It's the little things that really get to you when you're trying to adjust to a new city. Accepting that certain streets don't run parallel, and you're just going to have to deal with it. Coming to terms with the surprising relative dearth of 7-11s. And, the subject of today's epic installment, becoming acquainted with the differences in washroom facilities on campus.
The first time I responded to nature's urgency on campus, after the task was finished, I came face-to-face with the following apparatus:
This, evidently, was a sink. And I had absolutely no idea how to use it. So I stood around for a bit in utter confusion and waited, hands outstretched, for someone else to finish up and show me how the friggin' sink worked. As you'd imagine, this constitutes odd behaviour for a public men's washroom. Since no one seemed to be close to finishing present business, I darted my hands under the sink. While it didn't look high-tech enough, there was a chance, however small, that it had a motion sensor. Nope. And if I looked odd before, imagine how I appeared at this point, hands outstretched like I was waiting for the water to come to me. (Which, in all fairness, I was.)
So I stood there, feeling like a complete dolt, and certainly not like someone who deserved to be in a graduate program. (I study English, dammit! Not alternative sink design!) Then the epiphany moment came. Like the blind men and the elephant, I had failed to consider the whole picture. The sink actually looked more like this:
See the foot rail along the bottom? Step on that, and water comes out the top. It's an admirable design, really, and a low-tech solution to the age-old irony of how you wash your hands after you go to washroom to make things clean by turning on the faucet with your germ-ridden hands. It's also an example of how moving to a new city is about learning new ideas, and accepting new concepts. New concepts concerning sinks.
FYI: if you think you get weird looks in a men's room standing around trying to work the sink, that's nothing compared to the looks you get when you bring out the digital camera.
And, because no discussion of public washrooms is complete without it, here's a link to the top ten most fascinating urinals.
The number # 1 is, frankly, not that impressive in and of itself, but I think numbers 6, 5, and 10 make up for it.