Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Politic of the British Hand Dryer

There are two kinds of hand dryers in London. One is the push button kind, that stays of for a timed period and then shuts off automatically. I kid you not, every single one of these types, throughout London, is mounted extremely high on the wall. Now, I am not necessarily a short person, I am an even 5’5” so I know this isn’t really just a perspective thing. The problem with this, is that if you have to lift up your dripping wet hands higher than your elbows, you get water that runs down your arms. And in my option, that defeats the purpose of hand drying, for now your shirt cuffs are wet as well.
The second kind are the motion censored ones, that activate when you stick your hands under and turn off when you take your hands away. The challenge with these ones is that you have to stick your hands directly under, with as little space as possible between your hands and the dryer for it to activate. This alone wouldn’t be a problem, but there is a hard plastic flap in front of the dryer which swings downward (intended to direct the hot air towards one’s face). The position of your hands directly under the nozzle puts your wrists right up against this plastic flap, and if you do as much as bump it (as one is prone to do when rubbing one’s hands together to hasten the drying process) it flips down and you get a blast of hot air in your face. I don’t particularly put a lot of time in my hair styling these days, but it still shocks me a little to be blasted without a moments notice. I have yet to encounter a hand dryer in this city that does not fall under one of these two categories. At Goldsmiths they actually vary by building, so it is not rare for me to think through strategically about my rest-stops based on whether I am wearing long sleeves or not. I know there are many, many reasons why I hunker down in my room for days at a time, but I am positive avoiding wet cuffs and heated air blasted in my face are high on that list. God bless the (recycled) paper towel.


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