Did you ever have one of those days? Did you ever have one of those days when everyone in your household is sick, and all at the same time? The human immune system is a marvelous, mysterious thing. When your body comes under attack from a bug – it could be anything: a bacteria, a virus or, as old Ebenezer Scrooge might say: “a bad piece of fish”, your sometimes smarter-than-you body sets off an alarm to fight the infection and defensively reverses it’s general operations; purging your entire digestive tract. You get woozy, pale, first febrile then chilled, sweaty, clammy and weak; you get a knot in your gut and start to salivate and realize it’s time to head for the can, hoping you’ll make it. The cause of this reaction is not readily determined because the symptoms of the reaction are always generally the same: a messy mix of projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea. You lay helpless on the floor next to the toilet wondering if your going to die. I’m talking sick here.
Hollywood disaster movies are always based on a worst-case-scenario: it’s not just an ordinary volcano, but a mega-volcano, for example. An airplane just recently declared a medical emergency and made an unscheduled landing because several passengers on board had fallen ill. Several ambulances and even a Haz Mat Unit were dispatched. My mind simply took it to a worst-case-scenario and the idea for a fun made-for-television or B-movie was born.
Configured for it’s maximum passenger payload, the Airbus A380 is said to carry over eight hundred passengers. Looking it up, that works out to over 40 passengers per toilet. Image being on a non-stop flight from Hong Kong to New York high over the Pacific and hours from the nearest runway and everyone on board suddenly gets “the bug”. The first victims rush to the toilets, pass out, blocking the doors. The rest of the passengers form queues in the aisles, puking, helplessly shitting their pants and collapsing right were they stood.
In regard to airline accidents the question often arises: Which is the safest seat in the event of a crash? This scenario begs the question: in which seat are you most likely to get puked on? In some people, just the tart, sour, smell of vomit sets off sympathy vomiting. Neither the crew nor the pilots are immune.
The imagination soars. The captain lays helpless in the security doorway and a neurotic obsessive-compulsive hand-washer hysterically steps over his body in an attempt to escape (or save the ship) but sends it instead into a steep nosedive, a slurry of cess rushes down the aisles into the cockpit, covering the instrument panels and splashing the windows. Thank God for Auto-Pilot! A tense hour passes as the passengers and crew recoup themselves. A bumpy landing culminates with the venerable airship surrounded by firetrucks. When emergency personnel finally crack open a door, their shoes are awash in brown ooze and they’re nearly knocked over by a breath-taking stench. The Emergency Escape Chutes are deployed but quickly become far less inviting than a water slide at an amusement park.
The Director shouts: More pea soup! More chocolate! More oatmeal! More hyperbole!
So, the next time you board an airplane and you smell something vaguely akin to a badly neglected diaper pail, you can pretty well guess what happened.
The human immune system is indeed, a marvelous, mysterious thing; and, to a very limited extent, the old saying is true: “what ever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.