Cutting the cheese since 1996

Paper towels: 0, pants: 1

Monday, March 31, 2008

While I'm on the subject of restrooms (I'll avoid the obvious pun about toilet humor — oops, too late), I saw a curious incident this morning. I watched with not a little amusement as someone attempted in vain to figure out the paper towel dispenser.

I'm sure we've all used a paper towel dispenser in a public restroom. They run the gamut from the basic folded-kinda-like-Kleenex-pull-one-at-a-time to the magical Jedi-fantasy-inducing motion-sensor automatic feeds. The particular model in question is in the office, and involves gripping the bottom edge of the exposed paper and giving a good tug, by which a roughly 12-inch sheet is dispensed and perforated. This particular unit is also finicky, and many times there is no paper exposed, necessitating use of the "manual override," which is clearly explained by a label on the front of the unit with a not so inconspicuous arrow.

Our subject in question, who shall remain nameless because I don't know his name, proceeded to wash his hands and turn to the unit. It's been many a time I've turned to the unit myself to find no paper exposed. Damn. Sometimes it only requires a turn of the wheel, and sometimes the paper gets caught in the dispensing slot, and one has to carefully snake a finger up there to dislodge it. Annoying, but not too difficult. So having turned to the unit, he found a small corner of paper exposed. Disregarding the larger label showing two hands gripping the paper that says "Pull down firmly with both hands," and neglecting to gently feed that corner out so that the entire bottom edge of the paper was exposed, proceeded to give that corner a good yank. Having wet hands, you can image what happened: he ended up with a soggy corner in his hand.

Again disregarding the label clearly pointing to the manual override, he proceeded to peer up into the dispensing slot. Apparently seeing some remnant of paper towel somewhere within its bowels, he started sticking his fingers up there. Now, while I mentioned the need to do this from time to time, I should also reiterate this should be done carefully, as there are teeth present for the purposes of the aforementioned perforation. Teeth apparently did not concern him, because he was jamming those fingers in there with reckless abandon. After a few seconds of this, he stopped, stared at the unit and presumably at the labels thereon, and started wiping his hands on his pants.

Having just washed my hands myself, I patiently waited for him to exit before simply turning the wheel to expose my paper towel.