Sometimes cleanliness is next to impossible

Here’s a conundrum. We put automatic sinks in public restrooms because we can’t trust our fellow man to turn off the water properly. We put automatic flushers on the toilets because we can’t trust him to flush. (We can’t trust him to lift the lid, either, so I suppose it’s a matter of time before there’s an automatic lid lifter.) Or perhaps we do all this to make things more sanitary. No touching of dirty faucets, no fiddling with toilet handles.

But the point is, we go to all this trouble, and then we install those blow dryers, about which I’ve ranted in the past. It’s well established that we thereby save trees at the sacrifice of our time, which is hardly a good trade-off if you’re a productive human being. And as an addendum to that little piece of frustration, consider where that air blowing across your freshly scrubbed hands has been circulating.

I’ll pause to let you ponder that little nugget for a moment.

I know. Ick. But that’s not my point either. The point is, we go to all this trouble because we can’t trust our fellow man to have fundamental decorum in the bathroom, and because we want to reduce the spread of disease. Yet notice what we’re counting on, with those annoying hand dryers. That’s right — we’re trusting our fellow man to wash his hands before he opens the bathroom door. The same fellow man who can’t be troubled to avoid peeing all over the toilet seat. You see the problem, right? The fundamental breakdown in logic? I mean, how many of us have seen someone exit a stall and leave the bathroom without washing his hands? After spending some serious quality time in that stall, with all that implies?

They’re a fundamental threat to national health, these hand dryers. As are a wide swath of our fellow citizens who we can’t trust not to put their poopy hands all over door handles, elevator buttons, chair backs, stair rails, and any number of other public items. Think about that the next time you vote — both where the previous voter’s hands have been, and the insanity of trusting people who haven’t learned to scrub their paws with decisions about the direction of the nation’s future. Surely somewhere in those ponderous tomes tracing the downfall of civilizations there’s something about poopy hands.

So I think for everyone’s sake, or at least those of us who do practice good hygiene, we need to rip out those hand blowers. And yes, McDonald’s, I’m talking to you, with your puny little blowers and your bathroom doors that open inward. If someone were to start a list of the nation’s deadliest bathrooms, McDonald’s would have to be right near the top, perhaps eclipsed only by Waffle House, though anyone not terminally ill who goes into a Waffle House of his own volition is really just asking for it anyway.


  1. Marc V

    Ask and ye shall recieve – thanks for the link on the hand drier rant. For those who have not read it, click and enjoy. I know you and many others have railed against the inward opening doors of restrooms. I believe it has something to do with modesty, in that a door that opens out would be open for “peeks” in. A door that opens in has someone blocking the view better, particularly as they leave the sanitary facility.

    And, you know, people who operate public restrooms do what they can to minimize costs. Having to pay someone to tend to the chore of reloading the paper towels is much more expensive than having a blower circulate fetid air.

    Finally, speaking of “poopy hands”, we (wife and I) have a tough going with our 7 y.o. son. He gets to the point of washing his hands so much his hands get raw and chapped. His biggest fear is touching something that his younger sister, after picking her nose, may have touched. She of course knows this and terrorizes him occasionally.

  2. Betsy

    McDonalds is one of the more irritating ones out there with stalls so tiny you can’t avoid touching the walls and, as you said, itty bitty air dryers and doors that open inward.

    My solution is that basically I kill a tree (branch) every time I go in there because I arm myself with a handful of paper napkins. I refuse to use my shirt to grab the door handle because they won’t let me have a paper towel. The silly thing is that because the napkins tend to disintegrate more easily, I use more paper that way than if they just let me have a paper towel in the first place.

    Grrrr. Now you have me fuming anew. 🙂

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