Our toilets operate much like airplane toilets. Upon flushing, there is a loud suction sound, followed by the robotic murmur of a vacuum pump. In general, the flushing process (and related sounds) last no more than 10 seconds.
Sometimes, however, the vacuum pump keeps running and the toilet becomes locked in a permanent flush. To remedy this situation, you simply flush the toilet again--not a big deal. The other day, however, when I attempted to stop the running toilet, it wouldn't stop cycling. Per protocol, I attempted to reset the pump by flushing the toilet repeatedly, but my attempts were in vain. The toilet wouldn't stop running, so I left the bathroom and made my way to the salon to cut the power to our toilets. The second I stepped into the salon, I was enveloped by a distinct and rather pungent odor (specifically, it smelled like sewage). Something was very wrong.
Upon investigation (which I did not conduct), it was revealed that the contents of our holding tank had leaked through a vent into our main salon (hence the raw sewage smell). Did I mention we were on our way to a dinner party at the time of the incident?
How did this happen?
The instrument we have that indicates the fullness of our holding tank malfunctioned. Instead of warning us that the tank was dangerously full, it showed that the tank was empty. Essentially we had a poop bomb on our hands, and it detonated when I flushed.
Despite the mess, we had only one casualty--my favorite bag--which happened to be sitting on the floor in front of the leaky vent (it was promptly banished to the deck, as it was now a carrier of the smell). Thankfully, our new floor cushion was spared (by inches).
I am, of course, devastated that my bag was caught in the toilet/holding tank crossfire. I loved my bag. It was a mix of everything I like most: metallic colors, inappropriate amounts of snake print, too-long tassels, and bulky gold hardware (I like a good tacky bag). Eric offered to hose it down for me, but obviously I can never use this bag again. All the soap and hot water in the world couldn't wash away the memory I have of it covered in fecal matter. Besides, even if it could, people I work with read this blog and I fear they would judge me harshly if I showed up to work toting a biohazard.
Alas, it is goodbye bag...
Toilet 1. Krissy 0.