Monday, April 06, 2015

Technology is annoying the crap out of me

After a quick check, it appears that I’ve written quite a bit about bathrooms and plumbing in this blog, along with the ordeals one must go through to avoid having our houses destroy themselves as a result of bad DIY plumbing jobs (anyone remember my own personal Sarlaac?). Well, the good news is this story is NOT about home plumbing. It's about office plumbing, and the convenience brought to us by the wonders of modern technology. Or, more accurately, how that technology has completely failed us.

My place of employment recently relocated to another suburb about twelve miles from the original location. Our old building was a certified "green" building that included many tree-hugging and energy-reducing features, especially in the bathrooms. The new location was built with an equally environmentally conscious mind set, with even later-and-greater technology that brought promises of saving the Arctic ice shelf, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and making it just that much easier to poop with a clear conscience.

In both cases, the technology implemented to reach these lofty goals has utterly failed.

Let's start with the old building. First, there were the toilets. Above the toilets were two buttons. The buttons were unmarked, but it was pretty clear that pressing one button enacted a weak flush to save water, while the other button launched a torrent of water destined to flush a multitude of golf balls in one shot without clogging (yes, a #1 and a #2 button, as it were) .

The problem was that there were also urinals in the room. Thus no one using the toilets ever hit the #1 button. The #1 button just sat there as an overly expensive but useless feature, like so much gold on a new Apple Watch.

Then there were the sinks. These sinks had motion sensors that were so fickle it was virtually impossible to wash your hands. In some cases you had to wave your hand violently around until it responded, and in other cases the water would come on as soon as you put your hands underneath the faucet, only to shut off a second later. And there were no temperature controls, so the water was always cold. Sure, we saved the environment by using less water, only to destroy humanity by passing along a massive bacterial infection due to poorly washed hands.

And don’t get me started on the motion sensor lights, which usually turned off halfway through a typical visit to the men’s room, leading one to wonder if he should stand up and wave his hands to get the lights on again, or just sit there in the dark and continue catching up on his Facebook feed until someone else walked in. Not that I updated my Facebook feed whilst in the bathroom. I mean, if I did, then my Facebook friends would know EXACTLY what my poop schedule was each day based on the volume of my posts, right? Hey, Mike must be having stomach issues today…he’s commented on fifteen people’s posts this morning! No, I’d never do that.

When we moved to the new building, we had high hopes for improvement. The building committee was well aware of the past struggles, and we expected something that worked better. And, at first, everything seemed to be vastly improved. But then reality set in.

The sinks were fine. They had hospital-style handles, which could be turned on or off at our leisure. Great. But the sensor soap pumps…oh, the sensor soap pumps. There were three sinks, each with one of these motion sensor pumps:

One spits out nothing but a small soap bubble. The second spits a good wad of soap, but will time it’s spurt to the precise moment where you THINK it’s broken and take your hand away, so that the soap ends up in the sink. The third spits at just the right time to get a good dollop of soap on your hand, only to spit a SECOND dollop as soon as you take your hand away. Sigh.

And then we get back to the toilets. Motion sensor toilets. Why, oh why, are toilets made with motion sensors?

Let’s think about this. You sit down. You do your business. You stand up. It flushes. Umm…how about the rest of what you gotta do in there? As a result you have to flush a second time once you’re completely done, wasting twice as much water as expected. 

And then there’s the low-tech toilet paper rolls. They look kind of like this:

And they are mounted six inches off the floor. SIX INCHES OFF THE FLOOR! How exactly, are we supposed to get toilet paper out of that?

Yes, all this technology, put in place to make it easier to wipe our own butts while saving the Earth at the same time. And ironically all it makes us want to do is drown a harp seal in frustration. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m gonna go pee outside behind a bush.


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