Close Cover Before Striking

Public handwashing. Not handwringing.

So there’s this interesting new bar and restaurant design. It’s not about tap placement. Well, not  in a traditional view of bar taps, that is.

It’s not about the relative space of standing room to table. It’s not about the frenzy to biergarten-esque shared space. It’s not about $15 craft cocktails with artisanal bitters and homemade tonic. It’s not even about beers that taste like the ripe sweat wrung out of a summer half-marathon runner’s shorts.

Nope. It’s about the john.

In paean to efficiency, privacy and the quagmire of single-sex bathrooms, new joints are opening up with a cluster of individual water closets with toilets and, frequently, baby changing tables, to serve the tail end of customer needs. There are a series of doors, could be two, could be eight, that open into a lobby of sinks, all to better wash one’s hands after doing one’s business.

Gone are the days when The Big Guy and Baby Bear would lament the lack of personal hygiene of their bathroom cohorts. “Doc, the guy DIDN’T WASH HIS HANDS!” (Frankly, I was always pleased to hear this. It made me believe that they were washing theirs.)

Gone because, now, everyone can see the water and soap action of anyone leaving the toilet. I especially like seeing the signs above the sink exhorting employees to do the right thing. Now, we all know. Anyone can see. Hand washing has become more public.

The data was there; three in five folks have observed others not washing their hands after peeing or pooping. And one in four people don’t use soap. Eww.

So now, given the public commons for handwashing, there’s a new way to publicly shame people. Guys, women are watching. Women, we all know. Watch your fellow patrons leave the water closet and see if you can make them wash their hands with your disapproving eyes.

Frankly, you should have been doing this all along. Just wash your hands!

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