I was in an airport bathroom recently, and here’s what I saw: A bunch of grown men, standing in front of a row of sinks, who were flapping their arms, contorting their hands, and waggling their fingers. Beseeching the faucet for water. Beseeching the dispenser for a paper towel. Often they succeeded. But at what cost to their vanity?
And it occurred to me, this scene is wrong. Deeply deeply wrong. How did we convince ourselves that simple bathroom controls needed to be yanked back from, and made inaccessible to, human beings? Somewhere, there is an MBA with a diabolical spreadsheet showing that airports would enjoy a NPV of $735 for switching to infrared faucets. That spreadsheet seemed sensible to the airport procurement officers of America. But nowhere on that spreadsheet, of course, appeared the “Liberty Value” of turning on a faucet for oneself and having water pour out, as scheduled.
We have been denied the simple joy of control over a tool. Why do we have to beg the Light for service? What have we reduced ourselves to? Why have we designed machines that make us beg them for service?
Let’s kill this idea. Resolved: People should be given the right to turn on a faucet. People should be trusted to turn on a faucet. How do we make this idea stick? Help me.