Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Son of SuperToilet

In the sweeping need to "Go Green", as it were, the college decided in its august wisdom to install energy-saving lights and water-saving plumbing fixtures. The lights have been pretty interesting; as one of my colleagues has observed, if one's students are sitting still taking an exam and the instructor is quietly grading papers, et cetera, the lights (which are triggered by motion sensors) may just randomly shut off mid-test. Imagine what that's like if you're in a night class? This is what's politely referred to as "The Law of Unintended Consequences".

One of the other things no one took into account when Honeywell (the contractor and arbiter of this sea change) pitched all of this was that the toilets, which have an automatic flush feature, will flush repeatedly of their own accord while one is using them. That's pretty disconcerting, let me tell you, because it doesn't take more than a twitch of the nose to trigger a flush. One of the two toilets in the ladies' faculty/staff bathroom in my building is so hair trigger that nobody wants to use it...and it flushes about every ten seconds. How is that saving water? Besides, it feels like a violation of some kind every time it happens.

The other downside to this little innovation is that before we were relocated for our building's renovation, we were given new water-saving toilets, but ones without the automatic flush mechanism. Because every other bathroom on campus has the RoboToilets, and we didn't, people would frequently fail to flush- simply because they were conditioned that it wasn't necessary anymore. Along with photocopier repair, IT troubleshooting, and psychological counseling of workstudy students, toilet maintenance was something for which library school left me sadly unprepared...

Oh, so when we move back to our building post-renovation, we will have, along with expanded bathrooms, our very own RoboToilets. Having grown weary of what she terms an "unwanted sitzbath", my supervisor has figured out a simple dodge (if only I could remember it!): putting a piece of toilet paper over the sensor. Necessity is truly the mother of invention, after all...

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