Is there anyone left who doesn't think the only thing better than traveling by air is having his or her wisdom teeth pulled? Do any of you suspect America is in fact a class based system and not an egalitarian one? If you have any doubts at all about such things United States patent 6329919 should put your doubts to rest once and for all.
The patent, developed by the good people at Big Blue, is for A System and Method for Providing Reservations for Restroom Use on airplanes. Granted, at first this may seem like a good idea. After all, as nasty, uncomfortable and unpleasant as those airplane johns are, the long queues of people waiting to use them only serves to add insult to injury.
Take a Number if You Want to Take a Leak
So why is this idea, which resembles the familiar "take a number" system incorporated by delis and bureaucratic offices alike, the focus of a blog about strange and unusual patents? Simply put, it's because IBM has found a way to both exploit our class system and make air travel even worse for those of us who, by misfortune or injustice, are doomed to fly coach.
I can almost hear the cries now: No way, short of the airplane falling out of the sky, could flying get any worse! To which I regretfully must respond: sure it can, when the toilet reservation numbers are assigned by a ranking system that gives priority to the type of ticket you're holding (class), how much you paid for your ticket (the more the better), and whether or not you are a member of the carrier's frequent flyer program. That's right folks; the joys of peeing and pooping when the urge strikes are now reserved for the more privileged among us.
However, it's not all doom and gloom. After all, the rest of us will no doubt serve an important function in this new aeronautic landscape. That is, as entertainment for the first-class and business class flyers whizzing (sorry, I couldn't resist) past the poor (and I mean that literally) slobs doing the pee-pee, hold-it-in dance in the aisles while they wait their turn. Then again, the attendants will probably insist we take our cheap seats and cross our legs lest we obstruct the more economically deserving passengers' access to the toilets.