Last weekend I attended a conference at a facility that had those sinks and soap dispensers in the bathrooms that you simply wave your hand under to activate the dispensing of soap and the flowing of water. They are supposed to reduce the transmission of germs since there are no knobs to touch. It is an ingenious idea and I am sure it really does keep us all healthier in the physical sense, but last weekend it destroyed my self-esteem.
There I was, just wanting to do the usual thing of washing my hands after using the restroom. I approached the sink and surveyed the situation. Noticing no knobs, I quickly realized these were automated. “No problem,” I thought to myself. “I use these at airports all the time.”
Armed with self-confidence, I positioned my hand under the soap dispenser and awaited my allotment of soap. Nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing happened. Next, I waved my hand under the water faucet to see if it was me or the equipment that was faulty, but still nothing happened. I thought it must be a bum sink, so I moved to another one. That one didn’t work either.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the woman a few sinks down from me had no problem getting her sink to work. But there I stood waving my hands in all manner of ways to no avail. She became aware of my distress when I said aloud that I appeared to be sink-impaired.
Without even looking at me, she promptly came over to assess the situation. When she stuck her hand under the soap dispenser, it worked perfectly. Next, she put her hands in the sink, and the water flowed freely.
You might think this was helpful to me, but all it did was confirm I was, in fact, sink-impaired. Then, another woman approached the first sink I had abandoned as defective and immediately activated the flow of soap and water. This only confirmed how sink-impaired I really was.
I exited the restroom carrying absolutely no foreign germs (thanks to the motion sensing devices), but feeling the full weight of destroyed self-esteem.
When I returned to the auditorium, I was struck by the humor of it all. It sounded so empowering when the last speaker talked about how we all have Self-Limiting Beliefs we need to identify and get rid of in order to reach our full potential. But that was before I used the restroom and added “I am sink-impaired” to my list of SLB’s.
My only consolation was that I was able to activate the motion-sensing paper towel dispenser. That eased the sting a little, but if I can’t even get the soap and water to come out then I won’t have any need of a paper towel, except to mop up the tears that flow from being bested by plumbing.