Discussions: Those Damned Automatic Sinks

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How I hate the automatic sink, and I want to talk about it.

According to many studies conducted on bacteria and illness, some of our most personal and beloved items are the grossest. Sure, most people are aware that infectious germs may be present on their cell phones or credit cards, but how many [women] are aware that ladies' purses are germ bombs, most notably the bottom of their purses? I thought I was slick shit when I learned this, but I was not. Why? Because I read the comments posted by microbiologist Charles Gerba and started taking greater care with the inside and outside of my purse. Most notably, I got used to keeping it off the ground in public. Why is this an issue? Because when there is no hook on the back of a stall or private bathroom door, I put my purse on the edge of, or directly in, the sink.

Yep. Rather self-defeating reflex, isn’t it?

Worse, I become a creature of habit quickly, and so much like Homer Simpson, I will try to grab that donut no matter how many times it shocks me. In this case, let us consider the donut is my purse and the shock is the automatic sink at my daughter’s behavioral health practitioner’s office. So it was both a surprise and not a surprise when I walked into the bathroom at the DBT clinic this week and--without thinking or looking--absentmindedly placed my purse, my giant, Harry Potter tent-like purse, into the sink.

The lagging, 256 MB RAM, Windows '95-based computer that has become my brain reminded me that this was a bad idea, but only because it recognized the sound of running water, not because it was actually computing. Asshole computer brain. I turned around just in time to see a forced jet of Olympia city water splatter into the purse compartment that holds my wallet, cell phone, and on this particular occasion my Galaxy Tab 3 as well.

”Oh fuck. Shit … Goddamnit. Now look at what you’ve done.” I tried to mutter these words under my breath, but the looks on the faces that met me when I re-entered the waiting room told me I did not mutter quietly enough. “I put my purse in the sink,” I tried to explain when I sat down next to someone who obviously did not give a shit. I even went so far as to show him the wet mush of Kleenex I pulled out of my purse. He was not impressed.

While I waited for my daughter’s appointment to be over, my mind drifted from hating that bastard automatic sink to all the other bastard automatic sinks that lower the quality of my life: the ones at the Capital Mall Theater, the ones at our local Wal-Mart… . The list went on and on. “Well, what automatic sinks actually work?” I asked myself, and I could not think of a single one. Not one single automatic sink in my life is a non-bastard automatic sink. Not a one. Either they only work when seven hundred dollars-worth of mobile technological devices are placed under them or not at all. Worse, some of them—like the ones at Wal-Mart—are water teases. Like parasitic, remora-esque women seeking Sugar Daddies, they put out a bit to get invited to the dance. And that’s it: that's all. Once I am lathered up (much like a Sugar Daddy), they dry up. No water for me, no matter how I wave my hand in front of the laser eye. Close up? Nope. Quickly? Nope. Steadily? Nope. “Begone,” says the spigot, “I’m done with you. Unless you dangle that there cell phone within damage range, you can wipe those suds off yourself. Go see my friend over there, the paper towel dispenser … the automatic paper towel dispenser!” (Insert robotic maniacal laughter here.)

On the other hand, every “normal” sink I encounter in public makes me happy. I control the water flow and temperature, and I can use a paper towel to push the handle down if I am unsure of how often the bathroom is cleaned.

So why, America’s businesses, do you install these damned things? Do we use that much water? What's your opinion, Poopreporters?

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2 Comments on "Discussions: Those Damned Automatic Sinks"

Jack Schitt's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorl 100+ points

I agree the auto sinks suck. That being said, I'll take those ten to one over the damned paper towel machines that don't put out enough to blow your nose with let alone dry your hands. Wave your hand for six inches of paper towel, try to wave again for six more inches, but the fucking thing won't dispense anymore until you rip off what has already been dispensed and wait five minutes. I could air dry my goddamned hands by the time I get enough towels. I usually get impatient and finish drying with my shirt.

Otto von Skidmark's picture
m 1+ points - Newb

Personally, I think automatic sinks are just a symptom of humanity's modern obsession with finding the most Rube Goldberg method of doing anything at all. Need to write a shopping list? What you need is this here $300 tablet with handwriting recognition. Pencil and paper? Well, that's lovely, but we call it "appropriate technology" these days, and it's strictly for poor people, preferably in Africa.

I make my living from designing technology (and yes, one job involved designing the sensors for an automatic tap). I still think most of it is an utter waste of time and money.

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