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This modern world

We’re members of the by-the-truckload-bulk-buy big box store. That’s right, members we are! Yup, we pay to shop there. Aren’t we smart? We’re so cool and good at paying extra that we have a “None of Your Business” membership. As cool upscale members, we are allowed in before the crushing crowds of the great unwashed. In fact, this morning I seem to have been allowed in before the employees.My first order of business was to visit the sleek, super-modern restroom. No one around. I walk in and the place is dark. Blacker, I shall discover, than the heart of a soul-less robot. I start fumbling along the wall for the light switch when “POP,” the lights come on. Apparently, this place has the latest in restroom technology. The bathroom has sensed my presence and illuminated itself.Quickly, I find a likely stall as the feelings of urgency get serious. Just enough time for one of those nice paper gaskets. I detach the toilet seat shaped gasket, lay it down and turn around while descending. WHOOSH! The robotic toilet has sensed my movement and flushed itself with tremendous enthusiasm. Quick as a wink, my gasket has vanished and the toilet has covered itself and my posterior in a fine mist. Because of the mist, I claw for another gasket, set it up in record time and turn to settle. WHOOSH, GAG, GAG, GURGLE! The gasket is gone and I feel misty and damp as though on a honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls. Then, the lights go out.I begin to become philosophical. I am not afraid of the dark.”Hello? HelloooOOOO!?” Picture a man alone in pitch darkness in a restroom stall winging his arms around, trying to catch the attention of the efficient, robotic lights. No luck.I do the best I can, grab my pants as subtly and motionlessly as possible and try to lunge for the door in the blackness before – WHOOSH! I am yet again doused in foggy mist. Out the door in the blackness, clutching my pants, I remember that the light sensor is around the corner of the bathroom maze wall. I start to feel my way around that wall before I remember where the urinals are.Finally, around the corner, the lights pop on with the implied wordless efficiency of, “Well, how was I supposed to know that YOU were still here?” Away from Mr. Misty Jet Bowl and with the lights now on, life was looking up. I quickly strode over to the sinks with the thought, after my recent adventure, of washing my hands, forearms and face.The sinks are robots, too.No handles anywhere, just that winking red eye that leers and seems to say: “YOU. ARE. MINE.” Great. I know the drill; it’s all motion detectors in this wonderful world of robotic plumbing. I wave my hands by the red eye and sure enough, a pleasing three-fingered stream of water begins to jet. I put my hands down there and the water stops. Up down, up down; I may as well be running an old pitcher pump! Finally, balancing on one foot, I get my other foot up there and wiggle my toe. I wash my hands. I wash my face. The forearms are out of the question in my contorted position.Dry, dry. Where’s the paper towel? No paper towel. I am winked at by an efficient wall-mounted blow dryer. This one comes with instructions: 1. Place nozzle in desired direction. 2. Press button. 3. Rub hands briskly in stream of air. And some feckless human had scrawled a step 4 in felt tip pen: “Wipe hands on pants.” No way. My pants had been misted.Glad to be out of there at last; another guy was headed in as I opened the door to leave. “Good luck,” I told him, with a nod and knowing look of pathetic victimhood in my eyes. He looked at me like I was weird or something.Whew, that was an episode! My behemoth shopping cart looked as though it needed running lights and two small tugboats to maneuver into the checkout. Well, these modern machines just need some tuning up, I thought. There’s really no way that they can outsmart a human being.As it happens, the restrooms are right by the checkout. I heard a faint wheedling “Hello? HelloooOOO!?” from behind the closed door. Ha, ha – poor bugger. I smiled and reached for my wallet. Hey, where’s my wallet?! Just then I heard a WHOOSH, GURGLE, GURGLE that sounded like chuckling laughter.Tom

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