Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from April 28, 2009

Motionly Disturbed

It's taking me longer to go to the bathroom nowadays, and I blame technology.

I'm not talking about going to the bathroom at home. That's always taken me a long time, mainly because I treat the rest room like a library. That is, if they ever allowed toilets on the floor of a library.

But that's a long time that I choose to take. It's a guy thing, but the bathroom is a safe haven, a reading room for men.

It's public restrooms that are starting to waste more and more of my time.

First, unlike the throne at home, which I'm in no hurry to leave, I can't wait to get my tush out of a public lav. The thought of what sort of scientific creepy-crawlies that are clinging to every wall and faucet and door handle in there doesn't lend itself to me wanting to spend anymore time there than is absolutely necessary.

But here's why it's taking so long nowadays: all the fancy-shmancy motion detectors.

Today's modern public restroom is discouraging you from touching anything inside it. Which on the surface sounds like a grand idea, but in disallowing human contact, it's relying on the motion detectors, which seem to be unable to do one key thing: detect motion properly.

It starts when you enter the stall, or (for the guys) approach the urinal. No handles to be found, which means the porcelain God must acknowledge your presence once you finish your business.

In the stall, you stand, and wait for the detector to detect that your rump is no longer pressing on the seat. For that's the only clue it uses to signal for a flushing.

So you stand. Nothing. Now, I suppose you could let your waste sit there for the next poor slob, but that's not very nice. So you sit, and try to re-create the whole "I'm done so I'm going to stand now" moment for the detector.

Rinse. Repeat.

Same thing at the stall. The detector is supposed to signal for the flusher after you've walked away. But ha! -- you walk away and nothing happens. This is a little trickier to replicate than the standing up thing.

Time to refresh the detector's memory.

"Remember? I came up to you and stood here, like this.....(physically re-creating the action)...then I peed, and I walked away, like THIS....(walking away). Remember?

"Now flush, damn you!"

Business-doing has now taken twice the amount of time than it should have, and now you're ready to wash your hands. Again, I suppose you could....

Don't you dare!

Wash your hands. Dammit.

But alas, no faucet handles. Just a faucet. The eunuch of all sink fixtures.

The fancy-shmancy detector is supposed to know when you've thrust your hands beneath the faucet, so that it will dispense water. How much water, and at what temperature, is anyone's guess. Sometimes it's a short blast, sometimes it's a gentle shower, sometimes it's...not at all.

That third option is what usually happens.

So again we're back to re-performing our physical actions for the very technologically advanced and very expensive motion detector, which is why the price of restaurant food has been going up, I'm sure.

Good for you if you're able to get your allotment of water on anything less than the third try. And even better if your allotment is enough to get both your hands entirely wet, so that you may wash them.

Which leads me to....

The soap.

Remember--no human contact allowed.

Several waves of your hand under the dispenser before you find the right speed, angle, and motion. But, just like the water, no telling how much soap you'll be rationed.

So now we have barely wet hands, traces of soap, and with that we're expected to wash our hands competently.

Which leads me to...

Drying your hands.


Look ma -- no handles!

More hand waving until the motion detector-equipped dryer kicks on. In fact, you might find that the hand waving dries your damp hands (remember, you weren't rationed all that much water and soap to begin with) faster than the damn dryer.

Note: Some less fancy-shmancy bathrooms may have paper towels instead of dryers. But these, too, are connected to motion detectors, which instruct the gizmo when to whirr and spit out a 4" x 5" piece of brown paper, which isn't enough to wipe your brow, much less dry your hands. Which means precious time spent coaxing four or five pieces of brown paper from it.

OK, so you've made it through Motion Detector Hell, and you're ready to leave. A three-minute trip to the bathroom is now on its tenth minute, most likely.

No human contact, to decrease the chances of germs spreading.

The only thing you need to touch is the door handle.

Which the person ahead of you has just touched--after being so disgusted with Motion Detector Hell that no hand-washing was done.



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