The modern restroom

I hate technology for technology’s sake. Yes, yes I know it is my profession and a part of my being as well. I do consider myself an enthusiast – but above all I am a pragmatist.

OK, so I’m on a downer at the moment with technology but let me explain why now even the modern restroom has gone completely mad.

Visiting the you-know-where

Using technology for every conceivable application you can think of, even those that are nonsensical, is simply exploitative and a waste of the planet’s resources.  That includes both the physical resources needed to make all these products in the first place, plus the brainpower that’s been focused on their development instead of onto more important things.

One of the best examples of this is the modern restroom.

Once upon a time this used to involve a lot of muscle power.  You had to open the door, pull down some toilet tissue, press a button or turn a handle to flush and then walk outside into the main area.

Once there, things got really tough.

Only the strongest people could manage to push another button to get some soap into your hand and turn the faucet on and off again when you were finished washing your hands.  Just think of all those germs you risked picking up when handling the faucet – shock horror!

What an entirely primitive and muscle-power intensive activity it was. Fortunately big corporations stepped in to rescue us from all this nonsense again and things are now much better and far more hygienic.

21st century modern restrooms

Today, the first thing you might notice when entering the restroom is that it’s in total darkness.

That’s because somebody thought it would make sense and save energy to install some sort of infrared detector that only switches the lights on when you go in.  We’ll leave to one side for a second, whether the energy consumed globally around the planet producing all the detectors is balanced by any energy saved through switching off low energy consumption lights in the first place.

Even if you agree with the principle, what you may have experienced in use is the deeply embarrassing and absurd process of staggering around in the dark, fumbling helplessly as the door closed behind you while the detector has mysteriously failed to work.

So, you stand there in the dark, frantically dancing and waving your hands and feet around trying to trigger the mysterious beam.

You invariably fail and grope your way back to the door. As you open it and light floods in from the outside, is usually the exact moment when the lights in the restroom finally come on.

The saga continues

Then you move to the WC itself.

Once a brilliant example of simple 19th century engineering, it has now being completely made over and it too has its vast array of technology installed.

The first thing you notice is that you can’t work out how to get toilet tissue out of the dispenser.  In fact, there is another sensor underneath it and if you wave your hands around a bit it might grudgingly dispense a single and totally inadequate sheet of paper.

This, apparently, is designed in order to save trees. Of course, quite often it won’t work properly and it will stubbornly refuse to dispense anything. You’ll need to resort to giving it sharp blows with your hand in a desperate attempt to get something out of it.

While you’re in the middle of that, the light in the room will switch itself off because it hasn’t sensed enough movement to recognize that somebody is still in the bathroom.  So while sitting in the blackness, you’ll frantically we start waving your hands around in the air again in order to get it to switch back on.

Eventually, following the combination of waving and kicks, the technology will start to work again and finally you’ll stand up.  That’s usually the point where you realize that there is no obvious way of flushing the WC.  You see, what happens in our modern enlightened technological world is that as weight is removed from the seat, a sensor detects that and automatically flushes.

Well, that’s what should happen.

Except it too was mass produced in a sweat shop somewhere overseas for a few cents and it’s highly unreliable in quality terms as a result.  So, nothing happens and you start waving your hands around yet again like a demented orchestra conductor.

Eventually, something happens somewhere and the WC obligingly self-flushes.

That’s the point when the light in the room will go out again.

Think hygiene

It eventually comes back on and you make your way wearily to the wash hand basins.

Needless to say, the faucets aren’t mechanical anymore and have sensors built in.

Yep, you guessed it, these sensors don’t work either and once again you have to start your well-practiced manic routine of waving your hands around.  Eventually, the water gushes on but you can’t take advantage of it because you are now doing your little dance yet again trying to persuade the soap dispenser’s sensor to give you a globule in your palm.

Just as it does so with a reluctant splat, the water shuts off automatically leaving you with no way of washing the soap off your hands.  So, you start frantically conducting again trying to get the faucet to cooperate with you and in recognition of your perseverance, the light in this modern restroom will switch itself off again plunging you into darkness.

Someone thought this was both hygienic and a water-saving measure and it might be but wouldn’t foot-pedals or elbow-levers have been simpler, cheaper and more reliable?

Of course, you’ll go through the entire same routine again when you come to try and use that high-tech hot air hand dryer.

When you finally return to your desk, your colleagues are puzzled as to why it is taken you so long and also why you look hot, flushed and exhausted.

A serious point

OK, so maybe I have overstated some of the above problems a little for effect but I’d be willing to bet a buck or two that you have experienced some of the above lunacy and wondered what on earth is going on in the world.

This sort of thing is complete and utter nonsense and should have no place in our modern society.  Let’s get the guys that are working to invent and produce this sort of trivia, working on something that’s important for the society we live in and not things designed to drive us all insane.

The modern restroom