led to the demise of Germany's U-1206. Believe it or not, it was a toilet.













[image courtesy of Buchandivers.com]

The U-1206, a VIIC class submarine, wasn't huge. Just over twenty feet abeam and 221 feet long, it supported a very... close... crew of fifty. Pretty much packed in there like human sardines, those poor guys had no choice but to be a tightly-knit group, and to make matters worse, they were forced to share one stinking toilet. (Do you think new crew members received relief maps to help them find it...?) There were actually two heads on the sub, but the one located next to the galley was used to store food, so the crew was left with one.  Not the best circumstances, as you can imagine. Especially if they ate a lot of beans, sauerkraut and sausages. (The wurst!) Just think of it. All of those men jammed together in close quarters. Poor ventilation. Stuffy. Sweaty. BO out the wazoo. The pervasive scents of diesel fuel and grease... not to mention the lingering smell of that aforementioned kraut and wurst.

But, wait! There was often another... pervasive aroma.  U-boat toilets had no holding tanks. They flushed directly into the ocean, but because of water pressure, they could only flush when the sub was at or close to the surface.  Soooooo.... when the sub was down deep, the men had to store their stuff in buckets and cans until they resurfaced, adding yet another level of olfactory hell to the tight-quartered mix. (If they'd had a mascot, its name would've been Stinker Bell.) 

The solution? A new and improved high-pressure toilet that could flush at those deeper depths.

Problem was... those toilets were so difficult to operate, they came with complicated instruction  manuals, and a crew member actually had to be trained as a toilet-flushing specialist. I kid you not. (Think they called him Flush Gordon...?]

[image courtesy of wikimedia]
So anyhow, on April 14, 1945, the U-1206 was cruising off the shore of Scotland at a depth of approximately 200 feet when first-time sub commander Captain Schlitt had the urge to, um... use that new and improved toilet. While doing his duty, he read the manual, and afterwards, he tried to follow the complicated directions to flush.

Oopsie! Problem. Didn't work. Then when the toilet specialist came to assist, he made matters worse. Not realizing that Schlitt had already opened the inside valve, he opened the outside valve to the sea.

Oopsie! Bigger problem. Instead of what was in the toilet being flushed out of the sub, the ocean was now flooding into the toilet... and into the sub.

Flush Gordon managed to close the valve, but their problems weren't over. Now they were reeeeeeally up Schlitt Creek without a paddle. In a less-than-brilliant engineering decision, the sub's batteries were located directly below the toilet... and now they were being drenched with salt water. The result? Deadly chlorine gas, which was rapidly filling the U-boat.

If they were going to survive, they had no choice but to surface. Which they did, making themselves visible and vulnerable to attack. An allied plane promptly dropped a bomb, which caused enough damage to make re-submersion impossible, so Schlitt ordered the crew into lifeboats and scuttled the sub. One man died in the bombing attack, and three fell overboard and drowned. Thirty-six were rescued by small boats, and ten made it to shore in their lifeboats and were captured. Those 46 weren't POWs for long, because the war ended 24 days later.

However, their U-1206 became the one... and only... warship in history to be doomed by its own... Schlitter.


Maybe I should ask Smarticus to install something like this. You know, for our own safety...

                        Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.




64 comments:

  1. Well, with 200' of pressure it would have sprayed like a fire hose! They were lucky to survive!

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    1. For sure. It was kinda foolish to forego the holding tank.

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  2. Oh, what a story! Those poor people were really living in awful conditions. I will be extra careful using the loo from now on! Hugs, Valerie

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    1. You're right. The conditions on those U-boats, especially the small ones, was deplorable.

      HA! And you thought all you had to worry about was whether or not the loo was clean! :)

      Hugs back atcha.

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  3. Sunk by a flush! What a way to go.
    I've had the uncomfortable experience of flushing and watching the bowl fill with what should be going down, plus what was jammed in the pipes from other flats. Thankfully it didn't overflow and the plumber came swiftly, cleared everyone's pipes and let the new immigrants know what NOT to flush down the pipes.

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    1. I think most of us have experienced seeing that awful water creeping UPWARDS in the pot instead of going down like all good little potties should do. Not fun!

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  4. Greetings Susan. What a stink toilets can be! I enjoyed reading your humorous post. They certainly had it hard in those submarines! You expressed the conditions very well in a cramped sub with all of its restrictions. Blessings to you. Enjoy your day.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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    1. Greetings, Andrew! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, I think it would be tough living on any submarine after a while, but those smaller ones had to be the worst.

      Blessings back atcha.

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  5. Susan, it takes an enormous amount of talent to write an intriguing post about an odious subject. Between laughs, I found myself suddenly remembering long-forgotten toilet mishaps....like the time the toilet seat broke and I unceremoniously slid onto the floor.

    When you mentioned the black widow spider, I remembered a story my great aunt Mary told me (she was near 90 at the time). She lived on a ranch in New Mexico and they had an outhouse. She said that spiders lurked in the outhouse - and one of the ranch hands DID get bit on the ass by one!

    When I lived in Texas, I always had a fear that a snake would come up the drain while I was on the toilet (thank goodness it never happened).

    I suppose I missed my calling in life by not being a toilet-flushing specialist.

    By the way - you've provided new dimensions to the subject of submarines.

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    1. HA! Thanks, cowboy, but I don't know if it takes as much "talent" as it does "weirdness" to tell a story like this. :)

      Spiders in outhouses used to be very common. Not sure if they're in port-a-potties, too, but I don't ever want to find out first-hand.

      I've heard stories and seen pictures of snakes in toilets. YUK! Man, if THAT wouldn't cause a raging case of constipation! (Or diaper-wearing...)

      For a REALLY cool perspective on submarines, I highly recommend a book called "Blind Man's Bluff." It's about submarine espionage during the cold war. Fascinating stuff! (For someone weird like me, anyhow...)

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  6. Another reason never to go into a tin can to use the can. You get sunk before anything can go kerplunk lol thankfully I don't recall any mishaps with the loo. Getting bit on the butt by a spider would sure suck. Maybe they just didn't want to be crapped on? Was fed up with your crap? Thought you were SOL?

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    1. HA! For sure.

      Yeah... you can't blame the poor spider. I wouldn't want to be crapped on, either!

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  7. Ooo Emmm Geee, friend Susan ... Your post made my day already. Although the day has barely started, I know me will be smiling all day today ... Thank you, hmmm? ... Love, cat.

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  8. Funny story. One toilet for fifty men? Every man had less than thirty minutes a day in the bathroom, and that's just criminal.

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    1. Yeah, criminal. But they'd never find anyone to arrest... nothing to go on. :)

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  9. fun friday post. It's a "pisser". Grin!

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  10. Thanks for the laughs today. Hard to believe that is a true story ! But real life can present many of the best laughs. We just need to remember to laugh at them.

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    1. Like they say, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

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  11. Wow, so many interesting facts about toilets. Living on a sub back in the day must have been something. Tragic story about that U-1206.

    I always find it strange to think I have a box of pee and poo right near where I sleep on our boat.

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    1. HA! Probably some "interesting facts" you could've done without, eh? :)

      Better a closed box of pee and poo than open buckets and cans... especially in the heat of summer.

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  12. Great history lesson. I know on boats there used to be a valve that you flipped to pump water in and then flipped back to pump out. We were always warned to leave it in the out position.

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    1. I guess Captain Schlitt never got that memo.

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  13. Yikes! What a story! I wonder who first decided to research how many injuries were caused by toilets. I would guess there have been quite a few that were never reported. :)

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    1. I wondered that same thing when I started seeing the articles about toilet-caused accidents.

      Um, good point. If I hurt myself by falling off of a toilet, I don't think I'd report it...

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  14. Flushed out of hiding Wow, that is really an interesting history lesson and an embarrassing legacy for Captain Schlitt.

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    1. "Flushed out of hiding"... that's GOOD! :)

      Yeah, it's an embarrassing legacy, and it's kinda made even worse by virtue of his name.

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  15. I have often wondered (I have too much time on my hands), that if you are always around stink, do you just become accustomed to it and don’t notice it at all. How did people live before the ritual of daily bathing and deodorant, and, of course, Febreze.

    I have found that the men in my family have looked at the toilet as a challenge, especially after a few beers.

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    1. I think "stink" may be entirely in the nose of the beholder. People who smoke smelly cigars don't smell 'em. Some people with cats and overflowing litter boxes of filth don't smell it. (I think Febreze calls it "nose blindness" or something like that.

      I, on the other hand, am very sensitive to smells. Maybe because my natural surroundings don't ordinarily stink?

      HA! I've known quite a few men like that.

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  16. 'Hind'sight being what it is I'm sure all the new Uboats had improved the technology.

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  17. Loved this post, Susan. Very impressed with the closing photo of luxuriously upholstered toilet, but doubt I would use it --it seems to be smiling and that's just strange.

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    1. Thanks, dude. (Where ELSE would you learn such... "useful"... information? I'm SUCH a potty mouth!)

      Strange, I'll take a smile, wherever I can get one... :) (As long as the toilet doesn't point and laugh, I'm good.)

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  18. This is my kind of history - and, finally, a mode of transport that would have smelt worse than my car...
    I have a recycled toilet planter in my garden, very clean but I can't bring myself to grow edibles in it :-)

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    1. I love these odd little bits of history, too. The humanize it. Ah, yep, I think the smell of that sub would top anything we could come up with in our vehicles. :)

      HA! I know what you mean. It's just the thought...

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    2. By the way - reviews done! On Amazon, Goodreads and a blogpost, hope you like it :-)

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    3. Thank you, luv! Of course I like it! :)

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  19. Your always have the best stories !
    I have a new Japanese toilet with a German seat... so posh !
    hahahahahahahahahaha

    cheers, parsnip and mandibles

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    1. Thanks! Well, I don;t know if they're the "best," but they're usually different!

      Your posterior deserves posh, m'dear. :)

      Cheers back atcha!

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  20. THIS is hysterical, Susan! Imagine, me feeling so sorry for the Germans. History would've been so much more interesting, had glimpses of this sort been shared.

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the post. I love stories that give us a different slant on history and humanize the people who lived it.

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  21. How embarrassing! Captured because you couldn't flush the toilet properly. I'll bet that fresh air smelled pretty good though...

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    1. Oh yeah! I'm sure those guys were gulping fresh air like nobody's business. (heh heh)

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  22. Replies
    1. I'm glad the story tickled your funny bone, Keith. :)

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  23. Hi Susan - that's an amazing story ... and oh yes how funny - but why did it have to happen just off Great Britain - even if it was Scotland - ?! Now this is one great story line ... I'll remember this - but the 'pillow toilet' I rather like!! Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi-ya, Hilary! I'm glad you liked the story, and I kinda like that plush potty, too!

      Cheers!

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  24. Well!
    What a different post this was!

    I enjoyed it from start to finish!

    My good wishes for the coming new week ahead.

    All the best Jan

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    1. HA! Yeah, I reckon that's just about all you can count on when it comes to this blog... something "different." :) I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Good wishes right back atcha.

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  25. OMG, what a hilarious story! If they taught stuff like that in history class, kids would pay more attention (maybe).

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    1. I wish they would teach more stories like this in history class. Memorizing dates and data doesn't make history come alive nearly as well as learning personal stories of the people who lived it.

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  26. Wow, that leather throne is... something else. ;-P

    Years ago, a firefighter friend was telling the story of rescuing an elderly lady from the toilet after she'd sat there too long and her lower half had become numb. In a huge, and weird, coincidence the elderly woman happened to be the mother of one of my coworkers!

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    1. Yeah, that leather throne looks... comfortable?

      Oh dear. That poor old lady. Talk about a huge embarrassment for her. (And the firefighter!)

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  27. Oh dear, the stories of reversed flushing. I think everyone has one. Mine involves the clean up afterward. It was my mother's house and she'd been having all kinds of problems with the toilet not flushing properly, but she refused to call a plumber. Anyway, one day it overflowed and we all rushed to clean it up. She used her white bath towels. I was aghast when the clean up was done to find her white towels were still white! My mother had the cleanest house in the world!
    Poor sailors, having to work and live in such conditions but then again they were out there with the purpose to kill...

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    1. Yipes! I don't think my floors would pass the "still-white" towel test, even immediately after I scrub them!

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  28. Wow, what a great story. I knew that salt water and those old batteries were a dangerous combo...

    My toilet accident came from removing a toilet that cracked... who knew porcelain could be so sharp?

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the story. Yep, salt water did NOT mix well with those old batteries.

      Ouch! Unfortunately, I'm guessing YOU know how sharp porcelain can be.

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  29. 40,000 people get hurt using the toilet? Wow! That's a staggering number!

    I guess I had never really thought about the difficulties getting rid of human excrement on a submarine. Makes me glad I never had to experience it!

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    1. I know! Isn't that an amazing number??

      You and me both. Touring a submarine is one thing, but spending any amount of time on one... especially when it's submerged... is NOT on my bucket list.

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  30. A full house beats a flush every time in poker, but it's too bad the toilet engineer didn't know this. At least they didn't all die. Next time I use the toilet I'll have a little more awareness of how wrong things can go.

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    1. HA! Very clever. Maybe if it had been a simple "straight" flush instead of such a complicated one, the outcome would've been different.

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  31. Hmm - obviously, the cistern failed :-)

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