Automatic Flush – The Death of Responsibility – Down the John

The evolution of the modern public restroom is causing me occasional confusion and frustration. Some public restrooms are completely automatic; toilet flushes, water turns on, and soap and paper towels dispense automatically. The totally carefree toilet experience. All you have to do is dangle the appropriate body part in the appropriate place, butt over toilet, hands under faucet, and remember to zip up when finished, the rest is handled. Or is it?

With the evolution of the totally automated public restroom has come our own regression. How many times have you walked into a public restroom stall with automatic flushing toilets to find someones duty unflushed? For me? Many, many times. Keep in mind, here, though, I travel a great deal of the time for work and pleasure. During the months of November and December this past year, I’m pretty sure I peed at O’Hare more than I did my own home. And many, many times, I found someone’s duty in the john when I opened the door to the stall, which, by the way, I find not only repulsive, but inexcusable.

Do we not look to make sure it went down before we zip up, unlatch and leave? I do. I would be mortified if someone saw me exit a stall, entered after me and saw my turd floating there! I stick around to see it go down, and if it doesn’t? Hello? There is ALWAYS a button you can push to trigger the desired flush action!

Does installing automatic flush toilets somehow negate our responsibility to see that it all disappears before we do? I think not. Has common courtesy go down the john? I think so! What, so if your turd doesn’t flush down automatically, as it should, do you just say to yourself “not my problem, flusher didn’t flush”? Our mothers always reminded us when we old enough to potty on on our ”now flush the toilet after your’e done.” That golden rule should apply regardless of the vintage of the toilet we’re dealing with! Be sure it all goes down! Just like Mom said!

With the advent of the automatically flushing toilet comes the death of responsibility in the public restroom? Shame on us. Our mothers would be disappointed. But then I picture, in my mind, how my own 89 year old mother might deal with a non-functioning automatic flush toilet. The chances of her finding the tiny flush button on her own are pretty remote. Bless her heart.

Now, I will admit, at times, facing a certain amount of confusion in these automated or partially automated bathrooms. In the end, no matter what kind of toilet I’m dealing with, I think I have always managed to leave the bathroom with the turd down, the zipper up, and my hands washed.

Some of the confusion I’ve encountered comes not from the totally automated public restroom experience, but the partially automated public bathroom experience. For example, the toilet flushes automatically, but the faucet doesn’t automatically turn on. You stand there waving your hands foolishly under the faucet, cursing, for a full five minutes, you even try the other faucets, then you spy the lever that manually turns the water on. You know, the lever just like your faucet at home that you can use without any trouble whatsoever. How about the faulty soap dispensers that shoot soap into your hand immediately after you rinsed the soap off your hands because you got a minuscule fraction of an inch too close to the sensor? I once encountered an automatic faucet with a faulty sensor. I eventually figured out, somehow, that if I swung my right leg back and forth vigorously, left to right, the water would turn on. So there I stood, swinging my right leg back and forth vigorously, left to right, while rinsing, soaping and rinsing again. Water everywhere.

Occasionally, I have troubles in old school, DIY bathrooms, especially after many trips through O’Hare, where they even have automatically self-replacing toilet seat covers!! If you’ve never seen a mechanized toilet seat cover replacer in action, you have not lived. I’ve stared at wonderment, pressing the button again and again … where does the old seat cover go? Where does the new seat cover come from? The unit seems so small to have both a supply and a waste receptacle. Are the old seat covers biodegradable? Because I just sent thirty unused ones off to the landfill. I worried for a bit, until I figured it all out, that perhaps the same seat cover was just cycling through. After such modern marvels, I have found myself in an old school, DIY type loo and I have done my number and waited for the automatic flush for a moment, then two and, bewildered, eventually realizing it was on old fashioned DIY model and I’d have to old school flush; lift foot, step on lever, turd be gone.

Are you a little scared of what spiffy, new public bathroom technology may be on the drawing board? We have automatically flushing toilets, self replacing toilet seat covers, automatic faucets, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers or motion activated forced air hand dryers. Really, aren’t you a little scared of what might be next? What is left? A tampon plucker?

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