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Auto-flush toilet has a mind of its own

I had the most ridiculous bathroom experience at the American Airlines terminal at LaGuardia Airport on Friday. I went into the stall, put down the protective paper, and sat down. Less than 10 seconds later, I leaned forward ever so slightly and the toilet’s auto-flush went off. Water sprayed all over me. I waited for it to stop flushing and tried to continue my business, but the toilet flushed itself three more times in the next 30 seconds. It was like sitting on a bedet, and I don’t particularly enjoy that experience either. I was in a comedy routine where I simply wasn’t going to be allowed to pee before my flight.

I finally turned around to see who had manufactured this fractured product. Believe it or not, it was a Kohler toilet. I’d always considered them a top-notch brand, but it’s obvious they don’t do much usability testing.

To add insult to industry, when I gathered my things and went to open the stall door, I noticed that the toilet wasn’t flushing. Now that it had a bit of paper in it, it was still and quiet. Aggravated, I cursed to myself and walked out, closing the door behind me. Then I heard it flush.

I thought about going into another stall to see if all of the toilets were acting up — do a sort of impromptu usability study — but then I looked at my watch and realized I was late for my flight.

Next time I’ll hold it ’til I get on the plane.

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  • http://www.graphpaper.com Christopher Fahey

    Funny that an airplane commode would be preferable to a terrestrial one!

    It’s a shame, too, that infrared auto-flushing as a solution to public-lavatory-dirty-flush-lever concerns has replaced a solution that has worked for probably a hundred years: the foot pedal flusher.

  • http://blog.samuelfebres.com portorikan

    That’s funny but sucks at the same time.

    I had a similar experience, surprisingly at an airport as well.

    I was also trying to handle my business and pulled the little protective sheet out and right as I laid it down on the seat, turned around and began unbuttoning my pants, the stupid thing flushed with my fresh toilet sheet and all. I zipped up again, grabbed another sheet, placed it on the seat, turned around and right as I started to pull down my pantalones, it flushed again!

    Growing increasingly frustrated I tried one more time with the same results (I don’t know why I tried again, I guess I thought I could beat it). So finally, I decided to ‘outsmart’ it since it apparently wanted to eat my toilet seat cover. I held the stupid sheet down while it flushed one more time and then sat down while it was refreshing itself.

    Very annoying indeed.

  • http://www.FordRangerForum.com Ford Ranger Forum

    i agree with you on this completely.visited your blog first time today.but will surely come again.

  • http://blog.pahlka.com Jennifer Pahlka

    What parents know is that these autoflush things traumatize little kids. My daughter would not pee in a public toilet from ages 2.5 – 4 because of the violent, unanticipated flushing. I have other friends whose 5 and 6 years still won't go if there's any chance the thing will attack them. They're terrified!

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Ha, I never thought about that. I hope it hasn't caused irreversible damage!

  • kallie

    Every now and then I get surprises too, usually malls, airports or other fancy public areas insist in bragging with newest technologies in toilets. I remember my reaction in the mall's bathroom when I saw few very stylish blanco sinks that had an automated mechanism for releasing the tap water, they also had a mind of their own only the first experiences can be a little bit embarrassing if there are other people around…

  • Kim R

    Out of the greatest frustration, that has built since I started working in this office in October 2008, I Googled “auto flush toilets” and found your blog. I wanted to know if anyone else felt the way I do about them. Then I find that we've had an almost identical experience; mine today was like yours in the airport. Let me clarify. All other experiences have been of me sitting and thinking about how I feel about it and not doing anything except trying not to move too much. Today, I had the hair-brained idea of turning around slightly and covering the damn thing – the sensor – with my right hand. That creates a whole other dilemma, let me tell you! Anyway, upon exiting (finally!) it did not flush. AND, it crossed my mind to test out the others for their sensitivity. We can get into the whole issue as well of just how clean they are when they spew up their water at you and “get you”.

    Anyway, I just thought I'd share with you that I think your blog is fantastic. It's too bad I hadn't come across it before last weekend as I was in NYC for my first time then.

    Back to work now, for me.

    P.S. Next time …. I'm going to take a Post-It Note with me and cover the darn sensor up until I'm done!

  • http://www.buyelongatedtoiletseats.com/ yaikcergar

    Does your toilet seem to flush on it's own every so often? Well it's annoying and, well it costs money. Why pay for the wasted water or a plumper to come out and fix it?