The trouble with public sinks

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I had a run-in with the bathroom sinks in a superstore the other day, and it wasn’t pretty. It also wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. In fact, I’d guesstimate this was run-in #17,483.

I reached my tipping point the other day, though. Enough is enough, after all, which brings me to today’s (semi) rhetorical question. Am I the only one who’s pining for the days of old where public restrooms are concerned? The only one who’d prefer sinks with working handles capable of producing both hot and cold water? The sole superstore customer who expects something more than a light puff of air with which to dry my hands?

The most recent debacle started as I approached the sink to wash my hands like a normal person. I waved my hand in front of the sink, waiting for the motion sensor to kick in and the water to turn on. No luck.

I waved my hand again, this time coming at the faucet from a new angle.

Still nothing.

I decided to step to another sink, which is when the first sink —the same sink that I’d practically been turning cartwheels for—turned on, but only for a nano-second. The time it took to make the half-step back to the first sink was just enough time for the water to cut off, which led to yet another round of hand-waving.

There I stood, waving my hands at a piece of metal like someone trying to hail a taxi. I waved over and around, under and in front of that stupid faucet for five minutes flat. I even backed up and tried a sneak attack. But the faucet ran dry.

I gotta tell ya, this whole sink fiasco was jumping up and down on my last nerve.

I realize the purpose of these magic sinks is two-fold: to save energy and reduce the spread of germs. But I would be remiss if I didn’t offer this note to its inventors: If people can’t turn on the water, they can’t wash their hands. If they can’t wash their hands, we’re not reducing the spread of germs, now, are we? Which reminds me, the best intentions mean nothing if the outcome is poor. But that’s a rant for another day.

Anyway, I started pondering the possibility that I was at the brunt of someone’s sick joke. That someone had set up hidden cameras in the superstore, watching and waiting for innocent hand-washers to attempt the mind-numbing feat of tripping the motion sensor. And what’s the only thing that could be worse than hidden cameras in a bathroom? Hidden cameras blocking the motion sensor.

At this point, it didn’t matter, because the pink foamy soap in my hands had started to dry. Which wouldn’t have been a problem, except there were no paper towels. Only a 1950s model hand dryer. You know the kind. The no-amount-of-briskly-rubbing-your-hands-together kind that you couldn’t coax a decent blast of air out of if your life depended on it. And let’s hope it never does. It was with this most recent discovery that I threw in the proverbial towel—proverbial, as you know, because there were no real towels to be had.

I wiped my soap-caked hands on the outside of my jeans, reached into my tote, and utilized my secret weapon. As I exited the ladies room with my head held high, I gave a nod to the sink. It may have won the battle, but as long as there’s hand sanitizer, I’ll win the war.

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