About eight years ago I used to teach a course on the N.Y.C. Building Code. The lectures were for three hours each and the Code is not exactly fun. Besides my students were dragging after a full days work.To sustain their interest, I would try to come up with anecdotes such as this one…
For obvious reasons,the Code mandates that wall mounted urinals be surrounded by a certain minimum width of tile on all sides. However, though the prescribed width of tile was quite considerable, it was proving inadequate because men are ‘careless’ when they urinate. The situation was particularly bad in the men’s toilets at Kennedy airport where it was creating a hygiene problem.The Port Authority ( which manages the airport) tried a number of ways to get airline pasengers to be more careful when they pissed. Nothing worked . In desperation , it hired a consultant to look into the problem and come up with a solution. The consultant did some research and found that Schipol Airport in Amsterdam had experienced a similar problem and that the authorities there had come up with a marvelously simple solution. A solution that cut down the ‘spatter’ by more than 95% and yet cost next to nothing.
At this point, I would ask my students to think about the problem for 5 minutes and see if they could come up with the same solution. When they couldn’t I would let them in on the secret…
But first, can you guess how the Dutch solved the problem ?
The solution was to etch the facsimilie of a fly in each urinal. Faced with such a tempting target, men find themselves almost compelled to piss on the fly. Voila! Problem solved. This little anecdote would result in some smiles and a few guffaws and the class would be more attentive for a few minutes at least.
Incidentally, this is a true story. You can check it out yourself when using the facilities at Schipol or at the NYC airports. I recently came back from a trip to India and I had to visit the mens room at JFK urgently. And yes,I positively drowned the little &^%$#@ !