The Agony of Paper Towel Dispensers

This might seem at first blush to be yet another E/N post about something that doesn’t really make a difference. But when you’re in a public restroom, when the stakes are high over sanitary conditions, it matters more that paper towel dispensers work properly.

For some reason, it seems like I’m the only one for whom these dispensers will work. The ones I’m talking about look something like this:

2493_mechanical-towel-dispenser.jpg

You see it, right? It says right on these machines that you’re supposed to pull down on the paper towel with both hands. When done right, the next one loads, and that’s one less surface in an unsanitary restroom that we have to come into contact with. But hold on, the one in the picture uses an illustration instead of words. So, there’s even less of an excuse to mess this up.

Yet, people still do. Oftentimes, some meathead will go in, do his business, then after washing his hands he’ll yank down on the towel with one wet hand, tearing away at the towel, and leaving the next guy with the onus to turning the knob to get the next towel to dispense.

We don’t want to turn the knob. It’s usually a moist germ farm which, upon contact with it, would necessitate washing one’s hands again.

Why even install mechanical paper towel dispensers in the first place? Why is so much mechanical complexity even necessary for something as simple as providing paper towels? You know what would be a lot more efficient? Just leaving a stack of paper towels on a shelf. It would be a snap to just take one, and it would be much easier for the janitorial staff to replace them. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is the easiest one.

And no, I don’t want to dry my hands with those blow driers. You know which ones I mean, they’re the ones where you hit the button with your elbow to get it to run for a few seconds. They also have the motion activated driers, but you’d have to nearly touch your hand to the machine to get them to work. Then you’d have to rub your hands beneath them for about a minute-and-a-half, then maybe they’ll get dry, but not likely from the air supplied from the machine itself, but from the friction of rubbing your hands together.

The makers of those blow driers must know that they’re junk, because they went an made an “improved” version: the jet drier. Those ones blast your hands so hard that you can see an indentation from the air blowing from the machine as you put your hand under it. Is all that force really necessary? I don’t want to get stretch marks just from drying my hands.

If it’s really worth getting your hands dry, then sometimes it’s worth sacrificing a few trees. I know that the pretext is saving the environment, but when I’m in a public restroom and my hands are wet, it’s paper towels that get the job done right.

I know I’ve been doing a lot of complaining lately, so I think it’s about time I present a solution: to spread those paper towels around. It goes like this: If you see a public restroom that uses garbage mechanical dispensers or those smug air driers, make note of it. Then, next time you visit the establishment, take some paper towels with you and set them out. It might be somewhat inconvenient, but you’d be making public restrooms slightly more bearable for the rest of us.

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