Today’s UX Rant: Restrooms, Trash Cans, & Public Heatlh

I think we can all agree that it is in the public interest to promote behaviors which do the most to prevent the spread of germs. So why do I so frequently find myself being forced — by design! — to touch the doors of public restrooms and the lids of public trash cans?

Public Restrooms

So far the only places doing this right seem to be airports, rest stops, and public swimming pools. They’ve figured out this bit of rocket science: Just don’t have a door! Or, if you MUST have a door, make it swing both ways and put a kick plate at the bottom so I can push it with my shoe.

Trash Cans

The most egregious example of this in my life (which is in Boston) are BigBelly Solar Compactors. Why should I have to choose between dodging a rhinovirus and choosing a more sustainable waste receptacle?

More common are the trashcans that insist you push in a spring-hinged door in order to dispose of waste. It’s nearly impossible to get out of this situation without touching the door, which is exactly the thing that has had trash smeared all over it again and again.

How about a foot pedal instead? Or maybe just an open trash can like you see on the street in NYC?

Rocket science.

Today’s UX Rant: Restrooms, Trash Cans, & Public Heatlh

On Disposable Gender

In each stall of the women’s restroom at my workplace there is a little metal trashcan meant for menstruation-related refuse. 51% or more of you will be familiar with such things. What makes this particular incarnation of the beast interesting is the symbol on it indicating its purpose. A white and black icon depicts a hand releasing a long, cylindrical object with a female symbol on it.

It literally appears as though someone is jettisoning her gender. It got me wondering what it would mean if I could dispose of my gender. How would it work? What would it look like? It wouldn’t look like being male because that would just be substituting one gender for another. It wouldn’t even look like a somewhat-neutered Barbie or Ken doll, because they still retain many gendered traits.

Biologically, it would probably just look like me as a child or me as a geriatric, yes? So really gender is a phase, a space we all move through culturally from birth, but biologically only from roughly age fifteen to age fifty-five.

On Disposable Gender