Touching Story for Earth Day

22 04 2010

Well…  Actually this is a story about non-touching…er…  a story about touchless paper towel dispensers.

The company I work for has installed these things in virtually every bathroom on the premises (and we’ve got a lot of bathrooms because there’s a lot of premises).  It seems a number of my coworkers are concerned about having to press a lever or crank a handle that someone else may have (gasp) actually touched.

To prevent the obviously impending epidemic of Ebola some happy salesperson at Georgia Pacific signed a contract to mount these things everywhere and now we’re all protected from moist fingerprints.

So far so good.  I mean, I have enough neurosis of my own that I can tolerate this sort of crap in others.  But in coddling these tendencies we’re letting people get carried away.  There is a growing sect of ultra-germaphobes who are so terrified of touching anything that another human being has handled, that they carry their automatically dispensed paper towel to the door where they use it to pull the door open and then toss it on the ground.  WTF?

To make matters worse a few employees seem to get a kick out of using the touchless dispensers.  So if there are three lined up on a wall, they wave their hand past all three and rip-rip-rip.  One fellow in particular (we could call him Big Androgynous Al) likes to do this twice in a smooth motion so that he can have an impressive wad of six paper towels which stay in his hand for less than three seconds and then make an audible thud when he drops them in the trash can.

I’ve done some electrical work in the past and it occurred to me when these machines first went in that it must’ve been a huge undertaking.  Having to pull a new circuit to each and every bathroom to support these new devices would’ve been time-consuming and very expensive.  So, one day I asked the maintenance guy about all this. 

“Oh they run on batteries.  You’d think we’d use rechargeables, but nope…  regular alkalines and we just toss ’em when we’re done.”

What?!?  So each and every one of these hundreds of machines runs on four D-cells?  But…  If you visit the site, the company that produces them talks about how ‘green’ they are!  Supposedly they cause you to use 20% less paper (let’s go talk to Big Androgynous Al) and they even have a picture where they’ve photo-shopped in a huge lush green leaf and a lady bug being dispensed from the machine as proof that they’re rain-forest friendly or whatever.

Now I’m pissed.  The truth of these machines is a long way from what the claims are.  Do they figure in the batteries when they calculate the “cost savings” or environmental impact?  Has anyone from the company observed Big Androgynous Al or his ilk to see how they actually *use* the damn things?

If we really have to use the touchless dispensers, let’s at least find a way to plug them in and put a delay timer on them so Big Al has to wait thirty seconds or so to have his environmental impact.




One response

22 04 2010

Maybe this at least explains where all the ladybugs are coming from…

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