How to Fix Everything Wrong with Our Public Restrooms

Automated technology has turned public bathrooms into logic puzzles.

Unisex public restroom sign

The day I knew I needed an intervention was the day I found myself waving my hand in front of a paper towel dispenser like it was going on a 10-year deep space mission to Mars and I may never see it again. I sat there waving my hands and nothing happened. I waited and then waved my hand again. Still nothing. A third time. Then finally I realized it was one of the old school pull dispenser types and I felt ashamed and angered all at once. Like when you get caught masturbating and don't even get to finish.

I blame technology. We've all gotten so used to the automated crap everywhere that when we do run into these prehistoric crank towel dispensers we go all Corky Thatcher. The fact that as a society we are too damn lazy to pull towels from a box on the wall makes me sad and angry.

With automated paper towel dispensers, your hands have about as much chance of getting dry as Ellen does at an Indigo Girls concert. Here's how we can make everyone's lives better and our bathroom experience more pleasant...

First, we all need to get on the same page. Forget gay marriage and the debt ceiling, Congress needs to be working on some unity in the public bathroom front. Can we finally come to a consensus as a society on these damn things? I walk into a bathroom and I don't know if I should pull, push, pump, squeeze, crank, press, lift, tap, turn, spin—it's a goddamn guessing game! How many options do they need and why is a company called Bradley fucking with us like this? All I'm trying to do is wash my hands, not be the next contestant on "Hand Sanitation Challenge."

It's a simple formula. You start with liquid soap that you pump out with your hands. (I'm about to wash my hands so I'm not concerned about the germs that may be on the dispenser pump.) And it must be a LIQUID soap—none of those little spritzes of cat turd douche soap bullshit. That's for the shit bag automatic ones where you stick your hand underneath, it makes a little robot noise, and a soapy blob comes out—like a miniature Transformer just dropped a deuce in your palm. Fuck that stuff. On top of that, the foam crap doesn't even lather well. It must be liquid and you must be able to pump it yourself! Unless you're in Oregon, of course. (Northwest people get that joke.)

Automated Paper Towel dispenser joke: Space Odyssey 2000

After the soap we turn to the automated sinks. This is the ONLY item in a bathroom that should have motion sensors. The problem is, the people who make this crap are smart enough to build faucets with motion technology but too fucking dumb to figure out proper placement of the sensor itself. They stick it on the far back of the sink where the base meets the countertop, which is no good at all; you have to shove your hands so deep into the sink that when you do finally trigger it, the water sprays above your wrists and not your hands. Then when you try to pull your hands back into the stream, the water shuts off since you're too far away from the sensor. So you find yourself doing that move where you're looping one arm back to hit the sensor and quickly splashing your other hand under the stream, rotating back and forth as the waters triggers on and off. It's fucking infuriating!

Listen up, janitorial engineers: place the sensor on the underside of the faucet, directly behind the spout, that way it's pointing down at your hands as they go under the spout. Holy shit, people, I can't be the only person to think of this, right? And I'm Mexican! You people have degrees and no felonies and fancy things like car insurance.

Manual paper towel dispenser
The bathroom gods smile upon the engineer.
Lastly, the towel dispenser, where this all started. The automated towel dispenser blows on so many levels and for so many reasons. It works as well as a Jamaican amputee to begin with, but when you finally get it to spit up some towel it gives you about a cubic inch. Then you must wait for it to reload and eventually give you another cubic inch. Your hands have about as much chance of getting dry as Ellen does at an Indigo Girls concert. Have mercy on the lowly people and just go to the "refill from the top, feed from the bottom, individual towel dispenser." As a society I feel we are mostly idiots, but responsible enough to dispense our own towels. The added benefit of this is that ideally you will never run out of towels, because individual towels can constantly be refilled before the dispenser is empty, whereas automated towel rolls must be completely depleted before you can replace them.

One last thing while we're on the subject: can we please make men's bathroom sinks not at cock level? How about torso area? There's nothing like washing your hands and having water ricochet onto your tan khakis, making it look like you pissed yourself. Bring the sink up just a notch and we'll all live less embarrassing lives.

Sloping sink in a public restroom
An near-perfect public restroom situation: pump soap, automated sink, manual paper towels, no standing water.

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