This Really Blows


I like to think I am an easygoing guy. I try not to get too excited about things in advance. I maintain a level head and a moderate level of excitement unless something is truly extraordinary.

And every once in a while I come across something that turns me into a fanatical evangelist who can’t shut up. I feel the need to tell every single person about it. People I know, people I don’t know, and anybody who happens to be having a conversation. It’s like a cake that I can’t eat enough of.

But several years ago I found something in a public restroom that changed my life. It made me so crazy excited that I didn’t know what to do with myself. And every time I see it, even if I’m in the crappiest of moods. It lifts my spirits.

Now normally a trip to a public restroom is an awful experience. I’ve heard from women that their bathrooms are disgusting but I still have to believe that men’s rooms are even worse.

And of those bathrooms, it seems like the ones at New York area airports are the worst. They smell like a depressed vacuum of souls, wrapped up in a hollow resonance of gross.

And they are barely hanging together. The products in these restrooms are never of the finest quality. The paper products and soap are industrial and for the barest minimum of functionality.

Specifically, I have never pulled off some toilet paper and thought to myself:

Wow this is going to be a wonderful experience!

No. It’s usually something more like:

Ya know what? I could use this to sand down those shelves in my apartment!

And that usually happens right when I walk into the bathroom because I have to take off a batch of toilet paper to wipe the pee off the seat.

There are no happy surprises in a public restroom. A happy surprise usually ends up meaning soap in the dispenser. I went to a movie theater in South Carolina that had 7 sinks and 6 of them…. SIX were out of order. I mean if you can’t even keep your sinks working I think its time you get your money back from the contractor, plumber, or monkey who built your bathroom.

But there is 1 surprise that exists in public restrooms. It is a device, no, a machine that does things that no other machine can do. It turns air into magic, and turns wet hands into dry ones.

I am speaking of course about the Xlerator hand dryer.

Now maybe you are one of the unfortunate few who have never laid eye on, or hands under, an Xlerator hand dryer. You might be sitting there thinking

It’s a hand dryer, what’s the big whoop?

Well I’ll tell you what the big whoop is! It kicks to life like a jet engine and blows the water, ALL the water, off your hands in less than 12 seconds! It's like a wall mounted leaf blower... for your hands.

This hand dryer is from the future. It is science fiction. It is a contraption of Orwellian significance. It is like getting the Internet in 1907 or finding skittles in a sarcophagus. It is so far ahead of the rest of the pack of hand dryers out there that is almost not fair. It makes those other hand dryers look like assholes.

And speaking of the other hand dryers, let’s break down the categories.

First you have the push button hand dryers, which are the worst in the world because that means that I have to use my hand, the hand I just washed with soap (if there was any) to push that button that was pushed by somebody before me who didn’t wash their hands. So now I have an extra germ on my hand.

Which is why I use my elbow to push that button, or my shoulder… or my foot. Yes I know that defeats my point but I wouldn’t have to use my foot if there wasn’t a button now would I?

And that’s fine if it’s at normal height, but if its lower, then I look like an extremely special individual with no idea how to work the machine. It’s a lot like my elevator experience.

And then there are the automatic sensor hand dryers, which I don’t have to touch, thank god. But they are so weak and pathetic I feel the need to put my hand on its shoulder and tell it:

Hey buddy, it’s going to be OK.

Its not even like it’s drying anything, it just feels more like I’m putting my hands in front of the face of a feverish mouth breather. So then I end up shaking my hands for 3 minutes after like I’m doing the neutron dance.

And I hate doing the neutron dance in the bathroom.

If I am just going to end up shaking my hands that much anyway I shouldn’t even bother washing them. I should just wipe them on my pants straight off like I did when I was 11. And even though I am in my late 20s I still find myself doing that more than I should.

And finally there are those hand dryers that don’t even make sense. It looks like a hand dryer but there is no discernable button, and running your hands under it does not make anything happen. It might not even be a hand dryer. It could just be a fuse box, or a time machine, or something.

That is why I am so grateful for the Xlerator hand dryer. It doesn’t just blow the water off my hands, it blows my worries away. And that is something I could not be more grateful for. One day I hope to be wealthy enough to install one in my home. I could think of no better status symbol.

I mean really the only thing that could make the Xlerator hand dryer even better would be is if they put one in the stall so I could blow the pee off the seat.

But let’s take this one step at a time. I can wait for that development.

Potty Time

I thought I had said all there was to say about restrooms and the etiquette therein, but like many things in this life, as soon as I thought I was out of things to go crazy about, I discovered several more. I am reminded on a daily basis about the incredibly strange, gross, and bizarre bathroom behavior that exists everywhere.

The fear of Swine Flu has helped drill this home for me.

We are at a point in our societal history where we have used up all excuses for not washing our hands. If you have an elementary school diploma and you did not grow up in the jungle, you should be aware of the fact that hand washing involves soap, water, and some vigorous scrubbing.

Not, as some people seem to think, water and some weak shaking of the hands.

People pretty much fit into 1 of the following 3 categories.

1. The Scrubber. This should be everybody, but unfortunately it is not. This individual uses soap and water to cleanse their hands of the filth that has been accumulated between the last hand washing and the present one because the bathroom is not the only place you can pick up germs.

2. The Faker. This person is either too lazy to really wash their hands and wants you to believe they did, or they honestly believe that a quick rinse under the faucet is enough to get rid of the germs. This is also probably the same individual who uses the 35 second rule for dropped food and believes you can get 2 uses out of a pair of underwear between washes.

3. The Balls Out Villain. No soap, no faking, no cares. This human has no need to make anyone believe anything. They ignore germs. They also intentionally park in handicapped spots and most likely punch pandas.

I have also noticed that many people see nothing wrong with bringing a food item into the restroom. I am so completely baffled by this that I can barely bring myself to write about it. I find this to be a grave sin.

The bathroom is a place of leaving behind. There is nothing in the bathroom that you should take with you. Even those fancy bathrooms that offer up candy and Tic Tacs are suspect. I am not a proponent of buying a pack of Juicy Fruit that spent a half a day sitting in a room full of toilets.

Nor should you bring anything out that you have put down in the bathroom. If it touches the counter, or really anything in that room, you should either throw it out or immediately light it on fire. No questions asked.

I mean seriously people, you bring your tuna sandwich or whatever it is into the grossroom (its original name but changed to restroom in 1847) and then place it on the sink. THE SINK! Of all the places the sink is where people rinse the germs off their hands without soap and then shake them around like a cootie sprinkler so those germs are everywhere and not washed safely down the drain like they should be.

Next are those individuals who feel the need to flush the urinal before peeing. Flushing a toilet before going number 2 I can understand. If the previous train has not left the station before yours is about to pull in, that makes sense.

But the urinal? Why are you flushing? Do you have issues with peeing in dirty water? Do you find it offensive sir? Do you require a receptacle full of clean water to pee in? If this is the case, then I am going to insist you stay the hell away from the water cooler.

It does make me laugh though, the urgency which people actually go into the restroom. If I am washing my hands and someone practically jogs into the restroom, I kind of chuckle to myself and think, yea, I've been there before friend.

But if I am in a stall, and I hear somebody stride briskly into the bathroom towards my direction, I feel like they are going to kick in the door like I am running a meth lab on an episode of COPS.

Again, somebody hustled into the bathroom while I was in the stall recently and I braced myself for impact. But he veered into the stall next to me. Even though he could have been one stall down, he chose the one directly next to me.

He then proceeded to pull toilet paper frantically from the roll for no less than 15 seconds. To the best of my knowledge (and you can hear everything when you are that close) he had not commenced his primary activity yet. So I could only assume he was either building himself a formidable nest, or perhaps mummifying a dead Egyptian.

This would have been less stressful for me had this person just put a buffer stall between us.

Hey here's a question. How come no public restroom I have ever been in has a window? Are they afraid that because the smell is so bad that it will make people want to jump? If you put that window in it wouldn't smell so bad to begin with.

There are no secrets in bathrooms. I can always tell when someone in my office is having a bad day by the smell of the bathroom. Some days I walk in and it is so unbearable I contemplate just turning right around.

On a recent visit the stench was so unbearable I gagged. As soon as I opened the door the smell hit me in the face like a hurricane of hot stink.

This past weekend I came across a first. This particular establishment had installed a fan in the corner of the ceiling. How brilliant is that? A fan to blow away the bad. How come this was the first time I had witnessed this?

There is so much good that can be done to improve the quality of public restrooms. The power is in your hands. Literally. That is some change I can believe in.

Or we can just keep peeing in a meth lab full of dead Egyptians.

Your choice.

The Agony of Da Feet

When I was 10 the grooming process was very simple. It was barely a process at that. I had soap, I had shampoo, and maybe some hairspray. there was no moisturizing, no exfoliating, and certainly no trips to the store to buy specialty niche items to help me improve my body.

But things have changed a lot for me. In fact I am sure the 10 year old me would be utterly baffled at the amount of crap I have in my bathroom, stuff that I am not even really sure why I own.

Case and point: There is a PedEgg in my bathroom.

For those of you who do not know, the PedEgg is one of those As Seen On TV products that promises to change your life like nothing you have ever owned before. This one promises to do it through exfoliation.

It is a home pedicure device shaped like an egg for reasons I dare not fathom. It looks like this.
















Notice the word "Professional" written on the egg. I'm sure this is to prevent people from getting this product confused with all of those amateur PedEggs you have been seeing on the market. Damn PedEgg impostors are ruining our economy. THIS one is the real deal. THIS is what the pros use.

As with most great inventions, I imagine that someone was at home in their bathroom using a cheese grater to get rid of the calluses on their heel when they had a brilliant stroke of brilliance.

"Wait a minute. What if I did not need to repair my gross feet with the same device that I use to shred my Parmesan? What if I had an object that was cost efficient, tiny, and shaped like a... like a... like a EGG?!"

Apparently there was an unknown demand, the the inventor of the PedEgg came up with the supply. The commercial that sells the product seems to be a blend of questionable truthiness. They show the PedEgg blade easily getting rid of the dead skin on the bottom of a woman's foot.

OK that seems believable.

Then they show the same PedEgg rubbing up against a balloon and not popping.

WHAT?

How can that be? A device such as this surely must have blades of ninja sharp steel, sharpened to a microfinish by the finest craftsmen to enable us to smoothen our feet! But for it to not pop a balloon? Blasphemy I say! Witchcraft!

So after I stopped yelling obscenities at my television, I decided to try it.

Having recently spent a couple of weeks walking through South America with a pack on my back, my feet were in need of a makeover. Nay. An extreme makeover. My all female team of coworkers kept suggesting a "team pedicure" but I felt the PedEgg might be a slightly less embarrassing and more successful venture.

Wrong again Boomka.

I wasn't sure where I could find this item. but, as it turns out it wasn't hard to find one. They are located with the impulse items near the register at where else? Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Impulse item? Really? When i think impulse items I think candy and gum and glossy mags with pictures of half naked celebrities. I don't think... foot repair.

"Ohhh look! Flavored jelly beans and OH MY GOD my feet DO need to be scrubbed with a plastic egg!"

So I buy my egg (20% off of course) and bring it home. My excitement gets the better of me and I open it immediately. This would be like Christmas for my feet. Though it seemed unnecessary to do so, I read the instructions. I wanted to make sure this really was as easy as had been advertised.

My elation quickly turned to frustration as I started using the PedEgg.

My first problem with the PedEgg is using it requires my leg to be in a yoga position I can only describe as Crouching Neanderthal. Keeping my leg folded up in that stance for more than 4 consecutive seconds without collapsing and smacking my head on the sink is a miracle of strength and gravity.

I finally managed to get myself into proper... um... PedEgging form by sitting on the toilet and leaning against the wall.

Once I was able to accomplish such a feat I began Pedegging myself. Giving myself a PedEggcure if you will. I started out gently, worrying that I would turn my foot into a bloody stump if I wasn't careful.

But that wasn't enough so I applied a little more pressure.

And a little bit more.

And a little bit more.

And a little bit more until I was scrubbing the bottom of my foot so hard I thought I was going to blow my rotator cuff or need Tommy John surgery. Because as far as the PedEgg is concerned, it appears my feet are made out of Balloons.

But I also still had to do the other foot. which means I had to move the PedEgg to my left hand. Now I can barely even wave with my left hand, never mind contort my body into a pretzel while simultaneously sanding off the heel of my right foot. This process took considerably longer.

I checked the results of my effort. Sure my foot was smoother but I was disappointed. If I do a cost benefit analysis on my purchase I come to the conclusion that having a smooth foot is not worth having to pay for a shoulder replacement.

So I just gave up and did what any other guy would have done.

I went and got a pedicure.

Rest-room for Improvement

There are few things on this planet that cause me as much stress as using a public restroom. They seem like simple enough establishments to operate. Use, flush, wash hands, throw out towel, exit. But this is not what happens. It appears (from my personal experience) that it goes something like this;

Use while dancing around

Don’t flush

Dump entire contents of soap dispenser on counter

Wash hands with no soap and splash water around sink area

Scatter crumpled paper towels on the floor around trash can

For some reason or another, public restrooms turn people into wild savages completely incompetent of behaving in a sanitary manner.

Our seemingly civilized country has restrooms that constantly leave me on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And while some restrooms have made tremendous advancements that really put them on the forefront of potty wizardry, I find myself struggling with the same issues no matter where I go.

Every restroom I have ever used has always had a very distinct smell. They either smell like they were just hosed down with bleach, or they smell like an elephant farm. There is no in between.

My first problem has to do with the toilet itself. They are often in poor condition, or have a wobbly seat, or are not clean. Sometimes they are all three. And those little slices of tissue paper that even MacGyver couldn’t figure out how to use do NOTHING to improve the situation. I usually go through about 5 before I get one to work that isn’t ripped or hasn’t sunk to the bottom of the toilet by the time I sit down.

But even if I can bring myself to sit on the porcelain throne, I am very insecure. Nobody looks cool sitting on a toilet. Nobody sits on the toilet with perfect posture and their legs crossed. Nobody leans back like their sitting on a Lay-Z-Bowl. No, everyone sits on the toilet the same way; hunched over, forearms on knees, in the ready position, with their face about 18 inches from the door.

My greatest fear, as I imagine most people’s is, is of somebody bursting into the stall. For whatever reason, people don’t precariously open stall doors, they swing them open as though they are going to yell “Surprise!”

Whenever people knock on a restroom door while I’m in there I get a shot of adrenaline and for some reason I resort to the third person, and in a panicked quasi-pubescent voice shout “SOMEONE’S IN HERE.”

Someone’s in here? What the hell is wrong with me? I guess I get paranoid that if I say “I’m in here” they may not know who I am. And the last thing I want to do is encourage more conversation at that point.

“You're in there in there? Well who are you?”

Yea, no thank you. I think from now on I will resort to Spanish and just scream “OCCUPADO!

In general I really prefer the handicapped stalls. I know its probably not the most ethically responsible thing to do but to be honest I just feel more comfortable. There is space, I can stretch my legs if I want to. Comparatively the other stalls seem just a little claustrophobic. Regular stalls are so tiny I feel like I’m crouched in a cannon waiting to be shot into space… with no pants. And that’s a bad feeling.

So if I can find a toilet that doesn’t look like its falling apart, bring myself to sit down on it, AND lock the door, I am about ready to relax. But some people insist on talking. Talking while standing next to somebody at a urinal is bad enough. I can barely concentrate on one task at a time. But once I am in the stall that is the fortress of solitude. That is quiet time, concentration time. Ladies, from what I understand talking to each other while in the stall is commonplace and accepted. That is fine, you may continue to do so as I will not (to the best of my knowledge) be using your restroom in the near future.

Most of the time while I am in the restroom all I am thinking about is how long it will be until I can get the hell out of there.

I’m not opposed to noise in the restroom. Actually I prefer it. The restroom is a place of noise, of bodily functions. We should feel free to be ourselves there. But perhaps that might be easier if we had some medium volume bossa nova music playing. Something that could act as kind of a distraction sound if you will.

I don’t like to touch anything in the restroom either. I push the door open with my shoulder and flush the toilet with my foot. If it were up to me the whole restroom experience would be very similar to a surgical operating room. I would back into the room where someone would put latex gloves on my hands and scrubs over me. I would do my business and then I would throw everything in the trash on my way out.

But until I can set that up I will be forced to do what I always do; Hold my breath, not touch anything, and be ready at a moment’s notice to scream OCCUPADO!!!


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