Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hand Flapping in the Ladies Restroom

I recently attended a “Girls’ Night Out” event with a good friend. It was at a local movie theater where they had free appetizers, free drinks and featured a free movie, Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Sure, it was a flick I’ve seen before, but I knew I would enjoy watching it again. Plus…did I mention it was free?

The event was sponsored by a local  bank and, as mentioned, it was a “Girls’ Night Out” gathering, so, naturally, there were only women in attendance.  (All together now: “Du-uh!”)

You know what they say about groups of women – that we all go to the restroom together?  Yeah, well, I was grateful this did not occur because, believe me, it would’ve been utter chaos.

One of the dispensers ran out of paper towels, so hordes of women had to hold up our dripping hands as if we’d just scrubbed for surgery and cross the room to the second dispenser to find paper towels.  It was either that, or dry our hands on our clothes – and genteel ladies such as ourselves simply don’t do this. Very often, anyway.
By the second time I used the restroom, there were big puddles of water on the floor where hands had dripped whilst on the walk across the room to the second paper towel dispenser.  Thank goodness no one slipped.

In retrospect, it would’ve been a good idea if even one of us mentioned to movie theatre personnel the paper towel shortage situation. But evidently none of us did.  Perhaps our minds were on the free drinks. Or the free jalapeno poppers. 

But a rather curious phenomenon happened during my first potty break.  See, the toilets were of the automatic flushing variety, so I assumed everything else in the restroom was modernized. 

Not so much.

I walked to the sink and held my hand under the soap dispenser thinking it was automatic.  But then I pretty quickly noticed the button I needed to push to dispense the soap. Oops. I furtively looked around to see if anyone had noticed my gaffe and, when I saw the coast was clear, I quickly pushed the button and started lathering up.

But then, when I held my soapy hands under the faucet waiting for the water to automatically start flowing, nothing happened.

As we all have experienced from time to time, automatic sinks are sometimes uncooperative. You can flap your hands underneath them forever and they simply won’t work. So you move on to the next sink.  And – voila! – water flows over your hands that by now have dried soap sticking to them. But of course the water doesn’t run long enough to scrub the dried soap off your hands and you have to redo the flapping thing at least once more.

These sinks, however, were not of the automatic variety.  And there I was looking like a fool flapping my hands under not one, but two faucets.  Sheesh.

Fortunately, I still had the room to myself. So I didn’t appear foolish to anyone but myself. And, well…now, you.

At any rate, I finally decided that the only automated equipment in the restroom was the toilet. So I stepped over to the paper towel dispenser determined not to make the same mistake. So I searched for the handle, to no avail.  Ack!  Okay, so automatic toilets AND automatic paper towel dispensers. Got it. 

Yet, waving my hands in front of this one produced no paper towels since the thing was empty.  Heaving a huge sigh, I seriously considered wiping my hands on my slacks and getting the heck outta there.  But I didn’t.

Instead, with dripping hands I walked over to the dispenser across the room, flapped my hand in front of the box and, magically, a paper towel appeared.

Who knew the simple act of washing one’s hands required a degree in engineering?

As more women entered the restroom, they all duplicated my moves. We looked like a bunch of crazy people, flapping our hands under appliances trying to get them to work and, finally, manually turning on and off faucets and soap dispensers.

I tried being helpful by telling people that the first towel dispenser was empty, but did they believe me?  Nooo. They all had to prove to themselves that the dispenser was, indeed, empty.  And then they walked over to the full towel dispenser and searched for the handle. 

It was kind of comical.

But I’ve decided that there should be rules when restrooms are designed. If you’re going to have an automatic flushing toilet, then everything should be automatic. Or, if you’re going to have a manual soap dispenser and faucet, the paper towel dispenser should also be manual.

Modern life has its advantages. Like theoretically there would be fewer opportunities for germs to hop on and hitch a ride if we aren’t touching toilet handles and soap dispensers and water faucets and paper towel dispensers all the time.  But I sometimes long for the simpler life when I could walk into a bathroom and know exactly how everything operated.

No excessive hand flapping required.

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