The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes
In my day job, over the last several
years, they've replaced all the toilets as the bathrooms get remodeled.
This has been a good thing in some ways, but in other ways, it's
kind of screwed up.
I remember the first time I saw one
of these things, with the little infrared sensor on the wall. I was
insulted. "Jeez, they don't even trust us to flush the damn
toilet!" I said out loud to nobody. A few years before, it had
been those asinine toilet-seat liners, which seemingly have popped up everywhere
and anywhere, inviting people to make an even bigger mess when the things
don't automatically get pulled into the bowl. What's more, anyone
with a middle-school understanding of bacteriology knows that germs don't
survive long on a dry surface, and if that surface ain't dry, well... the
little tissue liner isn't gonna help.
But the automatic flush valves were
something else. And of course, they were coupled with these new "water-saving"
toilets that always seem to require three flushes to accomplish anything.
The sensors themselves are sort of wacky.
Since they go on changes in infrared reflection, they tend to way
over-flush. You open the stall door, they flush. You sit down,
they flush randomly. You lean forward, they flush again. You
get done and get up, they flush (as presumably intended). You pull
your pants up and buckle them, they flush again. Sometimes, they
flush for no damn reason, even if no one is in the stall.
At the other extreme, there's this one
urinal which seems to be a detector for zombies. I mean, someone
stands in front of it, it's supposed to detect them and then flush when
they step away, right? How come when I go in there, there always
seems to be one unflushed urinal. Doesn't matter which bathroom.
Since these things detect body heat, all I can conclude is that about
a third of my co-workers are in fact animatronic zombies.
At least, I thought that until I bought
The Gray Polo Shirt. If I wear that shirt, I, too, do not set off
the Magic Urinal. I've experimented with the thing, even to the point
of pulling my shirt up and displaying my bare belly to the sensor, thinking
it would validate my existence as a living human. It was not fooled.
It sees The Gray Polo Shirt, it won't flush. The urinals don't
even have that emergency-override button the stalls have (I've looked).
At home, I have two: one in the
basement (that used to be in the upstairs) that dates to the 1930s, and
one upstairs toilet that dates to 1949 (most home toilets, if you pick
up the cover on the tank, there's a date in there when the thing was cast
and fired). The upstairs one is starting to show some ominous crackling
in the glaze on the tank, to the point where I think it's liable to crack
apart and flood the place one day. However, when I go to replace
it, I'm not buying one of these new damn "water-saving" units,
I'm going to one of those stores that has antique fixtures and I'm buying
another one from 1949 if I can find it.
A good year for them, I think, back
in those days before your santitation device questioned your humanity.