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]|
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.