“Electric Bathroom”

The other day I was at our local library and went to wash my hands in the restroom. No water came out of the faucet no matter how I tried to move my hands in front of what I thought was the sensor. (Even this ability was fairly new to me. My granddaughter has had to teach me how to make various fixtures in restrooms operate.) When I still failed to get any water I went to tell the librarian. She calmly replied, “Oh yes. It needs a new battery.”

I stopped to wonder what persuasive sales people had taken over the fairly standard fixtures in public restrooms. Clearly different pitches appealed to different buyers, so there is no standard. Some faucets go on as soon as something is set on the rim of the sink. I learned this when I rested my purse there! Others need one to wave one’s hands in some sort of pattern. When the water comes out, there is no way to change its temperature or the length of time it flows. Somewhere somebody has made those decisions for the fixture, ignoring the various demands of users.

The biggest con has been the substitution of high speed air machines for paper towels. Knowing that users don’t like them, there are frequently signs touting their “environmental advantages.” They leave off the fact that they distribute germs from the room onto your hands as they circulate the air. And they are useless for washing off a toddler’s face or dabbing a new stain on clothing.

What towel machines still exist seem to have fallen victim to the “automatic” versions. They each have an idiosyncratic way of operating from waving to holding to staring dumbfoundedly until a grandchild takes over. Fortunately they also sport signs saying “if no towel comes out, roll the gear on the side.” I guess even their inventors don’t trust the reliability of the technology.

I never thought I would wax nostalgic for the faucets and towel dispensers of my youth. But it appears that I am.

47 thoughts on ““Electric Bathroom”

  1. You aren’t alone [in waxing nostalgic….]! And your point about air dryers being useless after washing off the face of a toddler (or yourself!) or dabbing or diluting a fresh stain on clothing is too true. It makes me sigh.


  2. So funny and true. The latest is a sink with 3 fixtures, the left is soap, the middle is water and the right is a dryer. There have been so many newfangled ones that I stood in front of one recently for a while until I realized it was an old fashioned fixture. Just lift the handle. Duh!


  3. I’m glad that I’m not the only person who struggles to make the faucets and paper towel dispensers work. It’s nice to know that they use batteries. I now have an explanation (other than than I can’t figure out how to operate them) for when they don’t work.


  4. I gave up trying to work these things out when I still lived in London. In one restaurant, I complained about the confusing set up, and asked why they had changed from taps, soap dispensers, and paper towels. The owner said it was because ‘people left the taps running, and also threw paper towels down the toilet bowls, blocking them’. I could see his point.
    Maybe we brought this ‘innovation’ on ourselves, because of thoughtless users?
    Best wishes, Pete.


  5. You bring up some good points about hand dryers spreading germs and not being any use at all for dabbing at stains. I think we should start a petition to bring back the paper towels everywhere!


  6. I don’t know what to say… I work from home which is, thankfully, still old fashioned. But when, on occasions, I have to visit office, the faucets mystify me. I am not sure what hand gesture it needs to get it i take my own towel. The handdr


    1. I was just saying, not sure what hand gesture the faucet needs to get the water running. The hand dryer sometimes decides that i have to touch its ass to run, that i decline to do at any cost. Hence i take my own towel.


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