September 26, 2006

Lisa: potty mouth

I like to focus on the hard-hitting issues. You know, those relevant, timely matters that require extensive research. The subject I have chosen for today is automatic-flush toilets. I can only assume that the automatic flush feature was intended to create a more sterile public restroom environment. I'm sure the sequence of events is supposed to go something like this:

1. Enter bathroom stall, closing and locking the door behind you.
2. Lower trousers and sit down firmly on the toilet seat, to avoid the seat-splattering that inevitably comes with hovering. (YEAH, I SAID IT. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.)
3. Do your business.
4. Stand up and reposition clothing.
5. Exit stall without touching anything except the locking mechanism of the door, giving nary a thought to the unsightly contents of the toilet behind you, which will be effortlessly whisked away as you leave the bathroom stall.

Unfortunately, the sequence of events I have encountered in real life often goes more like this:

1. Enter bathroom stall, closing and locking the door behind you.
2. Lower trousers and begin to sit down, only to hear the toilet start flushing. Jump back up in an undignified fashion to avoid getting splashed. Wait with pants down for the flushing to be over so that you can sit down. Hopefully you didn't wait too long before you decided to go.
3. Do your business, accidentally moving slightly as you carry out normal bathroom functions, setting off the sensor that in turn activates the flush. Make a split-second decision whether to endure the possible splashing or to raise yourself off the toilet before your business is 100% complete. Repeat several times if the sensor is faulty, which it usually is.
4. Stand up and reposition clothing. Look down at the toilet, which has apparently used up its quota of flushes and is now resting in a dormant state, ready to display its contents to the next user. Wave hand in front of sensor, to no avail. Look desperately around the plumbing apparatus at the back of the toilet for a button or lever that will manually activate the flush. If you find one, press it gingerly and proceed to step 5. If not, lift the toilet seat a few times, hoping that will somehow set off the sensor. When it doesn't, do a little dance in front of the toilet (remember, no one can see you). When the toilet doesn't respond, mime sitting down and standing back up. Glare angrily at the toilet bowl for a few seconds, then shrug when it finally flushes with no apparent impetus.
5. Exit stall having touched not only the locking mechanism, but also the toilet seat and possibly a squishy plastic button that you know never gets cleaned.

Am I alone? Does everyone else love automatic-flush toilets? Because I am afraid this is an instance of embracing new technology just because it is new, not because it is better.

CNN, call me if you ever need programming ideas.

Posted by lisa at September 26, 2006 05:00 PM

You are not alone. I don't think I have ever gone to the extreme measures as in #4. My biggest frustration is that it NEVER flushes by itself. I always have to push the button. Luckily I've never had a problem finding the button. But really, it takes a minute for a toliet to flush so why should the flushing begin after the stall is opened? I hate that.

Posted by: Mindy on September 26, 2006 10:22 PM

There is a toilet at the library with no lever or button at all that I can find. So frustrating.

Posted by: lisa on September 26, 2006 11:03 PM

Ummm... Remember the insane-o toilets at Wal-Mart? hee hee hee.

Posted by: Mallory on September 27, 2006 12:03 AM

You forgot that when waiting for the sensor to realize you've left the toilet seat and commence flushing, you press your entire body flat against the stall door, hoping that the sensor will flush due to the lack-of-stall-occupant. So now you've touched the door also.

Oh, and I don't like self-flushing toilets because I feel like I'm being watched. By the man that lives inside that black box above the toilet seat. Creepy man.

Posted by: sarah on September 27, 2006 08:11 AM

My work has automatic flush toilets. I'm so accustomed to them I find myself walking away from unflushed toilets everywhere expecting them to flush themselves. Did you hear that, I now expect toilets to flush themselves. Oy.

Posted by: tracifree on September 27, 2006 08:40 AM

I'm with you! Except I can't leave either unless the toilet flushes - imagine opening that door with a yellow-and-brown swirl-filled bowl for your co-worker to see! Ew!

Posted by: Roonie on September 27, 2006 10:14 AM

most automatic tiolets i encounter are of the urinal variety
which nobody flushes anyway, so its good
also the splashage is less of a problem without the bowl
also at snow college there are these urinals that will flush if you walk by, so when you go back to the stalls, every toilet flushes in succesion. Rather amusing.

Posted by: Young Jeffrey on October 2, 2006 02:19 PM
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