UHT
(prounounced "Oooh Tee")

My cousin John Haugh died of a heart attack England on April 1, 2002. The following is but one of many legendary stories with which his life was intertwined. In this case, he is also the story teller.
Recently back from an extended trip to Australia, I need to share a funny story with some friends and relatives. On a flight from Sydney to Cairns (Great Barrier Reef) which was about 1,500 miles (a huge country) I sat next to an unpleasant, ditzy, rather morbidly obese American lady who was a fanatic about "nature" and "wildlife". We were visiting about the strange animals in Australia.... koala bears (I saw several), platypus(es), kangaroos, etc. She ordered coffee, with cream. The steward presented her with coffee and a small container of cream, which said "UHT milk" on the cover.

I knew UHT to mean Ultraviolet Heat Treated. She did not. She inquired what it was. I explained, as seriously as possible that it was "UHT" (pronounced OOH-TEE) milk, and was fantastic. She used it and agreed it was the finest milk she had ever had. Then, curious, she asked where it came from. I explained it came from "UHTs". She asked what "UHTs" were.

Feigning surprise that an "expert" on unusual animals of Australia would not know, I carefully explained. The Steward, who heard me start, hung around pretending to be busy, but as one could see he was really enjoying the by-play (she had been most rude and impolite to him earlier).

I carefully observed that goats were four legged animals with two teats which produced milk, and cows were four legged animals with four teats which produced milk. An UHT, on the other hand, was a three-legged animal with three teats. Quite rare. And since Qantas had a basic monopoly on the best "UHT milk", she was most fortunate to be served some in economy. She agreed it was wondrous and asked to learn more about "UHTs".

I explained they were mostly wild, a few had been domesticated, they were a bit bigger than a large goat, and highly protected. The government of Australia, indeed, had a long-standing reward of $150,000 for the confirmed sighting of an albino UHT. She began a long discourse on having seen an albino Rhinoceros in Africa someplace, and what a wonderful experience that was. I explained the UHTs were generally seen around the edges of the rain forest (she was going on an eco tour to the best one), but that the guides would generally deny they existed. They wanted the reward if an albino one was found.

She allowed as a similar situation existed in Africa with regard to her albino rhinoceros sighting. Then, taking notes, she asked more specific questions about "UHTs". I extrapolated as we progressed. Quite copious, detailed information about UHTs (weight, breeding habits, eating habits, etc.) was conveyed. As we landed, she thanked me profusely for the "inside" information. I suspect she's still looking.

As I alighted from the plane, the pilot and chief steward called me into the cockpit. I was presented with a fine bottle of Cabernet from First Class ( they knew I had had one glass of that wine), a bottle of Champagne and two Qantas decks of cards. They explained it had been a most difficult flight (completely full, some real surly Americans and Germans aboard), and my "UHT" story had made their day. The pilot allowed his ribs hurt from laughing.

On my return flight to the States (Melbourne to LAX), the pilot came to my seat (different guy, different crew) to tell me how much he had enjoyed the story.... Qantas crewmembers have an on line newsletter with stories and their good and bad experiences. My "UHT" caper had been prominently printed, with my name, especially because the extremely rude American lady had gotten her comeuppance. He made sure I had First Class meals in Economy. Someone alerted him I was on his flight. The crew was most kind to me.


Norman Lubke writes: as i recall john's story......the uht had THREE legs and three teats...he convinced the lady the reality of such an animal!!! (we...barbara and myself...have been looking for some small toy animal ever since john's visit and story..that we could convert to a three-legged...three teated "uht"..but have never found one we could send to john!!!)...only visible in wee hours of the morning..like 2-4 am...at edge of rain forest when they sneak out a bit.....since she was on trip to see animals....john told her to ask rangers if they could arrange an uht sighting......he cautioned her that they might express no knowledge of such a beast....they knowing that uhts are a rare breed...but that she should stand her ground and ask to be taking to rain forest edge in the early am.....also he had told her that quantas.....their airline.....had a contract and exclusive rights to serve uht milk on board..... Norman Lubke

From the Editor: My apologies to those of you who read my copy of the story which had the UHT with four legs--I altered it thinking it made a better story. It wasn't my business to do that and I have corrected it to read as told by John Haugh on Quantas Airlines in its original version.....Alan Lubke
You can find this story again at my website, www.ojlubke.com. Click on the SUPER INDEX and arrow down to "Haugh, John."