Automatic bathrooms make life less simple, less eco-friendly

Credit: Thomas Hofman/Photo Editor Credit: Thomas Hofman/Photo Editor
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I try to avoid public bathrooms at all costs, usually for the same reasons you do. When I can’t avoid them, I make sure that the process is as swift and painless as possible. The inclusion of automated devices in bathrooms, including the bathrooms in the University Center, should aid in this process, yet upon further inspection they waste both time and resources. Let me go on to explain (in not too much detail) how they affect your public bathroom experience.

You enter the UC bathroom with your objectives in mind: find a stall, take care of bathroom activities, clean up, and get out. Now from my experience, as soon as you enter a stall, the automatic toilet paper dispenser will activate because you are standing in front of it. Preemptive measures are fine, unless the toilet paper was already hanging down recklessly and is now touching the bathroom floor.

No, thank you.

Already the automated services of the bathroom have not only made things awkward, but have also wasted that once-usable piece of toilet paper. So you take care of business. After that is over, you have to deal with this automatic toilet dispenser again. You act cordially and give it a wave, until you realize that the sensor isn’t where you were flailing your hands. Now that the sensor is located, you have a fresh supply of toilet paper.

Here’s where things get tricky. You may not have realized it, but there is a sensor on the toilet that has been watching you since you entered the stall. It has been watching you. After the shivers dissipate, you realize it received a degree from the Automatic Toilet Paper Dispenser School of Inappropriate Timing and starts flushing too early. What was once an opportunity to finish bathroom activities at your own pace is now an adrenaline-fueled race to take care of business. Being stressed with your pants around your ankles is not fun.

More often than not you lose the race and now you have to flush again. While the wasted water from two flushes per one bathroom activity is a travesty, you have hands to wash. Once you have soap and start washing your hands, you begin to think of how much spare water funnels down the drain from the time you are ready to dry to when the faucet finally stops running. You think about when everything in your life became automatic and when you stopped making your own decisions. You think, “I should stop philosophizing and dry my hands now,” and step up to use one of the hand dryers. You may not have any skin left on your hands after they’ve spent ten seconds under the F-18 powered dryer, but now you can finally leave the bathroom.

However, the damage is done. Water, paper, and time have been wasted in your response to nature’s calling. While automatic bathroom devices were designed to improve lavatory efficiency, they often make the experience less efficient. Forsake automation and take matters into your own hands. Just make sure to wash them afterwards.