Thursday, 24 September 2009


er⋅go⋅nom⋅ic defines Ergonomics as:

human engineering 

–noun an applied science that coordinates the design of devices, systems, and physical working conditions with the capacities and requirements of the worker.

Voice of the Alter Ego defines it as:

The science of creating and deploying technology in such a way as to give yourself and your colleagues a really good laugh at somebody Else's expense.

An example of this is the loos at the hotel I'm currently at.

When you walk in, the lights sense movement and come on automatically.

When you wash your hands, the taps sense your hands beneath them and turn the water on automatically.

And naturally, not to mention hygienically, the toilet flush requires no physical contact, detecting the movement of your hand over a sensor on the wall and flushing automatically and, it must be said, vigorously.

This is, you may think, a demonstration of the perfect deployment of technology, and I would be inclined to agree with you.

However (and there is always a 'however'), this is where the Voice of the Alter Ego definition of Ergonomics comes in:

Ergonomics engineers decide that although the light sensor comes on when you open the door to the toilet on the way in......... it is less sensitive when you exit your cubicle to pitch darkness. There is always the alternative of playing basketball whilst using the facilities, but for a man, that would constitute multi-tasking.

We don't multi-task.

IF you are fortunate enough to guess what has happened, you will stand there in pitch darkness, waving your arms like a student of method acting 'being' a windmill. This is fine, unless someone walks in at that moment - triggering the light naturally - to find you standing there, wondering why you are pretending to swim in the middle of the toilet?

If you are not fortunate enough to guess what has happened, you will spend some time, fumbling round the walls in some sort of Fort Boyard type test, looking for a non-existent light switch. This seems to defeat the purpose, unless of course, you subscribe to the Voice's definition....

Ergonomics will also dictate that, as you cannot manually turn on or control the water, you will probably scald one hand, freeze the other and, in all probability, splash water down to the front of your trousers in that way that is so common, but so impossible to explain. This does not however prevent you from trying.

However, Ergonomic's greatest flash of brilliance is reserved for the flushing mechanism.

It is wonderfully clever to create a flush that merely requires you to wave your hand over a sensor on the wall, removing the need for physical contact with something that, almost by definition, will not be very hygienic.

It is truly INSPIRED however to mount it on the wall DIRECTLY above the toilet roll holder.

So, as you sit there (in all probability in pitch darkness), you reach for the paper and WHOOOOOSH. Your hand passes in front of the sensor and you are rewarded with the feeling that you have been sitting - commando - over the blow-hole of a Sperm Whale returning from a particularly arduous dive.

Oh, how they must be laughing at Acme Ergonomics Inc.

Oh what fun they must have, coming up with these wonderful ways to deploy technology.

I wonder if they have any jobs going?