Depending on your age, you'll remember things that you consider "roughing it". Today, getting stranded somewhere when your car breaks down, pulling out your cell phone and calling for a tow truck is "roughing it". 30 years ago, if your car broke down (we called it conking out), we had to walk to the nearest house and ask to use their phone, or walk to a phone booth, shove in a dime and call someone to help. If you didn't have a dime, there was no calling someone. The phone wouldn't work until it was paid for.
When I was a child, my grandparents had a cottage in a little place called Roscommon, Michigan. They had no running water, no bathroom. They had an outhouse. You had to walk outside, go to the outhouse and do your business. In the winter, that meant dressing up to go do your business. Being only 5 or 6 years old at the time, I had to use that outhouse in the middle of the night. As I remember it, there was one little light bulb that you had to pull the string on to get it to turn on. The outhouse was about 100 feet behind the house and nothing but woods behind it. At age 5, in the night, in the dark, with the woods behind it, you can imagine all of the monsters that were out there. But duty called and I had no choice. Unfortunately, the light was burnt out that night.
Now the seat wasn't really a seat. It was a hole cut in plywood with a piece of plywood covering the hole. Thinking that I had moved the plywood, I did my business, in the dark, and walked back to the house, stopping at the well pump to pump water on my hands. Again, "roughing it". There was no running water in the house. I got back in the house and crawled back into bed.
The next morning, I was awakened by the ruckus my grandfather was creating. He was only a little upset about the light bulb having burned out in the outhouse. He was more upset about the surprise he found when he got there...in the dark. "Roughing it".
Imagine further back. 100 years ago when they all had outhouses. Even in the cities. Or remember back to the time of our founding fathers. They had the privvy to use. Another way of saying "outhouse". Today, our kids would think of them as the blue or green porta-pots we see at playgrounds or fairs.
Last week, the Space Shuttle Endeavor took off for the space station. They joined the crew that was already there. There is now a total of 13 people on the space station. But there is only one bathroom on the space station. Unfortunately for them, the toilet quit working.
When the toilet backs up in our house, what do we do? We grab the plunger and get it unplugged so that the waste disappears into the sewer or the septic tank and fills up with clean city or well water. If it's a really serious clog we have to call a plumber.
If you'll remember about ten or fifteen years ago, it was mandated that we all have smaller more efficient toilets. Efficient in that it was supposed to save water. Unfortunately, you have to flush it three or four times when you use it just to keep it from being clogged at the smallest amount of tissue that is in there, let alone what's there from the purpose of your visit to the throne. I call these the Al Gore toilets as he was the big pusher (no pun intended) for these johns.
So it's only natural to think that 13 people using the same bathroom, with an Al Gore toilet, is a recipe for disaster. Forget putting the seat down for the women that follow. That's a minor problem. A backup is inevitable with that many people using one facility room. Do they have a plunger?
Apparently, the problem was a little larger than needing a plunger. The problem is so big they need a plumber. The men can't step outside and find a tree and the women certainly can't find a tree with leaves on it in outer space.
I am fascinated with the intricacies that go into every detail of the space program. They can monitor their health from earth everything from their heartbeats to their body temperature. Their ability to know every detail of what's happening in space on every moving part and computer chip in the ship and on the space station. But apparently, they didn't plan for the contingency of needing a second restroom, or even mens rooms and womens rooms. With this problem, the astronauts are truly looking for ways to go where no man has gone before.
I don't think there is a provision in the so-called stimulus package to send a plumber into space and if they did, imagine the cost of that house call. $5 billion dollars just for showing up, then $100 per hour plus the cost of replacement parts.
Just when you think you've heard it all in the news, now we're talking about the crapper in the space shuttle and thirteen people standing in line outside the restroom door, squeezing their legs together and prancing around because they just can't wait any longer. I never thought, when I first started making comments on a blog about politics and current events in the news, that I'd ever be talking about something we all go through. Backed up bathrooms.
All of a sudden, remembering having to use an outhouse at my grandparents cottage doesn't seem to be "roughing it" as much as those in space, the final frontier, not having even an outhouse to use. Just imagine the surprise that the dry cleaner is going to find when the astronauts return to earth. We could be headed towards the big news being, upon their return to earth next week, the astronauts not waiting for the shuttle to come to a complete stop before opening the door and making a mad dash for the restroom at the air base they land.
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