Don’t Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining

When TV’s Judge Judy thinks she’s being “spun,” she’s been known to say, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” It’s the title of a book she published back in the 90’s.

After washing my hands at a public restroom in a coffee shop last week, I turned to grab a paper towel. Instead, there was an electric hand dryer.

As usual, the electric hand dryer had a sign indicating I was helping save the environment by using the blower. No helpless trees were destroyed, etc. I’m sure some people walk out thinking, “Dang, how thoughtful! This company sure loves our planet!”

HOWEVER, here are the real reasons they have the blow dryer:

  1. Paper towels are not cheap. They have to be delivered and stored. Electricity, by comparison, is inexpensive and comes in on a wire.
  2. If the paper towel dispenser is empty, customers get upset.
  3. If the trashcan is overflowing with dirty paper towels, customers get upset.
  4. If the toilet is backed up because someone tried to flush paper towels (oh, yes, they do!), customers get upset.
  5. If service at the counter is slow because an employee is busy refilling the paper towel dispenser, emptying the trashcan or unclogging the toilet, customers get upset.

Is it wrong to suggest that the reason for the blower instead of paper towels is sustainability? It’s disingenuous, but it’s a quick, easy rationalization that most people will buy. And no one gets hurt by this little ruse. (Except those who might prefer a paper towel.)

Does making and delivering paper towels damage our air and water any more than making electricity for the dryer at a power plant fired by coal that’s been transported hundreds of miles? Hard to determine, I think.

Final note: If you use a public restroom that has paper towels, don’t try to flush them. The staff and management thank you!

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