The modern public rest room mocks me. In the name of hygiene, it has gone "hands-off". The infrared sensors on all manner of devices protect people from ever having to touch a surface that someone else might have touched.
It does that for most people, that is, but not me. Apart from the ones on the toilets, which do seem to work well almost all the time, most of the sensors seem to be adjusted such that their threshold for dispensing is just above the heat gradient generated by my hands.
I wave my hands in vain, looking ever so foolish as I do. Nothing happens. I chant the magic incantations (e.g., "Turn on the #$@ing water, you infernal hunk of sensors, chips and controls!"), and sometimes they finally do give in, but before they do, they always mock me.
The faucet harrumphs like Sergeant Shultz. It says "I know nothing! I see nothing!", and the sink stays dry. It hopes I will go away, to the coffee room or somewhere else where there is a sink with a hands-on valve.
The paper towel dispenser laughs and says "The Power Of The Schwartz is no match for the dark side!". Like any experienced hitchhiker, I do know where my towel is -- and it is still inside the freaking machine!
Sometimes the sink refuses to let me wash, and I wave my hand at the paper towel dispenser in disgust, and of course then it dutifully gives me a towel, saying with a New York accent "I got your freakin' towel right here!" Of course it does this, because they do not mock me individually. They conspire.
And then there's the soap dispenser... the main subject of this post. It is reincarnated from Seinfeld's soup kitchen. "No soap for you", it snarls! And in the case of the soap dispensers pictured above, which are the model installed in my employer's rest rooms, that may actually be for the best.
You see, it's not the blatantly erratic behaviour of the sensors that don't work that I find disturbing. In the case of the soap dispenser, it's the erotic, not the erratic.
Pictured above is an AutoSoap device. Look at its shape. Look at it and consider what happens when you place a hand underneath. A hand that exceeds the required heat threshold causes that shiny, rigid pipe to emit a small stream of soap from an aperture at its tip. Do I need to explain further? When a hand is willing and able to stimulate it properly, that smooth tubular appendage ejects a small amount of pale, semi-clear, semi-gelatinous fluid.
Technically, AutoSoap isn't phallic in form since it curves downward rather than standing erect. It is limp and it isn't sculpted in any way to make it obvious, but the form is modern, more abstract than material. It's pretty doggone obvious, IMHO. Now that I've pointed it out, is it even possible for you to see it any other way?
Surely, I can't be the only one who finds it disturbing that perhaps hundreds of people a day walk up to any one of these devices, probably installed in many thousands of rest room sinks by now -- so it is likely hundreds of thousands of people a day -- cup a hand underneath this thing and it... well... you know what I mean. Or maybe I was the only one, actually, before now... Perhaps everyone else saw these things merely as soap dispensers, but I suspect that for at least some of you that won't be the case in the future.
1. Carl10/10/2006 12:17:27 AM
I also am invisible to these devices. Perhaps I am too skinny for them to sense me?
2. Chris Whisonant10/10/2006 08:16:58 AM
Perhaps you should try something like this first? (Don't worry, it's completely safe!)
3. Brian Benz10/10/2006 12:37:09 PM
Hehe. Me, I like them. Even if they spit out soap after I walk away or move to the next sink(my favorite)....Better than the old ones, where you find out there's no soap after you've already pushed the lever on the dispenser, which, considering the sequence of events, is probably the dirtiest place in the bathroom, and now you have nothing to wash whatever was on there....off.........:P
BTW, When I know I've been on the road too much: When I wave my hands under the tap at home.....:)
4. Duffbert10/11/2006 07:50:17 AM
You're just upset that the soap dispenser can "reload" faster that we can.
5. autosoapdispenser10/11/2006 09:03:24 AM
Soon our time will come Mr Schwartz, soon......
6. Esther Strom10/12/2006 03:39:23 PM
Wow. I'm never going to be able to use the restroom at work again... ever.
(FYI, an airport cleaning person told me, when I couldn't get the automatic faucet to turn on, that wearning dark colors can make one invisible to the sensors. Don't know why, but I've always worn light colors when flying since then, and have never had an airport autofaucet refuse to turn on.)
7. Catherine Helzerman10/18/2006 09:53:17 PM
You could always become one of those odd folk who carry around their own soap in little containers. Or, better yet, buy sented soap leaves.
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