I walk into a public restroom and hear an ear-splitting roar. The source is the hand dryer, a tiny thing, not much bigger than a wallet with a knob on it. No one is using it, I notice as a woman in white Capri pants brushes past me, shaking her dripping hands.
Some dryers holler, some hum, but none of them get your hands dry. You could stand there all day and still come out wiping your fingers on your pants.
These little noisy ones make your skin move around. You can watch it sliding across your veins and ligaments. I don’t know if it’s good for your skin, but it’s fun to watch. I want to call everyone over and say, “Hey, look at this,” but there’s an unwritten rule in public restrooms, at least ladies’ rooms: You can only talk to people you bring in with you. You must pretend the others are invisible.
With bathroom dryers these days, I never know whether to put my hands under it or in it, sock it, do tai chi in front of the motion detector . . . or press a button. Is a towel going to come down? If it does, they never give you enough. And sometimes you get to choose: auto dryer or paper towel? Choose the towel, then notice a little girl staring at you, horror in her big green-police eyes. “The dryer doesn’t work,” you lie.
And now the internet is full of posts about how electric hand dryers spread germs. Read this happy little ditty: “Here’s the Gross Truth About Bathroom Hand Dryers” by Carly Cassella.
Remember the cloth towels that used to come down in a circle and were never quite dry? Now that was sanitary! But then, how often do we wash our towels at home? Does each person use his/her own? Would you ever consider installing an air dryer?
At least when you’re waiting outside, the noisy dryer tells you your wait is almost over.
It’s not just the hand dryers that make going to a public restroom an adventure these days.
Toilets haven’t changed much. You still sit or squat over a horseshoe-shaped thing atop a porcelain bowl and do your business, but with automatic flushers, sometimes you get a booty bath when it decides to flush for no particular reason. Other times, you finish, stand up, stare at it, and nothing happens. Has anybody else ever done a little dance to try to make it flush? And it still doesn’t? So you push the button. Whoosh. Or you walk out, hoping nobody sees that you failed to flush. Just as you exit the stall, you hear: Whoosh!
I often wonder why there are 20 stalls and two sinks and there’s always some woman redoing her entire face when you just want to wave your hands under the water. And why, when the woman finally realizes someone’s waiting and moves half an inch to the left, is the soap everywhere but the dispenser? Why is the counter always wet so you have nowhere to put your purse?
Have you ever stood waiting for a sink to turn on, complaining that it’s not working, then realized it was not automatic?
With automatic toilets, sinks, soap dispensers and hand dryers, you still have to touch the door knob or handle to get out, so what’s the point?
Finally, why do folks spend a fortune installing automatic toilets but don’t fix the door locks? Between trying to hold the door closed with your foot, hanging above the toilet seat to avoid germs, and being subjected to dryers loud enough to liquefy your eardrums, I don’t see why anyone would call it a “rest room.” Would you?
I welcome your bathroom adventure stories in the comments.
More bathroom reading:
“For Drying Out Loud: Noisy Hand Dryers Cause Issues for Some,” Dallas News, Thor Christensen
“Hand Dryer Noise in Public Restrooms Exceeds 80 dBA at 10 Feet (3m)”
Did you know there’s a whole collection of restroom pictures on Pinterest? Crazy, but I know you want to look.
And for those of us who are tired of bathrooms with toilet paper on the floor and graffiti on the doors, here’s “Best Public Bathrooms; Where to Go When You’re on the Go”