Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Now let's talk about urinal science

Shall we? (note: the standard disclaimers about squeamishness apply)

There are several different designs for urinals out there. Some of which fall into the "what were you thinking?" category. Our office has ones similar to the Jetbrook 1.0 model (Is that a sly reference to #1?), a prime example of poor urinal design. (Actually, based on a recent field test, I think they are the Kohler K-5024 Darfield models...and yes, I washed my hands)

The function of a urinal is to catch what's sent in its general direction. So, what is the one thing that is most important to consider when designing a urinal? Bad aim. Really, really bad aim. The horridly, wretchedly, awfully, "you got it where?" kind of bad aim. And the best way to control the effects of bad aim is to move the "aimer" closer to the target. The big stand-up floor length models are great for this. The Kohler K-5024 Darfield? Not so much. As a result of being further away, you wind up with whiz (dog water, as my daddy calls it) everywhere you don't want it. Like on the wall on either side of the urinal. And on the floor. And on the walls/dividers between the urinals.

The thing is, the floor, while being disgusting, is not a huge problem. It's tile and it gets mopped semi-regularly. Besides which, I'm only touching it with the bottom of my shoes. (note to self: when crossing legs do NOT grab shoes.) The wall on either side of the urinal is tile too, so while it might not get cleaned very often, at least it's not damaging the wall. What's really bad are the side walls. They NEVER get wiped down. EVER. And the side walls are not tile, but metal, painted in a nice icky beige (my coworker says it's taupe, and she's a girl, so I'll defer to her). So, what happens when pee and metal meet?

First you get a nice perma-yellow stain. Check.
Followed by a dulling of the paint underneath. Check.
Finally followed by rust. Check.

In our office, we frequently entertain clients. We always make a special effort to make sure everything is neat and tidy so when our clients walk through they get a good impression. And what's the first thing that they see when they walk in to use the bathroom? Walls that are rusting out because grown men can't figure out how not to pee on them.

Now, you would think that the side walls would not take too many hits. You would think wrong. Ok, then, you'd think that most of what's on the side walls would be in the general direction of the urinal. You would again think wrong. I noticed one day (as I was standing there) that the damage extended at least 30 degrees BEHIND ME on both sides. We're talking a 240 degree arc here folks. I have many talents and consider myself to be a somewhat creative guy, but I have yet to figure out how to pee behind me (without getting all wet at least).

Say what you will, but you don't have to have a degree in engineering to know how to point that thing. Then again, from the evidence, maybe you do.

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