The Mystery of the Airport Bathroom

Airport bathrooms sometimes bewilder me. The idea of automatic equipment in public bathrooms is a good one; Automatic faucets save water by turning off immediately when not in use and they don’t require users to touch germ-covered knobs after washing their hands. Automatic toilets similarly liberate users from coming in contact with the extremely unclean flush handles of traditional toilets.

While these two innovations seem like positive steps toward conservation of resources and preventing the spread of germs, I have noticed an interesting trend in these high-tech bathrooms: most seem to be equipped with non-automatic paper towel dispensers. Wouldn’t it be more useful to have automatic paper towel dispensers than, say, automatic toilets? Assuming that all patrons wash their hands after they relieve themselves, much of the contamination incurred while flushing the toilet would be largely diminished during the hand washing process.

Now I realize that making such assumptions is unreasonable, but it nonetheless seems more sensible to go the automatic paper towel dispenser even if it means keeping traditional toilet flushing mechanisms. People who don’t wash their hands suffer germy outcomes in any case. Why bother putting in systems to promote cleanliness during the first few steps of the bathroom process if the final stage involves touching a germ-infested handle? Furthermore automatic paper towel dispensers can help keep people from using more paper towels than they actually need, thus saving paper. Why not take it even one step further and throw in some automatic hand dryers? Everyone loves having their hands blasted by those Xelerator dryers every now and again.