And The Lights Went Out All Over The World!



Cylon, from Battlestar Galactica at

I am a fan of technology. I think smartphones are cool, although I don’t like them when they interrupt conversations. Computers can do amazing things, and the internet, in spite of being created by the military to host porn, has democratized information. So, all in all, I’m a fan of technology.

However … there are places that technology should not be. Places where, thank you very much, good old plain, analog solutions are best.

Take the restroom, for example.

The word “restroom”, by the way, must be one of the best euphemisms ever created. I don’t know about you, but I have never rested in a restroom. Done my business? Yes. Washed up? Yes. Seen amazing feats of boyish prowess performed? Yes.

Rested? No.

I’m a bit of a connoisseur of restrooms. This is not because of some morbid fascination I have with human processes. No – and this is probably too much information – I just happen to spend quite a bit of time in restrooms.

On a regular basis, I get some special sauce dripped into my veins. (And no, this part has nothing to do with restrooms … although I understand your confusion.) This is done, appropriately in my case, in the bowels of an old building. An old, and until recently, analog building. Not too long ago, though, the twentieth century reared its head.

We got the internet.

Now, I didn’t do a cartwheel or anything – which, by the way, is tough to do when you have an IV in your arm and you are attached to a pole – but that was nice. Cell reception down in the bowels of huge, old, concrete buildings is never very good, so the interweb helps while away the hours while Dr Oz is playing on TV.

Nature often calls during these times, and, when nature calls, I always choose to respond.

I walked into the restroom, and I immediately knew something was different. The light, whose switch until recently had a sign on it saying “Please turn off lights when leaving”, came on. Automatically! Is this some sort of witchcraft? I hesitantly made my way in and settled myself in my favourite stall. Which is actually the only stall, but why split hairs.

So, there I was. Resting and minding my own business. And the lights went out.

Now, I’m not afraid of the dark. As a kid, I was, and so I forced myself out into the dark to confront my fears. I guess I must have been successful, because the dark doesn’t scare me. Much.

The dark, however, makes certain, restful movements more difficult. Not the movements themselves; more like the clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Ron.

I figured – and here is where my technological savvy was most helpful – that the light was motion activated. So, I thought, if I just make some motion, the light will come back on.

It’s sound reasoning like that that has gotten me to this life of luxury that I enjoy  today.

So, I shifted on my restful perch. Nothing. I wiggled around and moved my legs. Nothing.

I reached my arms into the air and sang “YMCA”. Which is tough to do when you are in a small stall with your IV pole crammed in with you.


I carefully stood up and stretched an arm heavenward. Success! The lights were back on. Hurray for technology!

I finished resting and proceeded to reach for the flush mechanism.

Hmmm. Where the heck is it? And what is this blinking red light? Are the Cylons taking over the earth, starting with restrooms?

Again, my vast, technological prowess took over. Perhaps the toilet operates on the same principle as the lights?

I waved my hand in front of the blinking light. Nothing. I tried sitting down and standing back up. Nothing. I even thought I’d try lifting a hand heavenward. Hey, it worked for the lights.


There must be a button or lever or something for cases like this. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find anything.

Shit. Literally and figuratively. You see, I can’t not flush a toilet after I’ve used it. People coming after me don’t need to see the surface of Mars in the toilet bowl. Although, one time, there was a pretty cool statue of Michelangelo’s David.

So I frantically searched for some way to flush the stinking toilet. By now, I’m on my hands and knees, with an IV pole riding my butt. As I grope around the toilet, somehow – and I’m pretty sure there was some divine intervention – the toilet flushed.

And the lights went off. But the lights I could fix, so I figured my ordeal was nearly over.

I just needed to wash my hands.

Until recently, I was able to wash my hands using a simple tap mechanism: I turned the handle and water came out of the tap.

There were no handles.

However, the same spawn of Baltar appeared to be controlling the water flow, so I moved my hand in front of the blinking light.


I tried waving my hand in front of it. Nothing. By now, my frustration level was mounting, and if the nurse had taken my blood pressure, it may have been slightly elevated.

As I tried to calm myself, a voice spoke in the back of my mind. “Ronald-san. Paint the fence.”

When Mr Miyagi tells you to paint the fence, you paint the fence.

I moved my hands up and down, to no avail. “Ronald-san. Try side to side.”

I tried side to side. Then I tried “Sand the floor”.


Out of frustration, I gave the sink the finger.

Out came the water.

I quickly put my hand under the flow, but it turned off; however, I was able to restart it by continuously keeping my driving finger extended.

Success! I nearly cried with relief.

Now, the only issue was to dry my hands. Until recently, I had been able to pull a paper towel out of a slot and dry my hands. Apparently this was too difficult a task to manage. Now the helpful Cylon was suggesting that I wave my hand to receive a piece of paper towel.

I placed myself directly in front of the towel dispenser, drew myself up to “attention”, and threw the machine a smart, crisp, one finger salute.

The lights went out just as the dispenser dispensed some paper towel.

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