Different Worlds - Different Toilets


Planet Andor, in the corridors of the presidential palace.
Just after the welcoming banquet for the visiting ambassador Waldo.
"I shouldn't have had that second Andorian ale."
"Don't worry. You don't look drunk at all, Doc."
"That's not the problem. The ale is non-alcoholic, but it's... producing." He looked uncomfortably at Niko, who was walking back to their ship with him and Goose, and took smaller steps. "I don't think I can hold out till we're on board."
"There ought to be restrooms," Niko assured him.
"Sure. Since everything you put in has to come out somewhere," Goose grinned.
"You can laugh about it, Gooseman. You only had kafkanian juice!"
"I didn't like the smell of that ale." Goose looked ahead. "There's a servant. Let's ask her."
'I really couldn't ask a young woman like her how to use a toilet!' Doc thought to himself as he tried to decode the hieroglyphic signs on the inside of the lid. 'Hell! There are more keys and buttons and control panels than on Ranger-1!' And he didn't understand Andorian. The only sign in Standard entreated men to sit down. But technical logic was the same everywhere in the universe, so... He pulled out his CDU. "Pathfinder, Firefly -- are you there?"
Blinking spots of light rushed out and danced around him.
"Find out how this works."
The colored sparkles sprang into the gleaming white throne, causing the displays on the arm rests to flash wildly.
The green sparkle reappeared first: "You have to sit down, Doc. Otherwise this thing won't start."
He followed the order and noticed that the white glass plate which sealed the bowl below the seat vanished into the back wall.
"Activate the flush before--"
"I know what comes next!" He interrupted his program. With his trousers around his ankles he tried to find the controls for the flush. Finally, he noticed a toggle switch near the top of the right arm rest. It was marked with two Andorian symbols he knew; the Standard equivalents were " + " and " - ". 'Okay.' He touched the " + ". Nothing happened. He left his thumb pressed on it. 'Maybe these Andorians need as much time in the lavatory as they need in mathematical discussions!' A red sparkle danced around his head.
"Got it! Got it! Got it! Yes. Yes. Yes."
"What have you found out, Firefly?"
"How to start. See, first you--"
"Just do it!" He snapped, his temper frayed by his almost bursting bladder. Finally, he heard the rush of flooding water below him. "Pheww. That's better. --- Oww!!!" He jumped up, almost tripping over his trousers. The seat had grown suddenly hot. The bowl was filled with steam. For a moment he worried about burn blisters on the parts of his body that he least wanted wounded. He stared, annoyed and horrified, at the enemy and realized, startled, that it was still working. "Make it stop!" He commanded his programs.
"We can't do that." The green sparkle buzzed above the bowl. "We can't shut down in the middle of a cycle! It's unsanitary! And it's a bad idea to stand up while--"
"Forget it. I'm not gonna roast my backside!"
"But the bidet func--"
A tiny chrome swivel arm appeared in the bowl and started spraying warm water upwards. Doc got totally soaked as he fumbled with his trousers, trying to get out of there.
"Firefly! Stop it right now!"
"Okay, Doccie. It's your funeral. I'll switch out of this program. The new one should wait for a startup cue."
"Do it." He sighed, wiping water droplets out of his face.
"Uh oh. Sorry, Doc! The new program is trying to finish the job."
Doc looked up in alarm and was bathed in a big cloud of soft, blue-colored steam while a very polite, feminine voice said in formal Andorian that they were pleased she had used this modern facility of personal wellness.
He had no choice. He couldn't wait in the restroom until his hair and his clothes dried; that would take hours. He imagined Niko and Gooseman growing uneasy at his long silence, imagined Niko asking Gooseman to break down the door for fear something had happened to him -- and shuddered in horror at the next image his mind created. "Be cool. Don't let on you've made a fool out of yourself..." He stepped back into the corridor. "Let's go."
The two of them stared at him in fascination. He left them behind, leaving a track of water drops on the marmor plates. As they didn't follow: "I've just taken a shower."
"Doc, are you sure that ale was non-alcoholic?" Niko asked doubtfully.
Beside her, Goose sniffed audibly. "Do you use perfume?" he asked.
"No. Just some aftershave lotion this morning," Doc said in the most offended tone he could muster. He walked briskly, trying to escape the palace as quickly and discreetly as possible.
Niko chuckled faintly. "It smells like eau de toilette."
"You mean eau de toilet." Goose laughed.
Doc increased his speed and shouted, "Shut up! Both of you!"
The sniffing repeated. "Lavender?"
Doc started to run.
They watched him hurry around the next corner and out of sight.
"I think he'd prefer the toilets on Bisty-Fenokee, Goose." Niko said earnestly. "They're far easier to use."
"Yeah. You can't do much wrong with a hole in the ground."
"Except fall into it," she grinned.
"That wouldn't smell like lavender at all."

Technical note:
Andorian toilets are computerized. A sensor determines the sex of the person who enters the rest room and automatically loads the corresponding program (for men or women). The programs differ mainly in the scents used to eliminate any smells that remain in the clothes.
The toggle switch at the top of the right arm rest is the control for the flush water temperature. To avoid injuries caused by incorrectly regulated temperatures, the water temperature for the bidet function is limited to 40 degrees Celsius (104 F). This limitation does not apply to the flush water.