Have you ever gone to use an automatic hands free water faucet after another person, and the faucet refuses to do its job and dispense water? Some people might just quantify this as an annoyance … but to me, it can be a philosophically life altering experience.
You know that the faucet isn’t broken, as you just moments before witnessed it doing the job it was designed to do. The basin of the sink is still wet with water droplets that have yet to find their way to the drain. This can be quite the traumatic experience. You see little reflections of your hands in the water droplets as they slowly roll towards the dark circle, almost as if they are jeering you … “Nah nah, we see your hands, but the faucet doesn’t!” right before they take the plunge and disappear out of sight.
This unfortunate series of events can make you question your being. “The last guy got water … why is there no water for me? My hands are in the same place. I am standing right here. I see myself in the mirror. The sensor should see my hands! Who is telling the truth, the mirror or the sensor? Do I even exist?!?”
After a few moments of sweat beading on your forehead, the nervous tremors subside, but the silence of no running water deafens the cool, should be echoing, porcelain paradise. A peace comes over you. You realize that your sense of self is not justified by a sensor on an automatic water faucet, but by the actions you commit. You realize you truly are a good person. After exiting the bathroom stall, you came over to use the sink and clean your hands. Not everyone does that (yuck). You question, “Why do these terrible things happen to good people?”
A little more self aware and sedate, but still standing hunched over the sink, hands cupped in front, under the faucet, ready to receive the water like receiving the body of Christ, your memory clicks and remembers that yes, you did hear the toilet in the stall flush behind you when exiting. The sensor in the stall did recognize that you were leaving and did the job that you and all who follow hope it does. Although still a little timid about the faucet in front of which you stand, you eye the sinks on either side. You feel a little twinge of guilt as you start entertaining the thought of switching sinks alongside the beginnings of an inevitable sense of defeat that will follow.
However, as your fingers twitch in preparation for the transition, something happens that catches you by surprise. Water starts to trickle down from the faucet onto your hands, making a small puddle in your still cupped palms. Staring down at the newly born droplets of water that splash the sink basin, a smile takes over your face and you feel a sense of pride that is somehow justified but not quite understandable. You have overcome the automatic hands free water dispensing faucet and it has done your bidding.
After soaping your hands and rinsing them clean. You remove your hands and move towards the paper towels feeling prideful for not giving up. Victory! The faucet has stopped its supply of water and all is silent and still in the bathroom as it was before. In front of the paper towel dispenser you are carefree once again and wave your hand by the electronic eye … Silence