Sanitized for your Protection


I was working at a client site.  Like a lot of companies, they had a card system for security.  I was issued a card by the admin at the front desk and it allowed me access to almost all of the places I needed to go: the account manager area, the IT department, the server room.  One place it didn’t allow me to go was the bathroom.  The men’s room door had a very official looking number pad on the door.  I was issued a five digit code in order to gain entry.  That’s one digit more than grants you access to the WOPR in War Games.  I was prepared to be impressed.  What I found was industrial grade gray tile, gray counter tops made of artificial marble and two stalls painted – well, gray.

The stalls were old school.  They had actual flush handles instead of the butt sensor that makes the toilet activate when you lean forward.  No overhead compartment with tissue donuts either, just the industrial grade toilet paper rolls under lock and key: single ply, single sheet, about 6,000 feet long on a roll the size of a car tire.  The urinals were nondescript though they had anti-fatigue mats down in front of them.  One of the client perks was a refrigerator full of soft drinks; maybe anti-fatigue mats were an OSHA requirement.  However, I didn’t see them as something desirable enough to steal.

The sinks had the typical one-button timed shot of water.  No hot air dryer and the paper towels were on an off-balance roll.  You pulled and could get a maximum of eleven inches before they would be cut automatically against the Saran Wrap strip inside the plastic housing.  The only high-tech device in the entire bathroom was the soap dispenser.  Rising from a stumpy base, the long chrome neck jutted out over the sink.  You put your hand in front of the nozzle; it gave a little mechanical grunt, and emitted a wad of white cream in your hand.  I have to admit I raised an eyebrow.  If I was Daniel’s age, I might have rolled around laughing on the anti-fatigue mat.  It occurred to me the lock on the door wasn’t to protect the bathroom, but to shield the potential user.

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