It’s all too familiar. The complete lack of acknowledgment as I desperately seek a response.
Hel-lo, I mutter under my breath. I’m trying to get your attention.
Nothing. Not even a glimmer of awareness of my presence.
I flick the excess water off my hands again and look closely at the hand dryer. I try to make out some flicker of life in the machine. A blinking light. A switch. Some semblance of a response. But all I see is my dim reflection on the smudged metal as I stare in frustration at the automatic hand dryer. It is sitting so smugly on the wall. Acting like I’m invisible. Making it clear it could care less about me. It is not concerned that not only do I want its attention, but I want it to make a minimal effort to help me dry my hands.
Just like a teenager playing X-Box or watching TV or texting on the cell phone, the machine can’t be bothered.
I take a deep breath, and count to three. Then to ten. I try to calm myself the same way I did when I was frustrated with one of my teenaged boys. When I told myself to pick my battles as pierced ears and waist-length hair and large tattoos came and went. I didn’t blow my top over the Mohawk hair-do or the platinum bleached hair. I didn’t drive the boy with the wayward, unruly head of hair he was so proud of to the barber. I just took deep breaths. Lots of them.
I look at the automatic hand dryer with authority. I am the one in charge. I am the grown up here. This thing is here because of me. For me, and my convenience.
I psyche myself up for the final confrontation.
I put my damp hands in front of the dryer, waiting for the motor to begin. No response. Not even a grumble. I move both hands to one side. Then the other. I splay out my fingers. I hold them perfectly still. I wave them around. I snap my fingers. I clap.
DON’T IGNORE ME! I want to scream at it. I have raised three boys through the teen-age stage, you silly piece of plastic! I have stayed up nights, waking every few hours to feed them as infants, then waking again to check them in a few days (it was the blink of an eye!) later when they had midnight curfews. I have endured all the eye-rolling and disparaging shrugs that come with the teen territory.
AND I AM DONE! Done with all the stages of adolescence, including ACTING LIKE YOU CAN’T HEAR ME!
I realize I am having some kind of a break-down over the automatic hand dryer in the ladies restroom. Not unlike Michael Douglas screaming out the window of a Manhattan skyscraper ‘I AM SICK AND TIRED AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE,’ I am sick and tired of the dryer snubbing me.
I look around the restroom, making sure no one witnessed my display.
I wipe my hands on my pants and tell myself I need to pick my battles, and that the hand dryers (all of them!) that ignore me are not worth making a scene.
I hear the warm whir of the motor as I leave the restroom.
I count to ten again, and think I’d just as soon have teenagers.