It is late Sunday night, I guess most people spent their time having fun, going out, and enjoying the events of summer. I guess I am weird in that in 48 hours, I trimmed out a house, traveled 6 hours to see about spaces and places to actually innovate and prototype in a quasi-skunkworks way and found everything actually in place, and the people actually know what they are doing. I must have had a glazed look on my face when they asked, "what do you need, how can we help you?"
(you have to imagine me looking around my shoulders, wondering who they were talking to and seeing no one else.)
I don’t know if I should feel grateful for the solution to the problem, or cry because there was a solution in places in academia, but I fear people are trying to reinvent the wheel for their career – and not what is probably best for the students and community. A great example is the image of the sign, and how we sometimes have too many PHD's for our own good.
Don’t’ fret, I say the same thing about NGO’s that are more interested in building up a nice life for themselves versus actually solving the problem they are chartered to solve. It is easy to generate awareness…you just spend money. If is really difficult and sometimes impossible to solve the actual problem, as that would require work that might take 2-3 generations for systemic change to start to happen.
This morning before I did the speed day of church, fab lab, and getting certified yet again for the third time in 4 months on a laser cutter, I did a double take with a sign I saw on the coffee shop wall. In some respects it really is akin to the issue I have seen with the crossing over of corporate, academia, and not for profits in the world. It isn’t that they can’t work together, but rather, each has a culture and way of life – much like moving to another country – the rules for the native are second nature – the one coming in is a bit clueless and instead of, “when in Rome, do as the Romans.” It is very easy to hold onto your traditions and ways you know, how it was done a certain way, and the idea that change is hard and takes effort and energy when “good enough” is simply the standard of the day.
So in the image, I see a woman, man, handicapped and Braille for the blind. Why can’t one call it a bathroom, wash closet, unisex toilet, etc, mystifies me. What I swear happened is in the world to be politically correct, common sense went out the door and instead of just saying “toilet” the executives at said company, making a nice paycheck, had to rationalize their intelligence by trying to reinvent the wheel for a place on urinates, defecates and washes ones hands…to the “gender neutral restroom”
Say that fast a few times and imagine a man or woman about to explode from a long trip on the road and having to relieve themselves.
“Excuse me, where is the bathroom”
“I am sorry we don’t have any bathrooms anymore.”
“Uhm…do you have a toilet I might use?”
“No, we don’t have a toilet, that term was outlawed last month”
“How about a wc? Wash closet?”
“No, never heard of that. Where are you even from?”
“Ma’am I am going to explode and wet my pants if I can’t relived myself. You mean tell me you don’t have a place to go to the bathroom?
“No sir, I am required by law to point you into direction of our, gender neutral restrooms, they are over there.”
“huh? It is bathroom?”
“No sir, it is a gender neutral restroom”
“Does your company force you to say this?”
“Yes sir, they do, if I say toilet, bathroom, or any other logical or normal term, I will be fired for insubordination of corporate policy.”
“Wow, is it just as difficult to get a cup of coffee here too?”
“Oh no sir, I can get you a coffee…what would you like?”
So I can see where corporate protocol when from common sense to the simplicity of allowing anyone to use a toilet, as there is a skew between men and women in that area. Women have to wait in lines as they have more steps to accomplish the task, men are much simpler (even mentally) and the concept of anyone using a toilet is fine with me. But…I can still see the marketing folks saying, “send it to the lawyers so we make sure we don’t offend anyone and get sued” while they slap themselves on the back because when they make their next presentation to the directors of the company to show what they are doing, saying “gender neutral restrooms” in a presentation has enough ambiguity to guys more worried about ROI and stock price than what do you call a place were you can go take a dump.
What I noticed is race wasn’t included on the sign, so I am tempted to write to the corporate folks and ask why different nationalities and colors are not inclusive to the sign and could lead one to a potential discrimination backlash by some group that has nothing better to do than to file lawsuits to change “toilet” to “gender neutral restroom for any race, nationality, or color”
While I love great signs and the use of them, I have to say, the USA is getting way off base with individual wants versus common sense needs.
Ok…that is the ramble of the morning. i probably need a shave, shower and a few more neurons to fire, but i think it is going to be a good day. you have one as well.