So have you noticed that 90% of hand dryers in public restrooms have the same little sign posted on them? (I actually managed to look this up online to verify that I’m remembering it correctly… Hee! I so enjoy the internet…)
- Dryers help protect the environment.
- They save trees from being used for paper towels.
- They eliminate paper towel waste.
- They are more sanitary to use than paper and help maintain cleaner facilities.
Notice that nothing is said on there about actually getting your hands dry. We all know that if you use one of those hand dryers, you will always end up giving up before it’s done, walking away, and wiping your hands on your jeans. I think the only reason the manufacturer has to have signs lauding the virtues of these little guys is because we all know they don’t work well, and we need to have something to placate our annoyance at having to use them. I mean, nobody walks into the restroom and goes, “Oh, goodie! They have hand dryers!” My first instinct is to look around to see if it’s one of those compromising bathrooms that offers paper towels, too.
I imagine that if the situation was different, and hand dryers worked properly and paper towels didn’t, the towels would have their own little sign. “Paper towels are made of 100% real trees. They help conserve electricity, and they help prevent forest overpopulation. They provide jobs for janitors and trash collectors.” Positive spin makes a world of difference.
I think the language of these hand dryer signs is a little amusing too. “They save trees…” I know this is a relatively common (and legitimate) way to phrase this, but the imagery struck me as funny today. I have news for the hand dryer folks: The tree doesn’t care. Why not? Well… because it’s a tree. I’m sure if it had a brain, mouth, or any sort of emotional response to its environment, the tree would thank the heroic hand dryer makers. But lacking all of those things, I imagine the tree isn’t especially opinionated about whether it gets to chill out in the forest or is ground into pulp to be turned into paper. I’ve never seen a logging truck hauling a bunch of trees down the highway and heard them screaming, “Nooo! Don’t let them wipe their hands on me!” I’m all for conservation and the wise use of our resources, but it’s pretty dramatic to put it into terms of salvation, don’t you think? (Never mind that we’re saving trees by using up a bunch of electricity.)
I also like how these signs talk about hand dryers making for cleaner facilities with less paper towel waste. I think that’s a terribly ingenius cover-up for not wanting to have to pay the janitor to take the trash out every few hours. I really don’t suppose that places which install hand dryers want cleaner facilities in order to make things more enjoyable for the consumer–if they were that concerned about a pleasant bathroom break experience, they would just give us the paper towels. But clean facilities equals less upkeep, which is good news for the people who own the bathroom.
So the next time I’m walking away from a hand dryer and wiping my hands on my jeans, it’s nice to know I’ll have something to laugh about.