Saturday, January 5, 2008

Notes On Sensors

Well, as my friend the Cowboy notes (Technobabble), sensors are invading the bathroom. I'd like to reflect for a moment on the fact that the reason for these sensors is the fundamental inability of humans to properly operate bathroom equipment. As evidence of this take the large sign posted above a sink at a local coffee shop, which details the instructions for washing ones hands (Of course I'm paraphrasing parts of each step here, but not the list as a whole):

1) Turn on the water.
2) Wet your hands.
3) Apply soap and lather for a while.
4) Rinse soap from hands.
5) Grab paper towel from dispenser to the right and dry hands.
6) Using paper towel turn off the water.

I doubt very much that many of us actually follow this procedure in the bathroom. In particular, the action of actually letting the water run while you dry your hands and then never touching the sink with your skin again is one that is likely observed by only the most unique of individuals. Its intent is to eliminate the likelihood that germs from your hand which had been deposited on the sink's hot and cold nobs will not be redeposited on you hands again after they have been rid of the evil microbes. Personally, I wonder whether such an action has any merit at all for me as an individual. Of course, in many of the places where these signs are posted, food handlers are using the restroom after touching raw chicken and the like, but part of me says, "My immune system could use a challenge every once in a while. I mean how long ago was it that humans never washed there hands and here we are today, not wiped out by germs, but actually killing off entire species ourselves much more efficiently then germs will ever be able too." And so on.

Anyway, the fundamental thing that the list implies is that even though, we as individuals have been trained on how to wash our hands for our entire lives and food handlers in particular have literally had training to do exactly what this list says, people still fail at doing it "properly." And so we develop technology to protect us from ourselves, and the result is we go around wiggling at sensors, which makes us feel less human; and maybe we are.

P.S. Here's a tip for those of you who want to wash your hands in something more closely resembling "the old fashioned way" when you encounter a sensor driven faucet. Affix a wet paper towel to the sensor of the faucet and enjoy the non-stop wiggle free flow of water.

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