Toilets of the Ancients

This particular blog entry struck a chord with me.

Toilets are simple. You arrive, deposit some body substance or other, and you leave. But modern society is trying its damnedest to make this as difficult as possible

toilet1First we have the cut-up doors. Why do we need public toilets with a foot of clearance under the door? In case we faint and have to be dragged out? For air circulation? Or because we may get up to something unsavoury in there?

Then there is the flush. Again, a simple function, made complicated by the addition of revolving seat-washers, infra-red auto flush sensors and disposable paper seat covers for the OCD among us. Whatever happened to a chain and a tank of water?

After the flush we have the hand-washing. What used to be as simple as turning a tap has now become a jolly dance of finger-wiggling, hand-waving and deft swearing in order to get the fucking water to come out. I honestly don’t see why. Surely a mechanical tap that turns off after 10 seconds would suffice and save us all from an early stroke?

And finally there is the dryer. It doesn’t have a button any more. It could not detect a break-dancing elephant standing in front of it  And it reduces towel waste. Hurrah for the end of towel waste.

I want a return to the days of toilet innocence, when you could go for a quiet dump without people assuming that you were about to shoot up, indulge in gay sex, leave the water running or toss towels around with wild abandon.

Somebody, somewhere is making money from having turned our public toilets into places of stress and annoyance, and I would really like to know who that is. So I can send them a turd in the mail. With a pretty pink ribbon on it.

And people – don’t forget the 3rd Strange Shores expats blog carnival on Sunday! Get your funny stories to me, post-haste! It’s your chance to be a part of history. Really, it is.

/ paddy


11 thoughts on “Toilets of the Ancients

  1. Gotta agree with all of the above…….. but… have you encountered the Dyson hand drier. Its basically a bowl which circulates hot air and lots of it. On the plus side it dries your hands in .000000000000000000000000000001 of a second. On the minus if you keep your hands in it for more than that you end up desiccated as a Mummy or worse still you resemble Keith Richards

  2. Hilarious! I for one am glad of loos with half a metre of space underneath… You see, it comes in handy for those awful times when the loo lock is STUCK and just won’t opened. You can then wriggle under the door and flee to safety!

    I love all the finger-wriggling technology of the bathroom!

    And also – the flush-y buttons are important. All loos should have them – as they save water, which is getting scarcer and scarcer on our planet…

  3. Agreed on all counts.

    One thing that’s annoyed me far more than all these things together, however, is being forced to use a toilet that doesn’t have its own private wash-stand during _that time of the month_. I think there ought to be at least one such toilet in every public restroom. The reason? Sometimes, during hell week, accidents happen. And really. Would you want to take care of such accidents in front of everyone?

  4. Sean: Mr. Dyson is the gadget god.

    lafyFi: Yes, use cut-off buttons by all means. But at least have a BUTTON to start the water, and not a vague sensor.

    Felicia: I didn’t think of that. Obviously we won’t have those as long as toilets are designed by men. Maybe we should allow women to use the handicap toilet during that particular few days? No really, I’m serious. Why not?

  5. Once, years ago, when we were at the train station before it opened in Chester, England, Johnny and I only had enough change between us to use the pay toilet once, and we both had to go (don’t get me started on the concept of pay toilets). So I went first and held the door for him. But it turned out to be a completely self-washing and -sanitizing toilet, the mechanism of which was triggered by the closing — and self-locking — of the door. So Johnny, locked in, got himself all washed and sanitized. Disgusting and not a little scary, but at least he got a shower and we BOTH got to use the bog for a mere 50P!

    I saw your comment on my blog today so I popped over, and now I see myself on your blogroll — surprise, surprise! I’ll put you on mine, and thanks for popping your head up!

  6. EGE: You’re going to kill me for this, but… wonderful! I thought that kind of things just happened in sf stories…

    ladyfi: I take it you mean that clean water for drinking and irrigating is running the risk of being in scarcity? We are most certainly not running out of water as such. Of course we have to be careful to keep clean the water we handle, and think again whether we really want to live at the precise places where we know from experience that dry summers come regularly.

    (As an aside: I’m relieved that we don’t have to worry about the seas rising from melted ice from icebergs and ice frozen to the bottom of the shores. (Most of the icebergs and floating ice are under water, and all of the ice frozen to the bottom is under water – and since ice shrinks when it melts, actually that melting will lower the sea level. Sure, there are other sources of melting water, so the net effect will still be a rising sea level, but not nearly as much as was feared.))

    Felicia and Paddy: I don’t mind to have the toilets and wash-stands designed by men, as long as they are designed in a way that permits us to understand how to use them. Not to mention soap dispensers… There is a soap dispenser at Stockholm Bromma Airport which is something special. It’s a “designer dispenser” so of course it can’t show you how to use it – should I press this button… no; should I press this recessing part that looks pressable… no; should I try threatening it’s mother… no. I should put my hand under it, not just under it, but at a very specific place so that it’s photocell can react to my hand and automatically give me a foamy sud of soap. But no way of telling where that exact place is… Squirt. Splortch.


  7. EGE: You mean the whole thing was like a big bidet? Cool. And welcome!

    Rolf: I didn’t think about the ice/water volume issue. But of course it’s true. Now why has nobody mentioned THAT before? And death to sensors! All sensors, everywhere.

  8. I like the half door so I can peek underneath to see if someone is in the stall before trying to barge in. I hate it when people go around pushing on the doors. My bladder freezes up if someone tries to get in and I’m doing my thing, so I try to not do to others that which freaks me out.

    Some of those doors swing shut automatically and in the case of full doors without little indicators like they often have in Denmark (red for locked, green for not – best invention yet for public bathrooms), I have no idea if the stalls are occupied or not. Thus, I have stood outside empty stalls, waiting for someone to come out.

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