August 16, 2005
Imagine for a moment, that you are in the restroom of some public place, a restaurant perhaps. Notice the reoccurring "rest" in each word. Which one came first? In other words, did restrooms evolve as a place to urinate while you eat, or did restaurants evolve as a place to eat while you urinate? But i digress, back to our imagined trip to the bathroom. You begin to use the urinal...ladies, this part may not apply to you. You begin to do your business, but you notice that some of the stream is being deflected directly back toward you. This is not a problem unless there's sufficient velocity to send the drops all the way back to your pants, which only happens, maybe every third time or so, although it probably varies depending on the strength of the individual in question's detrusor and sphincter muscles, and also the fine motor skills required. You'd think that the species that put a someone on the moon and that found a way to use electromagnetic radiation to heat pop-tarts in 15 seconds because we're to lazy to wait for electric coils to heat up in 40, would have found a urinal design to prevent "splash damage" from normal usage. As I suspected, we have. As you can see from the pictures, the urinal is designed so that the stream hits the parabolic shape of the back wall and then is deflected along the wall, creating minimum splash. If urinal design isn't the problem, why is the floor sticky? Obviously, the answer is user error. Obviously, some guys just can't hit the right spot of the urinal to keep from soaking the floor, and assuredly, themselves. However, it's not difficult to see why. In an effort to keep costs down, the entire urinal is white, and it takes fairly close inspection to see the curvature of the back wall. Since we can't very well see the shape in the all-white porcelain, especially when you factor in shadows, and since noone is going to actually touch the back wall to try to find the curvature, all we can do is give it our best guess. My solution: paint a bullseye on the back wall so that all people using urinals can be sure of where to aim. This also gives you a chance to entertain yourself in case you're the easily bored type. Perhaps, as an extension of that, we could rig up the back of the urinal like the "racing" games at carnivals where the boat or car moves as you shoot the target with a stream of water. To get more sales at the bar, they could even offer prizes to the winner of each race. Of course, there will be no prizes received if the boat doesn't reach the top. This will force the customers to drink as much as possible and wait as long as possible before visiting the restroom, which would also somewhat reduce restroom crowding. To keep urinal racing aficionados out of the bathroom, you'll have to have a duplicate boat set up on the outside or you'd be giving the "let your eyes wander" types another reason to congregate near the urinals. Eventually, this would get competitive and we would need some competitions to sort out just who is the best urinal racer. Maybe we could put the championships on TV, pay-per-view even. I'm sure we could get Budweiser to sponser it and become the official fuel of the National Association of Urinal Racing. Once we have our champion, perhaps Budweiser could organize a Jesse Owens-esque exhibition where Dale Earnhardt, Jr. races against someone at a urinal. Maybe they could switch places and race for charity. No matter what, though, the contestants would have to make sure that it all stays in the bowl. And that's all I ask.