Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dumb Shit Restrooms

Please,come in and touch everything...

Judging from the majority of public restrooms I visit, I often wonder if they even knew that germs existed in the fifties. I only say that because each time nature forces me to visit one, it feels to me like I’ve just taken a step into the past. Some restrooms are honestly just a room and a door with the bare-essentials thoughtlessly thrown in, which would be all fine if it were the fifties, but not now. I consider myself to be a vigorous pusher of technology and, I guess to some degree, an aspiring innovator, and from the majority of what I have seen, there is minimal innovation and a lacklustre amount of the available inexpensive technologies when it comes to our public restrooms. My general rule for judging the best is one with the least amount of post-soap hand-contact as possible, but because of a borderline-retarded design, it seems that people are trying to maximise that number. So, since I sometimes like to chest-thump with little resolve, this time I’m going to give some realistic, inexpensive answers that can basically make any hand to germ contact a thing you’ll need to tell your grandchildren about as they gaze at you, astonished.

Firstly, do something about that damn door! I have a saying, and it is “dumber than doorhandles in a restroom”. It is seriously the restroom-realm’s ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. Door-handles are just such an old-fashioned idea. The thing that makes the door so bad is that it cancels out every effort you have made in the tedious pursuit of hygiene; even those trying to be hygienic can’t be when there’s a doorhandle in the equation. Think about it: when you’re in there, you touch the cubicle-lock, you touch the seat, you touch your bits, the flush, then the cubicle-lock again, the tap and the soap dispenser – majority of which you and everybody else before you have touched. So then you wash all of that off and your hands are immaculate, only to have to touch a tap and a fucking doorhandle, both of which are teaming with either your fresh-germs or every douchebag-Neanderthal’s germs who didn’t bother cleaning the shit (yes, I said ‘shit’!) off of their hands before you; nonsense! And I didn’t even mention the fact that even things that never get touched by our hands are still disease-ridden due to airborne faecal and urine particles. Basically, by building doors for our amenities by a design that is only viable in a home of two, they are sending out the message that they want you to have e.coli.

My answer? What the new shopping centres are beginning to do, which is evidence of a scintilla of forethought, is replacing the door with an open-alcove. The way it goes is that the bathrooms are tucked away down a small corridor, obscuring there doorways from plain-sight so that nobody can see your penis, but still eliminating the need for doors or the petri-dish doorhandles that accompany them.

However, there are a number of factors that could be the stopping-force behind the use of such an alcove - off the top of my head: lack of space, building codes that require restrooms to have an air-lock or just the fact that nobody wants to eat at a restaurant where there’s no nothing between the toilet and their dish. To that I suggest automatic-doors. Bear with me here, because I know this is some craaaazy, Star Trek shit I’m trying to suggest here! I mean, it’s not like they’ve been around since the nineties or anything, and it’s not like every commercial building and disabled toilet have them either. Oh wait! They do. It’s not a new idea at all, hardly a technologically-challenging concept and they’re fucking everywhere I look! The double-however here is that most small businesses may not be able to afford this unfortunately, and to them I give the Schwarzenegger of all bathroom door-handle excuses anybody can throw at me: foot-handles. We have these two perfectly good extremities which are being completely ignored in this department, so why not use them? It’s genius, not that it’s my idea. It’s called the Toepener, it was created as the first and only product by a little start-up by the name of ‘Forge’. If you read their brief company story and consider the ingenuity behind a product like the ‘Toepener’, these guys know what I’m talking about here. It’s just a piece of metal placed at the bottom corner of the door, designed to be pulled by your foot. Considering that some have leg problems, this doesn’t necessarily need to replace handles altogether, it can just be an option for the majority. At this point, I could see price being a bit of an issue, but with wider adoption, it will only get cheaper, so it is seriously my excuse-seeking missile in any argument regarding the design of restroom egress.

So, in review:
- Alcoves instead of doors so that I no longer have to stretch out my shirts or jar my pinkies trying to open them.
- Automatic doors where alcoves aren’t an option.
- And, the best of all, foot-handles for those seeking simplicity.

My second biggest gripe with most bathrooms is the fact that they automate the dryers, but automate nothing else. What retarded birth of thought thinks that this solves any problems at all? Really? I mean, when it comes to a bathroom, you can’t have your e. coli and eat it too. It’s either fully automated or it’s not at all. How the fuck does being able to avoid touching the dryer somehow change the fact that you still need to touch taps, locks, soap dispensers and, most importantly, the inevitable door-handle. So, why is automating one thing in the mix at all practical? Was touching the dryer button such a big problem in history that all of them had to be automated? Can someone please help me out here? It just screams squandered-cash to me.

The resolution: Once again, I return back to my praise of feet. Within the last decade, some places have resorted to the aforementioned door-less restrooms and then others have, on top of that, Tony Stark-ed the shit out of them with automated taps, dryers and soap-dispensers, but These buttons could last through a shit-stormlike I said, automation is costly and when you’re on the cheap, the flimsy sensors that you’re provided probably won’t be the easiest things to use, so why not foot-buttons? A button below every sink, every cubicle door, every toilet, so on and so forth. If not feet, they can be operated by your elbow even. It’s not that buttons are very expensive, in fact, we already have them in our bathrooms now, they’re just in the wrong places, that’s all. You see, it all just requires a little bit of extra wiring...and a brain. At the first restaurant I worked, one of their hand-washing stations was operated with your knee, and that wasn’t even an electrical function, just some simple mechanism, akin to the same mechanism in any conventional tap you could find in your own home. In the words of Forge: “Use your head, use your foot.”

'Airblade' DemoAnd while I’m on dryers, just as a quick side-note: I admire Dyson for being innovative and trying to save energy, I really do, but their new automatic Airblade dryers are just ridiculous. I get it, they dry fast, but unless you were born with a surgeon’s hands, what’s the draw? Whenever I use them, I feel like I’m playing Operation!, except instead of getting a buzzing sound and a red nose when I hit the sides, I get gastro from the germs of whatever dickhead didn’t use soap before me. Seriously, I’d much rather spend the extra thirty seconds a day the Airblade saves me by using a conventional dryer than feeling like I have to wash my hands again. They’re a joke, and at sixteen hundred dollars each, an expensive one too. So, my question is why not spend the money on something else, like, I don’t know, designing your bathroom properly! When you’re saving over a grand on each dryer, conventional elbow-operated hand-dryers will do just fine, seriously. Frankly, I’d be happy with paper-towels, they cost virtually nothing and, funnily enough, they don’t use any in-house energy.

Let’s just face it, in the olden times, they thought differently to the way we think now design-wise, what’s worse is that some fuck heads are evidently still studying their design-notes. They were basically toddlers with building blocks, just stacking things on top of each other or throwing them wherever they fit, treating every item as if they have to be mutually-exclusive. Really, the market just lacked innovators, much like the ones that have made places like IKEA so successful. Some may argue that it just depends on how many dollars are in the bank or where the technology and the style are at the time, but I think that those things are irrelevant here. At its core, it’s simply a matter of utilising any given space by being clever, getting it right and then others will follow. Take the kitchen in my mid-fifties built home for instance – it is shit. No, seriously, whenever I look at it, I feel like somebody took a good hard look at a turd and that was there inspiration behind where everything should go. “Just throw the oven anywhere!” is something I can imagine being said when they built my house. Things are just thrown where they fit and the cabinets basically force us to just stack things on top of each other, meaning that ten things need to be moved in order to get to another thing. Like apes, we are living! Nowadays, conventional and microwave ovens are built into countertops, fridges have a dedicated space, pots and pans are hung by simple hooks, bins are built into drawers, dishes and other crockery are stacked vertically and the list goes on and on and on and... Essentially, everything is just an easy slide away, unlike the creativity of whatever bunch of morons put together some of these restrooms; perhaps they lost it behind a cereal bowl.

If there is anything you’re going to change about a bathroom, you’re first and most important order of business should be the door, because trying to make a clean-break out of a bathroom with an automatic hand-dryer is a lot like if you tried to scrape gum off the bottom of your shoe with the wrong end of a used-syringe – what the fuck is the point?


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  2. I like Dyson hand dryers too and we also installed it in our cafe. I think, it makes our cafe more modern and attractive for visitors. I've heard about their "Airblade" dryers but I think it is more expensive to make service of it..What about dry filters are they the same for Airblade? I found this one exactly for this type and it costs about 65 euro..Not so cheap!