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September 20, 2009

A Somewhat Indelicate Blog

TLC welcomes our friend Robin, who last blogged about her passion (okay, obsession) for lemons.

A Somewhat Indelicate Blog

by Robin Starr


You know what’s really bugging me lately?  High-tech public rest rooms.  I refer to bathrooms with automatic sensors, developed to promote cleanliness and non-transference of germs.  Hogwash!  It all began with sinks.  Your mission: place your hand in front of the faucet’s sensor and produce a nice stream of water without touching a handle. Unfortunately, these darned things are so ornery that you need GPS to position your hand accurately. There I am waving my hands like the Queen of England in front of the faucet, and no moisture is forthcoming. Additionally, one has no way of regulating the water.  For instance, if you should burn yourself or get stung by a bee (two things I have managed to do within the last month) you can’t request cold water. Some little genie inside the faucet decides on water temperature. I wonder if the genies consult with the swine flu germs. 

Next up: the toilets. Here I have a major issue. Why, for heaven’s sake, do these things constantly flush before I am done—wiping? Maybe the sensor detects my rather fluffy butt at wide angle, but invariably before I even get near pulling up my pants my ass is halfway to China. I get a cold chill and misty rinse without the benefit of a bidet. Um….Mr. Eljer? Mr. Standard-American? You can’t figure this one out?Put a darned ten second delay on the sensor! All this usually occurs while I am perched precariously two inches over the seat attempting to avoid those nasty germs, causing Pisa-like listing to one side. An acrobatic act worthy of Barnum and Bailey, I tell you.  As occasional luck would have it, the over-seat crouch can be avoided by finding one of those lovely toilets which are covered with Saran Wrap; this plastic slides around and around until you get a clean seating area. This I like, rather than those horrible paper seat covers which never seem to stay on the seat and which fall in the bowl before I even manage to position said fluffy butt.

My husband Bruce told me, upon my inquiring, that urinals in the men’s room also have automatic sensors. I don’t even want to go into what might go wrong there. Frightening.

Eventually high-tech progressed to the paper towels. Wave your hand in front of the “no-touch” sensor and paper toweling is supposed to be produced. These things hate me. I think it’s a conspiracy by Scott or Proctor & Gamble to drive me insane. Either the paper doesn’t come out at all, or you have to touch the non-touch sensor to produce paper. In lieu of paper towels, new to the scene are those high-speed hand driers, which make the skin on your hands look akin to Jim Carrey’s face in “The Mask.” They do prove quite useful, however, when you spill barbeque sauce on your white capris while dining out and can use the rapid air stream to dry the spots on your newly rinsed-out pants.

Now the evil has progressed to the soap dispensers. Wave your now-wet hands (given that the water sensor has functioned) in front of the soap dispenser. Presto-- no soap for me. Gee, what a shocker. My internal GPS fails me yet again. I feel like Charlie Brown during football season. Run, kick and….thud. 

My final gripe? After all this suffering and germ-avoidance, you get to the door—and you have to touch the germy handle to get out, defeating the entire purpose. 95% of the time there is no receptacle for the paper toweling nearby, thusly you can’t use the paper towel to pull the handle and then toss it. Either I’m lobbing paper balls across the rest room in the general direction of the trash, or a week later I discover wads of paper toweling shoved in my pocketbook. Could they please make bathroom doors that swing open in either direction, allowing you to use your clothed elbow to push? Or even better, bathrooms with NO door—you just wind around a curved wall and enter the bathroom. Usually found in airports and malls, but no TGI Friday’s I know of would conceivably enlarge the rest room at the risk of losing space for one revenue-producing table.

You’ll be pleased to know, however, that as of this week, I found a new place to transfer my hatred. We have a new, fancy copier at work. Complete with bells, whistles and stapler. Also included in the deal were evil gremlins. Enough said.  


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You would love Casper, my haunted van. ;)

When I use the new-ish high velocity hand dryers, I always think of the scene from "Help." Always.

Great post and I've experienced those same situations.

I was just complaining about this yesterday! It's like doing some kind of interpretive hand dance to get water.

Amen, sister!
The water sensors work better if you are wearing dark clothing (I've been told) . . . I don't remember why. The paper seat covers . . . for those of us with sufficient padding, it is not necessary to tear out the middle part first, it will tear when sat upon and stay on the seat better beforehand . . .
I have no suggestions for that annoying premature flushing syndrome. At the Rep for a children's program, I heard a little boy refusing to use one because he was afraid of the flusher. Since some of the stalls still featured the original, manual ones, I was able to direct them to a "safer" one.

Yes! And about those flushers, they either go off to soon or, don't seem willing to flush at all. And I find myself standing there . . . waiting. I don't want to exit the stall without it having gone off, yet I apparently haven't moved enough to set off the sensor. And there's no way I can push the little button with my foot. So I have to touch it. And hope the sink features al work.

We were recently at an airport that had no sinks (Jacksonville, I think), just faucets (automatic, natch) over a slanted backwards "counter" with a gully behind it. Very strange.

I'm glad to see I am not the only one who does experience these issues. I ended up writing this one night after an "experience" in our newly built community library, and moaning about these darned sensors to Harley!

The older I get, the less concerned I am with auto vs. manual as opposed to just reaching the restroom in time. Age and gravity is hell. Thanks for reminding me Robin, and this is quite timely since I heard a great bathroom story this week.

My IO (insignificant other)is in law enforcement--quelle surprise!--and stopped at a restside area in uniform. He went inside the men's restroom and pushed open the only door in there. A woman screamed bloody murder and slammed the door shut. Fully alert now, he jerked his head and looked around as, for a second, he thought he might've walked into the ladies room. Then he backtracked, saw the men's sign, and figured out a woman had invaded man's turf.

First, you know how the accoustics are in those roadside stops. If you don't, then you're one of the lucky ones with a bladder the size of a propane tank. Second, if you're from Texas, you know about the woman who paved the way for unisex restrooms and got the law re-written...yes, you do, because she was the one who got arrested at a George Strait concert in Houston for skirting the long line in front of the women's restroom and walking straight into the men's.

Back to the story. I do realize for my IO, that walking in on this lady was probably like watching an alligator charge up out of the lagoon. But imagine her shock when she saw him in full uniform (uniforms are black and scary looking). She told him she thought he was coming in to arrest her. You know, after these two lives intersected, it's a wonder he still needed to go...just saying.

Laurie--pretty funny--probably his training as an law enforcement individual helped him out--I would have peed on the floor from the shock!

I hate those things! First time I was on an auto flush, good thing I was or I would've shit in my pants. Totally unexpected! My friend in the next stall said, "holy shit! if I want a bidet, I want it with CLEAN water!"
The sinks will give me soap but then it takes 10 minutes to get enough water to rinse it off. grrrr
Some kids found that unrolling enough paper into the toilet would trigger the flush. The flush eats the paper & unrolls more, till it eats the whole roll!

Robin, you're playing my song. I don't travel often, but had to do so twice in a couple of weeks. The struggles I had with airport restrooms! The flusher sensors are extra-sensitive, and the water, soap, and towel sensors obviously need a special incantation known only to a few. And then, trained as I am, imagine my embarrassment at waving my hands frustratedly in front of one towel dispenser, only to realize that it was the old-fashioned variety where you had to pump the handle.

Progress. Bleh.

Laura, I've done the same thing with the handle being "manual" and I'm waving my hands. Just another one of those frustrating parts to this whole thing!

Future Shock. In a public whizzicle.

That's what he meant about abstract theory visible in the mundane.

Soooo....how has no one but maybe Dave Barry come up with humor and an instruction manual in these public toilet situations?
I keep my handi wipes on me at all times in public toilets. And the ones on airplanes? Please my nerves! I usually have half of my clothes jetisonned over Omaha with the suction and the blue water!
No room for your carry on bag in the stall? No problem. You can use it to counter leaver your hover!
Just saying.

An airport bathroom I visited in midtour (don't ask me where. I was brain dead by then) had no sinks. That's right. Instead of basins, there was just a flat marble ledge. The water tap turned on over it and then flowed off. I don't want to think about people who brush their teeth in airport sinks.
Hilarious blogs, and this is my pet peeve. Or maybe that's pee.

This is such a funny topic. We've all been there, with the jazz hands waving, the impromptu butt wash, and the total stop at the door, a la Leo DiCaprio in that movie about Howard Hughes-terrified to use your newly clean hands to touch the door handle where the 40% who don't wash their hands have exited previously. Ugh.

But I have noticed that a lot of public restrooms have now positioned a trash receptacle next to the door. Which doesn't help at all if the hand dryer is the only method to dry one's hands.

My pet peeve is that the automatic restrooms don't ever go far enough. They never have all-auto features, for one thing. But the best auto-feature any restroom could have would be an automatic door opener. Why not?

Oh, and that ledge with the water spout over it? The first time I ever saw one was in Sydney, Australia, at a bar in The Rocks district. And the ledge was placed in such a way that if you happened to lose a ring or a contact it would never again see the light of day. Rather stupid engineering, I thought.

In Sacramento I went with two friends for dinner to a restaurant that had a really cool bar attached. Before our food arrived I went to "wash my hands", and while I was actually washing them, in front of a mirror, over a three-sided trough with spouting water, I see a man in the full-length mirror behind the sinks. Except when I turned around there was no man--he was on the other side of a full-length GLASS WINDOW between the mens' and ladies' rooms! Freaked the hell out of me. Fortunately, this lovely feature only extended to the handwashing portion of the restroom. But bizarre, yes?

Oh, and what about the restrooms that don't have written out "MEN" or "WOMEN" but have some little symbol? I was recently at a very nice resort and I went in from the pool to use the restroom, and, blinded, perhaps by the sun, I glanced at the symbol and strolled into the bathroom--I was startled to see a man coming out and was getting ready to give him a dirty look when he very nicely suggested I was in the wrong place. I was.

Fortunately, the restrooms had a nice long entryway so I didn't get near the urinals.

Just before getting on a plane to Hawaii, my 4-year old was so terrified by a toilet that flushed before she sat down on it that she refused to sit on it. I knew she wouldn't make it to Hawaii without a Major Accident, and so I let her pee in the LAX restroom sink.

She's 9 now and still frightened of self-flushing toilets.

HAH! See, I knew I wasn't the only one with issues...perhaps I SHOULD write that book of rules or go on the road with a comedy routine!

One cruise ship I have been on has a men's bathroom with the urinal under a window. My husband said it is very strange to be "letting loose" at the same time tons of water are whizzing by you. Very poetic, huh?

LOL, did you have to mention that, Robin?
I had a hysterectomy at 24 so at 58 gravity has made bladder control a challenge. (I don't go anywhere without my Poise pads!)
My neighbor put in a hot tub sized pond next to their back deck & a 400 gal cistern under the deck to pump & filter the water.
They just love the sound of the water. Needless to say, I can only sit there for one glass of wine!!!LOL

this is hysterical! You are right on everything. My favorite line is "holy shit! if I want a bidet, I want it with CLEAN water!" BRAWAHAHAHA

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