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?