The urologist who wasn’t allowed to pee

This story is a couple of months old, but I just came across it and can't help sympathizing with Dr. Madduri
Sivaprasad Madduri, the Missouri urologist who found himself on a plane with nowhere to go.

On June 26, 2008, I traveled from St Louis to Las Vegas to attend
AAPI annual convention by Southwest flight 1226. Two hours into the
flight, I tried to go to the bathroom ( I take a blood pressure
medicine with diuretic that makes one 'go' more often). As I was
sitting in row six, I walked to the front lavatory. The flight
attendant, named Lora Lee Minton, abruptly stopped me and essentially
shouted at me, "Go back! This bath room is occupied, and you cannot
stand here."

Shocked and dumbfounded at this unfriendly behavior, I went back and
sat in my seat. Two minutes later, I saw the lavatory door opening and
I got up and walked towards the bath room again. The same flight
attendant (Lora Lee Minton) screamed at me, "I told you not to go to
that bathroom," and started pushing me into my seat. I was totally
confused at this erratic behavior, and told her that I had been taking
medicine and I had to go to the toilet. I even tried to walk past
Ms.Minton as I was very uncomfortable.

"I told you not to go," she pushed me into my seat! I was lost. I
flew many times but had never experienced a rude and unfriendly
behavior like this. Confused and not knowing what to do, I went back
and sat in my seat. I saw the pilot came out of the lavatory, walked
into the cockpit and closed the door behind him. Later I could use the
bathroom. [Link]

Poor guy. He wanted to pee badly, but not only was the bathroom occupied, the flight attendant was just plain rude. The least she could have done was offer him a cup.

The sequence of events that followed were more frightening and beyond
the scope of any one's imagination. As the plane landed in Las Vegas ,
I was escorted by two police officers and was handed over to the FBI. [Link]

Wow, that really surprises me. I never realized FBI stands for Flight Bathroom Investigators.

The FBI interrogated me at length and for the first time, I was told
that the flight attendant, Ms.Lora Lee Minton, reported that I was
causing 'disturbance' during the flight. I was also told that when the
pilot is out of the cockpit, no one is supposed get up from their seat,
till the pilot goes back to his seat. This apparently is a federal law
being enforced since 9/11 and no one ever told me, nor was it announced
during the flight. [Link]

The least they could have done was make an announcement: "Your attention please. The pilot is taking a poop. Please remain in your seat until the 'Pilot taking poop' light goes off." 

That night I was taken through federal centers for further
investigation. I was hand-cuffed, finger printed and was 'processed' as
a common criminal. I was told repeatedly that my background was checked
and I had no criminal record. Even after checking my back ground and
even after confirming it by calling my family members (Our two children
that live in St Louis and Houston, Texas ) and my professional partner
(urologist from Poplar Bluff, Missouri ), I still had to go through the
harassment. I was dragged through Federal court buildings that night
with hand and ankle cuffs, left in cells for hours before I was
interrogated and was threatened repeatedly with abusive language: 'Shut
up,' 'I am going to kick your ass,' to name a few. Finally I was taken
to a federal detention center in Las Vegas and was ushered into a large
jail cell! I spent the night in jail with 43 prisoners – most of them
drug dealers and picked up at street fights! [Link]

Madduri: "What are you here for?"

Prisoner: "I was in a fight. I stabbed someone. What about you?"

Madduri: "I tried to use the bathroom on a plane. The flight attendant wouldn't let me."

Prisoner: "So did you stab her?"

Madduri: "No, I tried to use the bathroom again. And she stopped me again."

Prisoner: "So did you shoot her?"

Madduri: "No, I just waited until the bathroom was free."

Prisoner: "You waited? Stop lying, man. You must have done something wrong."

The next day I went through processing in a federal court building
and presented in front of a Federal Judge. The public defender told me
that my 'case' was decided and I would be released if I pleaded guilty
and paid a fine of $2,500. He also told me that I could refuse to plead
guilty, contest the judgment and even could win, but could be taking a
long time, cost more and might result in multiple trips to Las Vegas.

Exhausted, depressed and completely deflated, I agreed to what ever
the public defender suggested and got out after 24 hours of 'living
hell'.

I endured the most horrifying and traumatic 24-hours of my life for
a crime I sincerely believe I did not commit. A simple statement by the
flight attendant (Lora Lee Minton) in normal tone of voice that I was
not supposed to wait in front of the toilet when it was occupied by the
pilot, would have saved the ghastly ordeal. [Link]

What an ordeal. Really scary. I don't know about you, but the next time I need to travel somewhere, I'm taking Greyhound. It's a lot safer.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. For the first time, I did not laugh at your post. Is this the way People of Indian Origin, even if they are professionals, treated in the USofA?

  2. This is outrageous! It is one thing to have a funny take on racial profiling that is evidently an ongoing process in the US. But this incident reeks of harassment. The irony of the event somehow doesn’t bring out the smile.

  3. this is so depressing….

  4. I am not sure whether to believe this story – not only does it reek of racism, it also portrays how stupid the Americans are. For God’s sake, the man just wanted to use the loo and here he is… ended up with paying almost equivalent of many workers 6-month salary!

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