Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm Washing My Hands of Technology

We went out to dinner with our friends Kate and Will a while back as we often do. Having finished our meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Will and I went to the men’s room to wash up. After using the lav, Will was waving his hands back and forth in front of the paper towel dispenser; “I can’t get this thing to work”, he exclaimed in frustration! Finding humor in his dilemma, I reached in front of him and pushed the lever a couple of times, ejecting a couple of sheets of paper towel.

I must confess, though, I have had my own frustrating bouts with bathroom technology. One time having deplaned from a long flight, I needed to use the airport restroom badly. Upon completing my needed relief, I thrust my hands under the motion-detector faucet and… nothing, no water. However, the instant I removed my hands, the water flowed freely. So I quickly again tried plunging my hands under the stream of water to wash, only to have the flow immediately stop. Again I thrust my dry hands under the faucet waving back and forth to activate the flow – again, nothing, no water… until I again took my hands away wherein the water flowed tauntingly.

After several ties with the same result (the definition of insanity, by the way), I sidestepped to the next lav figuring the first one was defective. Nope, same thing; each time I put my hands under the faucet, nothing came out… each time I withdrew them the water freely flowed.

So now I am suspecting that I am the brunt of some elaborate practical joke. There must be a hidden camera somewhere in the bathroom – that mirror, it looks suspiciously like one-way glass? I press my face to the mirror and squint. Deciding to improvise, I exited, rinsing my hands in the drinking fountain outside the restroom in the airport concourse.

I guess the strategic idea behind motion-activated plumbing fixtures is that they aid sanitation in that one does not need to touch anything to activate them, thereby not passing on harmful pathogens. But it seems to me that the more technology involved in a system, the more likely it is to break down. I’ve had no problem all these years retrieving a paper towel by pushing the lever with my elbow – then turning off the lav faucet, paper towel in hand.

As far as motion-detector flush toilets; I won’t even get started on that issue.


23 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

LOL Absolutely priceless!!!!!!

DJan said...

That was just great! Good actresses, too, moving in tandem like that. Thanks for sharing this!!

Jeaux said...

A mirror that reflects only pretty women... there's a fable in there somewhere.

I have mixed feelings about touchless restroom automation... It's kinda cool and there may be a public health benefit in the short term, but I suspect that over-sanitization may be going a bit too far...

Antares Cryptos said...

I've suffered through those meaningless moments too and am quite familiar with the joy of elbows and paper towels.

The latter primarily because automated hand dryers are actually a breeding ground for bacteria.

Thanks for the video; existential vampirism? :)

BTW, left you a response to your comment, still trying to figure out an efficient way to do that.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

The woman who takes off her glasses is wonderful!
Hate the auto stuff. I think a lot of the reason is to prevent the build up of used towels-less cleaning for the staff. Someday there will be auto drying along with the auto flushing to avoid the toilet tissue plugging the toilets. Mark my word!

Robert the Skeptic said...

Kay Thanks. Stay dry.

DJan They did a convincing job, didn't they!

Jeaux You may notice this too but my unscientific observation is that half the guys that use the men's room walk out without washing.

Cryptos Really what the hell is wrong with a handle? Why the electronics?

There is some comment track-back widget, I think. Maybe on other blog setups. Donno.

BackRow Comedian Larry David asks if we need automatic flushers - are we all to lazy to flush our own toilets? Opps, I said I wasn't going to to there.

billy pilgrim said...

sounds like something allan funt from candid camera would come up with. i would have been using colorful language after a few tries.

Paul said...

Technology has made willing slaves of humanity. We bitch and moan about it yet continue to worship at it's shrine.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Billy That was my thought, am I being put on?? I really expected my plight to eventually show up on YouTube.

Paul How true that is - I read your comment this morning on my i-phone while I was sitting on my "throne".

KleinsteMotte said...

Funny. I've had that happen too. It's not just for hygiene. But there's also the concept of controlling the water temperature and amount of water dispensed. Conservation is part of this.

kara said...

technology's the worst. i think these things to myself every day after waking up to my alarm clock and taking a hot shower while listening to the radio and then while waiting for the hair dryer to dry my hair while the toaster toasts my toast and and then as i check my messages before getting on the scooter to go make money working with email marketing.

GutsyWriter said...

I've played the clapping game with faucets many times at the airport. What a great German video. I wonder how I'd react to that mirror.

Robert the Skeptic said...

KleinsteMotte Yes, it saves water, but does it save electricity?

Kara Yes, but do your alarm clock, shower, radio and hair dryier have "remotes"? No? My ceiling fan does.

Gusty See, I think it's just a trick and somewhere people are watching us in the bathrooms on security cameras and laughing their heads off.

Love that mirror stunt. Classic.

dbs said...

You can't see this comment. *winks*

TechnoBabe said...

Cute post, and a great picture to go with the story. My first reaction was that your friend Will did not go out to unknown places very much. Each restroom has a trick to the water and to retrieving a paper towel. Oh my gosh, thank you for not going into the horribleness of the motion detector toilet (non)flush.

Nance said...

No two toilet/faucet/dryer/soap dispenser configurations are the same. I demand government regulation!

Paul said...

Robert, there is a price you, and I, pay for technology everyday even when we are at leisure on the crapper. I remember our old out house on those cold winter mornings. Burrrr...

secret agent woman said...

I think all the no-touch gadgetry in bathrooms is there because we've become a nation of germophobic freaks.

I'm going to have to show that video to me kids.

Robert the Skeptic said...

dbs I can.

TechnoBabe Half the time the dispenser, whatever the deliver mechanism, is out of towels anyway. [sigh]

Nance Indeed, and a whole arm of government bureaucrats established to enforce paper towel dispenser safety and cleanliness.

Paul We have (rich) friends who do have a toilet seat heater. Mixing electricity and toilets is a scary endeavor.

SecretAgent Yes, though as I say, at least half the guys I seen in men's rooms walk right past the lav and out the door.

Marylinn Kelly said...

The different manifestations of technology...the, to me, pointlessness of automatic faucets - I wonder do they really conserve resources - and the apparent role that social networks and technology played in Egypt's revolution. I've still never owned an electric can opener, so you see where I stand. I don't envision faucets and can openers as catalysts for global change, but then...how can I be sure?

The Mother said...

I hate "courtesy flush"--mostly because it always decides I'm done when my tush is still on the damn thing.

Paul said...

I do confess that I do some of my best cogitation during defecation Robert. Thank you Thomas Crapper for your contribution to technology !

Jerry said...

I personally would prefer that the concept of 'automatic' be removed from anything associated with the bathroom.