Friday, July 18

Me vs. the machines

Some time this year (last year? the year before? hell, I don't know; life is what happens when you're blogging about your cats), they replaced the soap dispensers at work with the fancy kind that magically sense a dirty hand and noisily crank out sanitary foam for your handwashing pleasure. These machines — there are two per bathroom for optimum convenience!!! — have a mystical set of standards for occasions on which they will actually dispense soap to the dirty-handed. Hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth, stand on one foot, use your toes to speed dial your mother, and sing "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" to the tune of "O Tannenbaum," and you might coax the thing into giving you a dollop of foam. Every other Thursday or so.

I've endured my share of farcical battles of wit with those machines and have spent more time than I care to recount bitching at them or about them or in their general vicinity to anyone perched on a porcelain throne nearby who may or may not care to hear my ranting. My favorite move is the one where you hold your hand out beneath the dispenser for five minutes, waiting patiently, and the instant you pull away, hey, here comes a little foam turd for you and now it's on the counter. Awesome. It's especially insulting when I fail at my quest to get soap and wash my hands simply in plain water, and then go to dry them, only to be rebuffed by the automatic paper towel dispenser as well. The paper towel dispensers — there are two per bathroom for optimum convenience!!! — usually aren't nearly as finicky as the soap dispenser (although I have spent many, many minutes of my life waving at them like they're long-lost friends, trying to get them to recognize me and help a sister out), but they are quite often simply broken and/or out of paper.

In other words, I fucking hate these machines. They are a perfect example of machinery created to make our lives easier that, in fact, only complicates things. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the manual dispensers we had before. Sure, you had to touch them and some people get weirded out by that, but come on. What's more unsanitary -- touching a soap dispenser's handle -- which is giving you soap with which you will then wash off your hands -- or going without soap altogether half the time because the frigging things aren't even working?

Oh, and here's the kicker. I found out from a co-worker yesterday that part of the reason why the damned soap things don't work sometimes is because they run out of battery power and just sit there, unusable. They especially tend to run out of batteries on the weekend. So people working Saturday and Sunday often go without soap. Co-worker said the maintenance staff was going to start checking the batteries on Friday afternoons to make sure we could make it through the weekend.

How ridiculous is that? It makes me want to scream when I think of all the little double A batteries (hell, those stupid things may use C batteries for all I know) we're burning through and then sending to landfills for no fucking reason other than perceived convenience. I don't know. It just ... ugh. It's a bit much for me, and I'm pretty much the shittiest environmentalist you will ever meet. (Case in point: Weeks and weeks ago, I bought two of those Schnucks bags meant to be reused to replace the plastic bags, and I have been back to Schnucks exactly once with them. All other times ... of which there have been many, many ... I have managed to forget them, and returned home with a carload of plastic bags. Yeesh.)

So my plan is to buy a big bottle of dollar-store soap and bring it in this weekend for the weekend crew to use and refill it as needed. Maybe it will be just me using it, maybe not. Whatever. I don't care. But I am not fighting with those fucking machines again.

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Blogger dave said...


Fri Jul 18, 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha! Hilarious! My personal favorite: Hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth, stand on one foot, use your toes to speed dial your mother, and sing "Old Time Rock 'n' Roll" to the tune of "O Tannenbaum," and you might coax the thing into giving you a dollop of foam. Every other Thursday or so. Bwahahahaah!

Go for it. Totally. Although someone is bound to swipe it, even if it's the cleaning staff simply to defend their machines and clear off the counter. ("What's next, cans of hairspray?!")


What I meant to say was, "Go for it! Totally!"

Fri Jul 18, 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Lesley said...

Oh, you think that is bad? Huh? Well, our automatic toilets tend to flush while you're still on them. And a little spray will come up with the flush. Not good.

And, of course, it flushes again when you leave the stall, thereby wasting water.

Luckily, our soap dispensers are manual and therefore work much better. But at another place I worked, the soap would dispense only after you'd moved your hand away. I just got accustomed to using soap from the pile underneath the dispenser.

You know a man designed these things.

Fri Jul 18, 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger sarah saint said...

Heehee! The machines piss me off, too. Especially automatic toilets, as lesley covered. The paper towel dispensers, well I usually end up tapping the front with my elbow because it doesn't feel so much like wussing out as frantically waving.

Try keeping a cloth bag in your car. It helps you get in the habit of taking one in the store with you :) And we don't have a Schnucks here, but I know Kroger has handy plastic bag recycling barrels to rid you of all the bad bags. Kroger also gives a discount on groceries if you bring your own bag (if it's one they sell, of course).

Fri Jul 18, 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Donjhudgins said...

Hey, there's not a damn thing wrong about blogging about your cats!

Fri Jul 18, 02:08:00 PM  
Anonymous dollar store merchandise said...

hilarious! thats what i would do.. i would just buy one of those huge litre dollar store soaps that smell nice.... why would you have an auto dispenser, is it that hard to push a button...???

Great post!

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