Dear Bathroom Guy: Have you seen the new hand dryers from Dyson? Those things are powerful and amazing! I’ll never use a hand towel again!
Well, it looks like I’m getting hate mail now. No big deal. I realize that people only attack when they are jealous or frightened. Or maybe this mail is just a practical joke from one of my fun loving colleagues in the industry.
As a bathroom attendant, I am no stranger to the occasional joke or goof. I’ve seen it all over the years: Chuck E Cheese tokens in my tip tray, laxatives in my coffee, fake vomit on the floor, real vomit on the floor...yep, the world is full of jokesters.
But one thing that is not a joke is the way I feel about bathroom hand dryers. I’m going to try and put my emotions aside and explain this issue in a clear, rational way.
Nothing is more controversial in the bathroom services industry than the public restroom forced air hand dryer (or as we call it the sucky blow thing.) Many good bathroom attendants lost their jobs when this horrible contraption started to become popular. I don’t think that I am overstating my case when I say that the world was a better place before the hand dryer was first introduced.
Businesses began thinking that they could save money by eschewing the warmth and personal touch provided by your friendly neighborhood bathroom attendant for the cold, impersonal robotic shine of an electronic hand dryer. The ridiculous boxes started appearing everywhere, and our nation’s economy began to buckle under the weight of the many jobless attendants. Many found jobs elsewhere in the service industry. Others found occupations where their professionalism, efficiency and attention to detail could be better put to use...nuclear engineering, neurosurgery, and the military special forces. Even though they moved on, I’m sure they still longed for their former careers in the noble bathroom profession.
However, the cruel joke of the situation quickly became apparent. Hand dryers can’t greet you with a smile and a laugh as they facilitate your hand drying like a bathroom attendant does when he hands you a towel. They can’t wish you luck as you make your way back to the dance floor. They can’t recommend that you try the death by chocolate dessert at the end of dinner. They can’t say “How ‘bout those Reds?” or “Have a lovely evening!” or “Hey man, you’ve got TP stuck to your shoe.”
Besides the human touch, hand dryers fall short in other ways. Hand towels are the superior device in many other areas. As a sign of my solidarity, I’ve personally boycotted them, and never actually used one, but I’ve collected a great deal of anecdotal information to this effect.
For one thing, they don’t get your hands dry. You stand there for a few minutes, and then just wipe your still wet hands on your pants. This is not only unsanitary, it may result in wet spots on your pants, which is the clearest example of a bad bathroom experience. Many studies have been conducted to examine hand dryer’s sanitary qualities, and they always fall short. All you need to know is that they are blowing out warm bathroom air onto your hands. You might as well rub your hands together next to a pig pen. Plus, the warm air tends to dry out your skin, requiring some moisturizing lotion. It sure would be nice to get some lotion at a time like that, but, OH WAIT! There is no lotion available because they fired the bathroom attendant!!!
Paper towels are also useful in other ways. Seemingly every night, I have a patron ask me for some extra towels for them to put to use in other ways besides hand drying. Cleaning up spills, holding onto for the inevitable sweats that will happen later, and of course: stuffing. Ladies and gents in social situations often require a little extra padding in certain areas to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex.
Some day, I envision a world where electronic hand dryers are put in their rightful place...the nation’s landfills. I will triumphantly walk over top of them, and go to the bathroom on their grave. I will then wash my hands, and dry them with a towel.