Flush of anger

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2012, 12:00am


How lazy do they think we are? I'm referring, of course, to the people behind the automatic toilets and taps that are popping up all over Hong Kong.

I can understand the need for escalators, lifts and those travelators, which are supposed to shorten walking time (but actually increase it because people stand shoulder-to-shoulder on them), because, let's face it: some people don't have legs. Other people are too old or ill to walk. For them, a surface that moves forward or upwards is obviously useful. But automatically flushing toilets? Are people so lazy that they can't stretch out a hand and push a handle or button? Often they don't even work, so you have to fill a plastic container (a sawn-in-half bottle of detergent seems to be the receptacle of choice) and splash it down the porcelain. How does that save time?

But when they do work, they work all too well. First they flush when you enter the toilet. Then they flush when you lean forward to get something out of your handbag. Then they flush a couple of times as you leave, as a cheery goodbye.

Also, the more people get used to these toilets, the less they will be inclined to flush the manual ones.

Some may argue that they're designed for people without arms. But how can they pull down their trousers? And people without arms have no hands to wash.

The other week I was hiking on Lantau and stopped at a rural toilet. As the floor had just been flooded by cleaners, I put my bag in the sink, which was dry and clean. But by the time I came back, the automatic tap had kindly flooded my bag. My mobile was completely submerged.

Of course, as it is an eight-year-old Nokia and not one of those iJobbies, I soon had it working again with the old hair dryer. But still, I think water should come on when I tell it to.