To boldly go where no man has gone before
Susan and I just held an important conference, and I think we’ve gotten to the bottom of one of the most pressing issues of our time: how, exactly, the crew of the starship Enterprise goes to the bathroom. Pay attention — there’s a movie coming out, and I don’t want you to be worrying about this distracting problem.
Much has been made of the fact that we never see Starfleet personnel going to the bathroom. Nor do we see any toilet facilities on camera. This isn’t worrisome in itself. We don’t usually get to see people going to the bathroom in most TV shows, and besides, I received a copy of the Enterprise’s blueprints during my Star Trek Christmas, and I seem to recall that they account for at least token facilities in the design.
No, more troubling, Susan pointed out, is that the crew all wear onesies that would seem to prevent quick and easy access. Counselor Troi’s scoop-necked outfits can be slipped down over the shoulders, but the rest of the crew is at a marked disadvantage. Do they wriggle out of their uniforms completely before going to the bathroom? Do they just go before getting dressed and after disrobing?
No. The ingenious solution that Susan came up with is that Starfleet uses transporter technology to simply beam bodily waste out of the bladder and bowels. If they can beam a fetus out of a uterus and into an incubator, as was done on Voyager, this procedure should be simple.
My policy on going to the bathroom is well-established. It’s work. It’s hard work. It’s grueling physical labour. That’s why the word “toil” is right there in the word “toilet”. (And it’s fitting that that word is of French derivation, considering how constipated they must be from all the cheese in their diet.) Because it’s work, that’s why I prefer to do it at work. Why should I do it on my free time? I deserve to be paid for my labour. I like to just sit there and work out how much I’m earning for my toil based on my hourly wage.
But in the time of Jean-Luc Picard, they are beyond this. They don’t have our distinction between work and play, and capitalism has been abolished. And they don’t have time to squander on doody while on duty. And they have all kinds of labour-saving devices. And they have those onesies. So it makes sense that they’d come up with a better solution. That said, the transporter theory does raise some other questions.
For instance, is it to the discretion of each crew member to simply discretely tap his or her communicator badge or push a button at his or her station to clear the bowels as needed? Or is bodily waste transported away en masse — does everyone simply feel a brief tingling at the beginning and ending of each duty shift?
And where does it go? Is it simply beamed somewhere off the starboard hull? Is it beamed to a central storage tank to be later beamed into a nearby sun or onto the deck of a Klingon cruiser? Does the waste matter simply get recycled into the food replicators?
And what is the result of this labour-saving convenience on the human anatomy? Does the underemployed lower digestive tract become more or less vestigial? Or does it become purely recreational? Does this reduce sexual hang-ups relating to the anus being an exit-only orifice? And what effect does this have on crew selection for away missions to locations lacking waste-transporter facilities? Do all Starfleet personnel have to maintain readiness by undergoing periodic toilet training?
Actually, this is starting to raise more troublesome questions than it answers. I’m sorry to ruin the movie for you.
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