Multilingual Business Communication

March 31, 2009

Can I please use a US toilet?

Filed under: Anja Peleman, business communication, crisis communication — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 8:17 pm

This is what Gennady Padalka, a Russian cosmonaut on the International Space Station (ISS) is asking, because he is no longer allowed to use a US toilet on the Station. Conversely, he is being asked to use only national toilets. This is not the first time something like this happens, Mr. Padalka is also no longer allowed to use a US exercise bike. Moreover, the US and Russian cosmonauts now have to eat their own rations. Honestly, I do have to say that all of this does sound a bit banal, but I can imagine this may create some unpleasant situations up there in space. That is also the reason why I am wondering: how can situations like this be created?

Mr. Padalka himself blames the upcoming commercial aspect of the space missions since 2003, where Moscow started billing Washington for sending its astronauts into space. Take for example the US billionaire Charles Simonyi, a software tycoon who paid $35m for a 13-day trip to the station. It are ‘trips’ like these that create a kind of hindrance for the astronauts living on the Station, for having less space then. Next to that, Mr. Padalka blames the politicians for situations like these: “Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide. It’s politicians and bureaucrats who can’t reach agreement, not us”.

Let us hope that his words can help to let the politicians realize that this Cold War-like stand-off must be solved very soon, so that Mr. Padalka can use the toilet he would like.

Anja Peleman

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