Sunday, April 02, 2006

Automatic for the people

On the shoulders of American society's case of mass germophobia comes a new technological revolution--not having to touch things that other people have touched. Because touching stuff that other people have touched is just poo!

Years ago, the burden of pushing or pulling a door open was removed from most supermarkets and warehouse stores. Originally, the thought was that it made for easier access to the disabled and easier for customers to push Wonder Bread and Cheez Whiz-laden carts out the door to waiting faux wood-paneled station wagons. But some smart cookie eventually realized that it also meant there was now a place in this world where we didn't have to indirectly touch the penises and vaginas of hundreds of unsanitary clods who refused to wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Now if one does not care to come into contact with the dermal essence of a stranger's genitalia, what is the next and most obvious public space for advancement in sanitary technology? The restroom! It's one thing when people don't wash their hands in the privacy of their own homes, but it's quite another when you witness firsthand a guy shaking the dew off the lily and proceeding directly to touching your only way out of the room. So stores automated their restroom doors next, right? Why, of course not, you silly twit! They installed motion-sensitive flushers for toilets and urinals and motion-activated faucets and soap dispensers on the sinks.

Fine, fine. We now can make it from the truffle pool to the sink without touching someone else's wee wee or hoo ha juice. So what about that restroom door? Shut your mouth--here's a motion-activated paper towel dispenser instead. Um...ok... but that old school paper towel dispenser was easily operated with a forearm or elbow. It wasn't that difficult to avoid touching it, and germophobic nancies still have to use that paper towel as a damp barrier between their delicate skin and the Petri dish that is the door handle. Now we have a growing pile of moist paper towels festering by the door at room temperature.

We've painted ourselves into a sanitary corner. Or have we? Perhaps if restaurants and businesses are unwilling to invest in automated doors on the loo, they would be willing to remove the doors completely. Take a cue from airports, sports arenas and shopping malls, and take out the doors. Sure, the other customers will get an earful of tearful grunting and echoed flatus, but we'd all rather hear a stranger's ass than touch it.

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