When did using a public restroom get so complicated? Once upon a time, there were toilets with handles that flushed. There were sinks with knobs that turned and there were a couple choices to dry your hands...a push button hand dryer and cloth or paper towels. Pull and voila, the next one popped out. These weren't always perfect, but they usually worked.
I'm not certain when I first noticed a change. It was probably one day when I attempted to flush a public toilet and couldn't find a handle or knob, but instead discovered a glowing red electric eye, peering at my backside from the shiny chrome. Flattered and yet slightly annoyed that aforementioned back side was apparently not large enough to activate the electric eye, I searched tirelessly until I finally located a tiny button which did the job. Following this, I went to wash my hands in the same facility, only to discover that there were no sink knobs. I waved my fingers frantically around the basin area imagining some elf like creature that would turn the water on as soon as giant hands came into view. Unsuccessful, I peered under the faucet as if the singular act of staring would cause it to release the clear liquid staple of all life. No luck. I observed enviously as one after, women simply placed their hands under the tap and out poured the water. Finally, one person announced that she didn't think that mine was working. Phew, absolved, I moved over to one of the previously used sinks and scrubbed off the germs. When I went to dry my hands, I realized I should have paid closer attention. Again, I waved my digits around what appeared to be an electric eye on a paper towel holder. I tried to turn the knob at the side. I pushed the lever at the bottom. In frustration, I pried open the lid and pulled a fragment of paper towel out of the top.
A short time later, I discovered another new fangled gadget at a road side rest stop in Ohio. It was an all inclusive hand soaper, washer and dryer. All you needed to do was put your hands in and short of rubbing them for you, the machine did the rest. Hands in, soap squirts, function delay while you scrub, rinse water, dry. Clearly, this was the way of the future...or was it? I noted that two of the three cavernous sinks had "out of order" signs posted on them.
My most recent surprise came when I was at the train station. The delapidated bathroom had normal facilities and sinks. The hand dryer however was reminiscent of a muff that ladies wore to keep hands warm back in the 1800's. I stared at it. I tried it. How many potential options could there be? Since there were no buttons, hands had to go in the top or hands into the sides. Although I don't remember the secret now anymore, I did figure it out. Once I did, I was blown half way to the CN tower by the force and noise of this new type dryer.
At a minimal cost to taxpayers of $400,000 Toronto now has a pay toilet. While downtown, individuals are able to locate this one seater facility, and enjoy its comforts for an entire 20 minutes. The price? A bargain at 25 cents. Not only that, it cleans itself! According to my calculations, it should make a profit in about 600 years. I wonder how many shocked foreign tourists there will be, since by all accounts, the door flies open after a designated amount of time. There is a countdown and there are warnings....all in English.
My all time personal favourite new age lavatory can be found in a certain Canadian travel clothing store. It is computer controlled and state of the art. Without elaborating too much, it has heated seats and a complex system with temperature controlled water and wash/dry/cleaning capabilities (and I'm not talking about washing your hands here). Although I have not had the nerve as yet to try all the functions for fear that given my history, something will go terribly amiss, I just might go for it one of these days. Now that's toilet technology to which I can relate.