Thursday, February 15, 2007

Reaching guys when they least expect it

A person has to set some rules. Me? If I’m admonished by the urinal drain during a moment of repose in the men’s room, I know it’s time to skip the next drink and find a ride home from the restaurant. Amazingly, I’m apparently not alone in that conviction. Even more astounding is New Mexico’s plan to wield that code as a curb on car accidents. According to news reports, the state has just outfitted alcohol-selling establishments in several areas with 500 talking urinal cakes, those sanitizing disks that make you feel there’s a touch of the hospital in even the nastiest men’s room. They’ve been placed in the men’s rooms of restaurants and bars in hopes of reaching the patron who’s impaired enough to have trouble with his aim but is still planning to get behind the wheel of a car.

The devices are motion- rather than touch-activitated, negating the need for accuracy. The stroke of brilliance is loading the cakes with the purring voice of a woman, who actually refers to you as “big guy.” Put a big check on the safety punch-list next to “Step 1: Get impaired patron’s attention.”

Then the voice admonishes Lover Boy to “call a cab or ask a sober friend for a ride home,” according to an Associated Press story. First the flirt, then the hurt—she’s only playing with you, to get you to do the right thing. The voice may be simulated, but the situation is real life.

The AP story says that the talking cakes cost $21 each and have already been used in a number of other states, both as a way of curbing impaired driving and as an advertising medium.

Reports of a toilet sanitizer that yells at a user to put the seat down appear to be purely urban myth

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