Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Paper towel dispensers

Wow, it's been way too long since I posted something on my blog. So I'm making a renewed effort to do so more regularly, because (as I read someplace that I'm supposed to say to myself every day), "I AM A WRITER!!"

Let's see, how 'bout I start with one of my pet peeves... "automatic" bathroom paper towel dispensers. I've mentioned them before. I haven't met one I've liked. Well, maybe one. But all the others either don't work at all, and I therefore look like a fool waving my hand above, below, to the side, and in front of the darn things trying to get them to acknowledge my presence...or they (reluctantly and for spite) roll out about an inch and a half of paper for me to dry my hands on. If there are other men waiting in line for a paper towel, I feel especially stupid. I know they are staring at the back of my head, thinking "What's wrong with this guy? Why can't he get a simple paper towel dispenser to work?" I've said before in sermons that a man's greatest fear is to be deemed a failure. Well, this is the place where that happens more than anywhere else - more than at home, more than in the board room, more than on the basketball court. It's in bathrooms. The great enemy of a guy's self-esteem is the "automatic" bathroom paper towel dispenser. 

I know why we don't like them and they don't like us. It has nothing to do with that little infrared thing on the front of the dispenser. It's about control. We can't control them. Unlike the old-style paper towel dispensers with the silver crank on the side (eww, germs!!), and unlike the less-old-style kind that you still see in some bathrooms, the kind with the lever you can push (eww, germs!!) that ACTUALLY WORKS, the "automatic" dispensers have a mind of their own. (That's why I put "automatic" in quotes.) No matter what you do, the dispenser has the power in the relationship. And we humankind don't like that. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we've fancied that we could be like God (Genesis 3:5). And when you're in the bathroom with one of these new, no-touch paper towel dispensers, you just can't be like God. The paper towel dispenser is, for that brief, hand-wringing moment of time, God. You're not in control. It is.

So the "automatic" paper towel dispenser is a metaphor. It's a metaphor for the humiliating realization that there are really a very limited number of things that we can control (like, zero). It's a God-centered universe after all and he always gets his way.

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