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by Jason Torchinsky
American Collective Unconscious Item:
Hand Dryer Modification
One of the few Anthropology classes I was actually awake through discussed Carl Jung, and his idea of the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious seemed to be the idea that, for a large population, there would be a series of beliefs, or myths, or ideas that everyone seems to believe in, whether they realize it or not. This seemed an interesting idea, but I can't say that I ever really put much stock in it.

Until now. See, on our recent trip to Seattle, something struck me. Something other than Charles' angry fists when I dumped that entire milkshake down his pants in the van. Something about the collective unconscious. I finally found a real, tangible example, in something as humble as a rest stop bathroom: the Hand Dryer.

See, in every men's bathroom I've been in (I can't speak for women's rooms; my brief forays there have always ended up with me in the hospital) if there was a hand dryer (I was going to explain what a hand dryer was here, but, shit, whoever doesn't know what a hand dryer is maybe shouldn't be on the net) at some point somebody had tried to modify the instruction panel in the following way:
  • "Push Button" becomes "Push Butt"
  • "Rub hands under warm air" becomes "Rub hands under arm"
  • This instruction is always scratched into oblivion.
  • Below the previous instruction is written "Wipe hands on pants"

That's good stuff. And I've seen it on hand dryers all over the US, east coast to west coast and all the states in between. At least all I've been to, which is um, well, a good number. It never fails. And, each time, I've grown to love this piece of ingrained American folklore. And I want to do my part to help it out.

See, I feel guilty for never actually defacing a hand dryer myself. Like I haven't done my part. So I'm making it up today. Instead of clumisly, illegibly scratching out the directions, I'm providing a great alternative. Below on the page is a special hand dryer label I've made that incorporates the canonical modifications. Print a bunch out on sticker paper and go nuts. Improve old, illegible dryers. Deface some new ones. Go ahead! It's your right, your duty as an American bathroom user!

So, stand up, be proud, push your butt, rub your hands under your arms, and, with God and everybody watching, proudly, defiantly wipe your hands on your pants!

Click here for a print-outable sticker page!

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