Saturday, September 03, 2011

Odd Things That I Observe...

...while doing other things.

Dan has written before about situational awareness. That has been in my DNA since I began traveling to and from Chicago for art school and work since 1971. At that time walking anywhere west of north Michigan Ave was dicey. River North as it is now known was stew-bum heaven back then and the commuter train station was a magnet for seedy ner’do-well’s so I grew eyes in the back of my head.

At this point in my life I look at most of what I see and compare things to how it once was. Call it situational awareness run amok.

Take public restrooms for instance, or office building restrooms where everything is now automated. One reason could be sanitation. The other could be miserly.

The toilets no longer have manual flush valves, they have been replaced with motion detectors. Seems like a good idea.

Soap dispensers and wash basin faucets have also been fitted with motion sensors. I approve, I guess.

Paper towel dispensers also are motion activated.

For the past few weeks I have been working under a three-month contract at the headquarters of a large corporation in the western suburbs. That in itself is something I have never experienced. They have an internal creative department in order to keep from being fleeced by parasitic large marketing and ad agencies. That’s smart.

The HQ is a sprawling new five-story building with an atrium at the center. I have a pass that I must wear on a lanyard in order to activate the revolving entry doors. Security is very tight. One thing I notice is the wall-mounted, motion-activated Purell hand sanitizers placed anywhere there is a door or elevator. No problem with that, in fact I use them often being the germ killing freak that I have become.

The office space is one huge cube farm and very few high execs have small offices with doors.

Going to the restroom is one amazing experience. Next to the door is the hand sanitizer, of course. If they were serious about sanitation there would be a blind entry with no doors at all.

Each time I walk into the men’s room I pass two paper towel dispensers that activate just by walking by. I have seen four feet of paper towel reach the floor from both after a few users walk past in a row.

The urinals flush when I walk away. Fine. But the sit down crappers are a real trip. BTW, I always use the handicapped stall because it gives me ample arm room to read The Wall Street Journal which has yet to be published in a tabloid format.

As a sidebar I prefer using The New York Times to Charmin.

As is found in most respectable public restrooms these days are the ass-gasket dispensers. I always use an ass-gasket to sit where germy butt grease may have been left from the lazy non-ass gasket users. Here is where the fun begins and it could be similar to a Three Stooges bit.

I pull out one ass gasket. I carefully tear the center portion away, since if not done properly, the whole dam thing could rip in half making me toss it and start over. I carefully place the neatly torn ass gasket on the seat. When I turn around to drop trow the motion activator kicks in and sucks down my carefully crafted ass gasket into the pipe. The suction is almost as powerful as toilets found on airliners. So now I need to grab another ass gasket, carefully tear the center away, place it neatly on the seat and move very slowly in order to keep it from being sucked down again. Sometime my method works, sometime it doesn’t. I have had to carefully tear up to three ass gaskets before I can finally assume the position. But the experience is not over no.

After I drop the brown kids into the swimming pool I reach for the appropriate length of paper, lean to the left for a hasty removal of any Klingons and the damn toilet flushes each and every time. Since I am not Cheryl Crowe I need more than one sheet and it may take more than a few times to get the job done properly.

Simply standing up activates the motion flushing device and automatically sucks down the used ass gasket so the sanitary aspect of the experience succeeds.

Now it’s time to wash my hands. I like the automatic soap dispenser but the motion activated faucet stops surging water if my hands do not nearly touch the faucet tip. The water can get extremely hot so I must travel back and forth from sink to sink to rinse off all the soap. The motion activated towel dispensers have already sensed my presence and have dispensed more towel than I need.

I wipe my hands and use the used towel to grab the door handle. When I leave the room I also use the motion activated hand sanitizer as a final precaution.

Can’t I just relieve myself without all the unintended consequences of miserly sanitation? I recall the days of flush handles, faucet handles that allow the user to regulate the temperature and hand cranks for paper towel dispensers. Hand sanitizer was non-existent and if it was only pussies would have used it.

Just another case of my situational awareness run amok.


Terry from Crown Point said...

I'm not sure what the real solution is. Having worked for a few years in the dismal Sun Times building (now the trump tower), I used to witness so called honorable journalists drop and leave w/out even going near the sinks. Disgusting! I used to use a piece of towel just to grab the handle of the door so I could exit clean.

Chris from milwaukee said...

I enjoyed reading from my tablet, on my own uncovered toilet, in my non automated bathrooom, in private. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as a morning duece in your own home. Unfortunatley I feel your pain with the high tech office poo's.

Terry from Crown Point said...

BTW, the L.D. bit was GREAT!