Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on July 28th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 16, Issue 21

Automation nation frustration


I swear on everything that I love and care about in the world that I am not a crazy person. I make this proclamation of sanity because sometimes, in certain situations, I appear completely crazy to the general population. But I assure you, I have all of my mental faculties, and I know the difference between both right and wrong and right and left. Unfortunately, there are times when people look at me, pull their children close, and assume I’m crazy. Even though I don’t think this is a fair assessment of me, I will admit that this normally occurs in public restrooms.

Why does this happen, you ask? Well, I blame the whole mess on society (like most crazy people do). But please give me the opportunity to explain. Yes, it is true I have been seen in public restrooms waving my hands around erratically, and I tend to yell at inanimate objects, like sinks. But that is no reason to call someone crazy. I’m just desperately trying to cleanse my hands using the stupid automated faucets. I’m not a psycho. I just want water to come out of the darn faucet so I can rinse the soap off my hands. And the past has shown that by waving my hands around like a lunatic and yelling a little bit at the faucet, it occasionally gets me what I want: a few precious ounces of water.

I think the automation systems placed in restrooms are a fantastic concept, especially if you are a mild germaphobe like myself. Personally, I don’t want to wash my hands and then touch the yucky, dirty faucet handle for half of a second to turn off the water, thus getting my clean hands dirty again (yes, this is what germaphobes obsess about—but remember, I’m not crazy). I applaud the person who imagined and invented the automated sink for its ingenuity and cleanliness. Now, I would just like to kick the person in the crotch who actually built the automated sink so that it would only work 30 percent of the time. If I walk into a public restroom and there are three automated sinks, chances are, after waving my hands sporadically in front of each of them, only one of them will allow water to fall. And if I already have soap on my hands, statistically that number quickly decreases to zero. How lucky for me.

And the amount of water that finally does fall from the faucet so I can wash my hands is totally different at every sink in every bathroom. Sometimes I get a fair amount of water and I’m mildly satisfied. But in most cases I only get about half an ounce of water to dribble out of the faucet, which isn’t even enough water to wash my middle finger—the same finger I will soon be waving at the sink trying to get more water to miraculously come out.

I have often wondered if there is some sort of evil miser who calibrates the sink automation system for the bathroom and gets a good laugh at only allowing a few spittles of water to come out and frustrate people with soapy hands. Without question, that same miser obviously programs the automated paper towel dispensers as well so we can each have a single square inch of paper towel to dry our hands. The irony is the automated soap dispenser always seems to kick out a gallon of industrial soap, and then I can’t seem to ever get enough water out of the sink to rinse the soap away. Obviously the calibration guy has a real twisted sense of humor, “Let them have lots of soap, hardly any water, and just a sliver of paper. That will show them to use a public bathroom!” Was this person bullied in high school? Did he have his head dunked in a toilet and was given a swirly? Why is he acting his revenge upon me? I never gave anyone a swirly. I’m just a guy who wants to use a restroom, wash his hands, and move on with his life, a life with clean, dry hands. Is that too much to ask for?

And the worst case scenario, which seems to always happen to me, is the soap dispenser works and then, NONE of the sinks work NOR do any of the paper towel dispensers, leaving me with a fist full of soap and no way to get rid of it. Other than to shake my hands up and down while cursing and running in place, which is why strangers grab their children and accuse me of being crazy. I’ve since learned to verify that at least one of the sinks works before I get soap on my hands; yes a little Life Hack tip from me to you. You’re welcome.

Unfortunately, the same joker who regulates the automated sinks also calibrates the self-flush toilets, so that if you’re sitting on the john and simply look down at your cellphone (don’t lie, you know you post on Facebook from the toilet), the self-flusher thinks you have stood up and then violently flushes, splashing your underside with disgusting public toilet water. Splash back is the worst. It makes me want to run home and take a three-hour steaming hot shower.

I don’t need an automated self-flushing toilet. As a germaphobe I learned to flush a public restroom toilet with my foot when I was 10 (which is why you shouldn’t touch the toilet handle either, it is very dirty. Hey, Life Hack No. 2 from me to you). If you want to automate something, automate the placement of the paper toilet seat cover (known more popularly as the “ass gasket”) because I’ve spent 10 minutes trying carefully to tear the center out of one of those just to have it completely fall inside the commode. This is very frustrating, especially after a Mexican food dinner from a questionable taco truck when time is of the essence. Whoever automates that little invention could earn the next Nobel Peace prize. The self-perforating ass gasket placement thing-a-ma-jiggy. It has a great name already. Please, someone build it.

In most cases, to avoid the whole hand waving “I’m a crazy person” affair, I just try to hold it until I can get home. Of course, at my house, my wife, whom I love, forgets to buy soap at the store or to put clean towels in the bathroom so … am I really better off?  

Rob thinks of this stuff while sitting on the can, which, appropriately, is where most people read his column. If you like Rob’s storytelling then check out his novel Cadet Blues available on amazon.com.

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