Thursday, March 10, 2016


Okay, so the original premise for the TIFPA posts would be that they would be a now and then kind of thing. A special as opposed to a regularly scheduled thing. Now here it is, a Thursday, and once again a post about the Things I Find Particularly Annoying. Number three (or III if you will) in a series which just seems to happen every Thursday. Sure, we only have three data points but I'm seeing a trend here. Stay tuned.

Now this one is Joe's fault. In yesterday's post, Joe left the following comment -

Getting slightly off topic, some of those dispensers are automatic, some not and they do not always tell you. I feel like such an idiot waving my wet hands under the non-automatic ones expecting the paper to come out...actually, maybe I am an idiot.

I'll bet you could call me that in several languages.
I did promise him that I wouldn't call him an idiot, in any language, but his comment sparked thoughts of a number of annoying things about public restrooms. Now I know there is much about a public restroom that your average human finds annoying, if not downright disgusting, but this series is not Things I Find Downright Disgusting. (Which would be TIFDD which is nearly unpronounceable as an acronym. I mean how would you say that? Tiff-duh? Tiff-Dee? Doesn't work for me but...)

I digress.

Okay, first off, when a public restroom is not well maintained and clean, well, that is annoying to me, though in reality, I'm a guy, it has to be pretty filthy before I notice. Let me tell you, I have been in some really disgusting restrooms. Like gas station restrooms. But again, that's disgusting, not annoying.

All I really require of a restroom (other than some guarantee of not coming down with some fatal disease after being in one) is that the plumbing works, I can wash my hands, then dry my hands. What's that? Toilet paper? Nope, not a big consideration. To need TP it would have to be a dire emergency, like nuclear war, zombie apocalypse emergency for me to (ahem) "drop a deuce" in a public restroom. (Sorry folks, one can't discuss restrooms without getting slightly scatological. Paenitet.)

Now I don't need a torrent of water with which to wash my hands, but a dribble is somewhat annoying. (Again the post title is not TIFSA, which is at least pronounceable, but TIFPA. 'Tis a matter of degree really...) As long as I can wet them down, I'm good. I can even fool myself into thinking we're all sanitary if there is no soap to be had. Missing soap is, again, only somewhat annoying.

What I find particularly annoying are deficiencies in the hand drying apparatus, or lack thereof. Again, I'm a guy, I will use my trouser legs to dry my hands in a pinch. But it is particularly annoying to have to do so. Now let's assume that there are some means (other than clothing) with which to dry one's hands after having done one's (ahem) "business."

Now Joe mentioned the automatic paper towel dispensers which can be found in many places across this great nation. I find them to be present in any number of airport and restaurant restrooms. (Though not necessarily in the restrooms of restaurants that are within airports. Oft times there are none in those establishments because there are numerous restrooms strategically locally throughout the concourse, obviating the need and requisite expense to build a restroom within the restaurant itself. Well, except in Philadelphia. Don't get me started on the construction projects in Philly's airport. They are ongoing and place any number of restrooms off limits. I know this because...)

Sorry, digressed there didn't I?

So, I've washed my hands and I look for a paper towel dispenser.

Let me (ahem) digress for a moment (really, again?) I don't really like those Dyson dip and dry blower things.


I mean come on, it's called an airblade for crying out loud, I'm not sticking my hand into anything with the word "blade" in the name. At some point in time they might put actual blades in those things, then you'd have people all over the airport with no hands screaming and spraying blood everywhere. Damned messy that. No thank you. (Okay, to tell the truth, I did use one once. After sighing with relief that no blades were to be seen, I noted that no matter how many times I dipped my hands up and down, they weren't getting any drier. So in my experience, they don't work all that well. If it's to be a blow dryer, let it be one of those Xcelerator hand dryers, thing's like a freaking jet engine where you almost have to brace yourself. Don't be wearing any loose bracelets either, Xcelerator will take those clean off!)


Okay, I digressed but I do love me some Xcelerator. If there's one of those in the restroom, I'm a happy camper. The old hand dryers blew out tepid air like some weak spring breeze and the only way your hands got dry was by the friction of "gently" rubbing them together. (After about five minutes, straight to the trouser legs, I can't stay in here all day!)

Alright, paper towel dispensers. The automatic kind, wie so* -


I mean they look suspiciously like "normal" pull-with-the-two-hands type dispensers, but they're not. See the wavy hand thingee in the picture. It's not saying "hi there," it's drawing your attention to the fact that it's "motion activated," as in "wave your hand here and magically a paper towel will come out."

Well they do come out, usually enough paper towel to dry half of one hand, then you have to wave again, to get another. Wait for it to stop and wave again. But by now perhaps your hands are dry from all that waving. I dunno.

Then when you get used to the automatic types you will be in a restroom and be waving frantically at the thing expecting towels. Only to discover that it's one of those pull-with-the-two-hands type dispensers as noted above. The thing which you've been waving at for five minutes like some enormous fool. (Not gonna say "idiot," I promised...)

One thing that I find really particularly annoying is when you can see the paper towels inside, but they refuse to come out. Like they're off the roller or jammed. They are right there, so close yet so far. In those cases the towels might as well be on the moon! (Which is why I always wear jeans, they are marvelous hand dryers in a pinch.)

Now the pull-with-the-two-hands type dispensers are normally pretty reliable. Except the ones we have where I work. The towels come out sporadically. Even when you pull-with-the-two-hands as instructed and required.

For you see, the perforated towels are run through a machine which has apparently been set to perforate the towel roll at completely random intervals. This will produce really short towels which will cause the remainder of the roll to snap back into the dispenser and either cause towel derailment (as I call it) so that no more towels can be dispensed, or the damn thing jams completely. Most of the time you have to use the whirligig thingee on the side of the dispenser to mechanically roll the towels out. (Sometimes that just creates a bigger jam inside the dispenser. Which you can see. So close...)

My one pet peeve with these type dispensers are the "macho" men who tear the towels off. A sharp tug up and to the side and "we don't need no stinking perforations" causes the rest of the roll to retract into the dispenser like a startled turtle.

For you see, I hate using the whirligig thingee on the side of the dispenser to mechanically roll the towels out. It is oft times wet and slippery with "oh dear Lord what the Hell is that" stuck to it.

Most unsanitary it is. And most particularly annoying.

But that's what this series is all about. Innit?

* Auf Englisch "like this."


  1. And after washing my hands, I then have to touch the door handle to escape the bathroom. The same door handle that the jerk before me just touched without washing his hands. Thus allowing me to fondle him by proxy. Yech.

    Luckily I had set down the coffee cup before the mental image of the handless blood spouting guy hit me. I imagine that if he survived and was asked what happened, he would have said, "I'm stumped."

    If there was a competition for messy bathrooms, I would nominate the after crew's head on an older destroyer. Especially after the ship had been in port long enough that most of the crew have lost their resistance to seasickness. Now the ship leaves Norfolk and steams south through the Cape Hatteras area. That was a messy bathroom.

    1. Oh yeah, door handles and people who don't wash their hands. Hate that.

      Worst head I ever saw was in the female officer berthing area on a carrier. It was a family and friends day cruise and apparently civilians can't figure out how to flush a toilet. All of the commodes were jammed, the water in the sinks was fine but there were no paper towels to be had. They were all on the floor (instead of IN the trash) and most appeared nearly unused.

      Yeah, I found another head to visit until we made it back to the pier.

      Then there was the bus trip from Norwich University to the Coast Guard Academy for a football game. With a bunch of freshman who were allowed beer on the trip, after having had none for two months. The head on the bus was quickly overwhelmed and...

      Sorry, I can't go on, that memory is still too painful even 45 years later.


  2. I was planning on a post about these dreadful dryers, I no longer have to, you covered it all quite well. Truthfully you have me laughing my butt off. You did leave out those towel in a loop things where you get to dry after others on a clean towel but to get to the clean part of the towel you have to yank down on the previously used portion...yeeech....time to hit the pant leg.

    Well done Sarge, still chortling!

    1. I saw a picture of one of those endless cloth towel dispensers. Immediately dismissed them as completely disgusting and "what were they thinking?" It's the previously used part which is particularly disgusting.

      Thanks Joe. You were my inspiration!

    2. If Joe hadn't got to the continuous loop towels I was going to.
      I once worked in a place where those were installed.
      However much the people who use them hate the darn things is at least quadrupled for those who have to replace the towels.
      Then there are the @$$#@+$ who cut the darn things because they're @$$#@+$.

    3. There are people who cut them?!?!?!

      There is a special Hell for those @$$#@+$.

  3. I usually figure out the paper issue BEFORE I wash my hands. Just stuff the wad of paper under my arm until it's needed. Then save one out to open the door handle after Junk Hands Murphy bolts the room without washing.

    That air blade, squeezes the water off. I bury my still attached hands in the thing to a dry area, squint to keep the water from blinding me, then slowly retract my hands. Like a dry hurricane.

    What torques me off, is the urinal with the slow drain. We have one at work. I call it the Russian. I used it one day, flushed it, and it urinated on my shoes... "In Russia, urinal pees on you!" But really it was more of a wave overrunning the little floor mat in the bottom. It horked up and out while I was zipping, resulting in the "not a happy dance". Not at all.

    1. Heh, "urinal pees on you." Love it. Conceptually mind you, not literally.

      "...horked up and out..." I may borrow that, very descriptive it is.

    2. No copyright. Proud to be helpful.

      Those BATTERY operated paper towel unrollers: If there are several in a row, nothing says you can't swipe all of them and take their offerings. I routinely do that to get enough paper to matter in the public outhouse.

      Ripping them off with wet hands is a major faux pas. I usually get a hand shaped wet slop and a negative wet hand hanging chad, hence the get the paper first, under arm, then...... routine.

    3. Ooh, I like that. Access multiple, get enough for what one should have provided.

      Yeah, wet hands and paper towel ripping is just messy.

  4. I particularly hate the automatic towel dispensers. The company that I worked for had them installed to supposedly save money by going with a different vendor. The one in the restroom nearest my lab would always jam and the only ones who had a key for it were the cleaning people who came in at night. Being handy with tools, I found that I could open the lock with a little, skinny screwdriver and clear the jam. I also discovered that there is a switch inside the machine that allows one to adjust the length of the towel being dispensed. Naturally, the size ended up being increased from six inches to the max of about a foot and a half. The downside to all this was that when it got around that I could fix the towel dispensers that I frequently was called to do it in every restroom. One day there was a jam in the ladies facilities in the secretary zone. A rumor started circulating that I was seen sneaking into the lady's room with a little cutie named Joan. Now I should have been flattered that anyone would think that an old guy like me would be attractive to her, but we were only in there for about thirty seconds..........................................

  5. As I've entered my "senior" years, my bladder has started ruling my life. Just finding a public restroom can be a priority with condition being a secondary consideration.

    1. Roger that.

      Or "any port in a storm" as the sailors say.

  6. The college just put the enMotion paper towel dispensers in all our restrooms on
    campus and as you said, they only crank out enough paper towel to maybe dry one
    hand. Being the problem solver that I am, I got my tools, opened one up and found
    that there is an adjustment for how much towel is produced. Now all the dispensers
    in our engineering building and BNSF railroading academy now roll out approximately
    24" of paper per hand wave. So far, the "powers-that-be" have not noticed their
    altered state! Next up, the Technology building.

    1. Ooh, a rebel with a cause!

      Don't suppose you could hit up the airports in Newark, DC, Chicago, Detroit, Charlotte, Phoenix, Fresno, and Sandy Eggo? I mean if you've got time. (Don't bother with Philly, you probably can't get to those restrooms anyway.)

    2. I'll have to see if I can fit them into my schedule! ;-)

  7. Re: your observation regarding the condition of restrooms.

    I venture to say I have cleaned a number of restrooms in my day, from the head in the Goat Locker to the legendary gas station restroom.
    The Goat Locker was a piece of cake.
    Like you, I found the distaff side to be the messiest after unattended toddlers.
    In both the restaurants and the filling stations the ladies room was always the worst.
    The topper is that if there was going to be a flooded restroom it would be the ladies room.
    Yeah, and they could never seem to hit the waste basket.

    1. Ah, a man with experience in the restroom trade.

      Yeah, what is it with the ladies room? The Missus Herself has mentioned that a time or three.

  8. I liked the old continuous cloth roll hand dryers. That was good, greasy, manly-man dirt!

    We live in a sea of air awash with all kinds of delightful microscopic particles. IMO (and this is just me, ymwndv) all the hand washing rigmarole is more or less a mental security blanket. You're gonna get bugs on you whether you wash up or not, and in a public restroom you'll get more bugs touching stuff than not touching stuff, so just touch your own stuff, and be careful. Which brings to mind a conversation I heard many years ago in the head at Oceana. "Didn't your mom teach you to wash your hands after going to the bathroom?" "No, she taught me not to **** (micturate) on my hands!"

    From another perspective, you need to exercise your immune system and download all the current updates, so being to meticulously clean can be a detriment to that end. I'm just sayin'...

    1. Yes, back in the old days the continuous roll hand dryers were definitely manly. I mean most of them had actual grease and/or oil on them!

      I'm not a compulsive hand washer, I just don't want to handle my junk then handle my sandwich, if'n you get my meaning. Yes, there is such a thing as being too clean, we evolved to coexist with any number of nasty critters which are actually beneficial to the environment as a whole.

      But I don't want to have lunch with them.

      Always fascinates me as to how many words there are in English for certain biological functions.

  9. The problem with the Dyson hand driers is that it's almost impossible to keep ones hands from touching the sides and hence being subject to contamination. And YES! I LOVES me some Xcelerator hand dryers! Can't beat the jet-wash! :)

    PS: Johns point about the door handles is well-taken, Most people don't think of this aspect, tho I can ASSURE one and all that my wife the RN who was once an infection-control nurse CERTAINLY AND CONSTANTLY drives the point home to this little Indian, lol.

    1. The state of the door handles where I work is a constant worry. We get all sorts of people in and out of the facility. some of whom seemed to have been raised by wolves if the state of the restrooms is any sort of indicator.

      Which is why I also look for the magical automated door openers when hitting the head. Which I activate (when present) with an elbow. Keeping my hands sanitary and fresh as spring. So I hope.

    2. Those darn door handles are a concern for me especially when they're in a dining establishment where the kitchen staff naturally use the facilities. Kudos to Chick-fil-A for having outward opening restroom doors which are 'elbow activated'. Why can't they all be that way? BTW, Sarge, I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned the tepid water temperatures at the sinks which are no doubt the result of lawsuits in the past.

    3. Just to clarify, the Chick-fil-A outward opening doors are manually elbow activated. Sarge, I take it you like those door openers like we see in hospitals and health care facilities.

    4. Kitchen staff, using the facilities, "THOU SHALT WASH THY HANDS" and, and...

      I've never been to a Chick-Fil-A, I think I need to rectify that. I like the cut of their jib (in many ways).

    5. I do like the doors they have in hospitals and health care facilities.

      I also have an aversion to handshaking, though I control it well. Probably because of all those years in Asia.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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