Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Don't Move!

Back to the subject of public conveniences, loos, restrooms - whatever you call them. Yes, I seem to be developing rather an obsession with them don't I? At some point I'm sure I will have done enough of a survey to publish one of those dreadful books that appeal to a very small market - "Bathrooms Around America". (And nobody steal my idea or there'll be trouble.) Anyway, the other thing that makes me rather nervous in American loos is the motion-sensors.

The most common, and probably the most distressing, is the motion activated flush. The word on the street is that they are designed to sense when your tush leaves the seat, but I have never, ever experienced one that doesn't sluice your naked bottom at least twice before business is concluded. Better hope there is enough paper to dry you off, is all I can say. And for goodness' sake don't sit on the loo to sort through your handbag, pull up a toddler's trousers or have a quick ciggie!

There's also the plastic loo seat cover that is supposed to whizz round and provide you with a sterile seat at the wave of a hand. Usually I find that after several minutes of waving like the Queen, nothing happens and I end up having to do the usual thigh-burning hover over the loo anyway. (I find sitting on the plastic seat cover, even more threatening than sitting on the seat itself. I mean, you just can't see what might be on there.) I also suspect that it's the same two bits of plastic that are just going round and round, conning us into thinking they're new and sterile. What proof do we have I ask you?

Then comes the hand washing. More and more, I'm faced with a sink, one spout and no visible tap/faucet. Again, it's the motion sensor, except these are pickier than the toilet variety. Inevitably, I go for the one that is either asleep or unable to recognise human movement, forcing me to impersonate John Cleese's entire Ministry of Silly Walks in an attempt to get any cleansing action. Last week I was perfecting a fox trot back and forth, unsuccessfully persuading the water to gush, when the Bathroom attendant wandered in and casually said "Pedal on the floor". I was tempted to reply, "I knew that. I'm just rehearsing a number".

Today I experienced my latest motion sensored widget - the soap dispenser. Usually with the soap dispenser, which is a skinny looking tap/faucet, you just have to bang it on the top. Unfortunately, mine is usually empty, so I have to lean over to another sink and steal its soap. Today however, my banging produced nothing. I could see other ladies washing their hands with success and deep satisfaction so I concluded there must have been soap involved. Then it dawned on me - "Surely not" I thought; but yes, I stuck my hand under this tiny soap dispenser and, sensing human need, it spat out a tiny amount of soap. Not quite as much as I would have allowed myself, but perhaps those loo people are fed up with our greedy consumption of soap? Still, I felt like I did in primary/grade school when the playground supervisors (UK - dinner ladies) gave you three squares of paper when you went to the loo. What good is that?

I mentioned the Dyson dryers in a recent post, which are yet to make an appearance in my neighborhood, but I was most impressed last summer in the rob-you-blind restaurants up and down the A1 in England. There's a motion activated machine on the wall which soaps, washes, rinses and dries your hands without you moving an inch. Brilliant - and it works!

Perhaps Sir Dyson could come up with something that'll perform similar functions on my whole house without me having to move a muscle?


  1. If that's a sample I'm greatly looking forwards to your 'Bathrooms Around America' - how scary to get your bum bitten! One autoloo in France started spraying me with water and soap which was unsettling, especially as it seemed to be directed at my feet!

  2. Google "Frances Gabe" and "self-cleaning house".

    Sadly, her invention didn't actually function too well in the long term, and most people wouldn't want to live in a house where every room, effectively, functioned as a shower . . . (Think about it - no upholstered furniture, no carpets . . .)

  3. OMG you have plastic whizz around loo covers, we only get paper ones in OK!LOL

    I'm sorry but call me a dirty girl, but the spitting soap dispensers always make me snigger! ;-)

    You & I need to go on a cross-country loo vacation!

  4. I must say I am fascinated by these "peeing posts"! I wish I had thought of it first!
    BTW..... when we were in Japan, we found their toilets to be a trench, sort of oblong shaped & made out of ceramic. You then had to squat over it.There was enough room for a couple of people if you were so inclined! Was really quite comfortable. Then there was a flush but you could study the contents before it disappeared down a hole forever!

    Going back to yours! The automatic bum washes (if you aren't quick enough) are also in the hotspots of Japan. (IN the outback there is just a dirt hole) so I am told.
    I think these auto washes are a bit dodgy & they don't cater for the slow movers who are getting on in years! I find the thigh burning squats are excruciating at my age, so I go armed with tissue to cover the seat!

    Must get off now or I'll block your system!

  5. Never did get the hang of the squatting loos. Sonehow always managed either to pee all over my feet or soak the inside of my jeans. That visual has probably ruined everyone's day I know!

  6. I hate those self flushing bogs, too.

    I haven't come across the Dyson driers yet. Just motion sensor paper towel dispensers, and they are as stingey as the soap dispensers you mentioned.

  7. the motion sensors in singapore toilets have psychologically damaged my children. i could sue. my kids would now rather wet themselves than be trapped in a toilet which starts cleaning and flushing itself with no apparent human interaction. and the toilet that turned the lights off too... oh dear.

  8. Oh yes, I'd forgotten about those. You're not quite finished and suddenly plunged into darkness. Grrr!

  9. hate hate hate squatting loos, the fear that I'll tumble back and land in that slimy grimy rectangle... Am def a layer of three lines of loo paper down across and back up the seat. Blimey, no wonder queues build up. Dyson Air Blades (I think they're called, they are at Gatwick anyway) are extraordinary, even if you worry you'll never see your hands again.

  10. My children think it's hilarious to flush the toilet when I'm sitting on it, when we're all squashed into one cubicle in a service station, to give me a "bum wash". I don't think it's funny at all.

  11. Don't forget the izol toilet paper that just smeared & that was it!

  12. izol toilet paper? That was the kind that's like tracing paper and completely non-absorbent, right? I wonder if they still use that in schools in the UK?

  13. Hi there, loved those two loo posts - v. funny that the girls stopped kissing the mirror - not so funny getting a bum-wash every time. I like a good old-fashioned loo. But then I would, wouldn't I?M xx

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