We have a new soda machine in the hallway of my workplace. It has one of those environmental sensors on it so it will turn itself off if no one has ventured by in a while. The object of such sensors, they say, is to conserve energy. I think it's an insidious way to tempt one into buying something one doesn't need by honing in on one's other senses...or perhaps by scaring the daylights out of the would-be consumer.
The other day while walking down the hall, I became startled when the machine suddenly whirred to life, blinked on and off and on a couple of times, charged the freon in the cooling chamber and beckoned me to buy an icy cold beverage. After I stopped shaking, I found myself hypnotized and started patting my pockets for change. Fortunately I didn't have enough money that day, but I realized to my shame how easy I could give in to corporate suggestion.
Speaking of scary things, we tackled the master bath toilet over the weekend by replacing the wax gasket underneath the bowl. Who knows how long it had been since that pleasant task was completed. It had to have been several years, at least. I had gloves on, and that was enough protection for the job, but I wondered about that guy (you know the one) who has to replace the wax seals underneath the commodes at the public library, the gas stations or even the bus depot in Seattle. If I see that guy, I think I will shake his hand--provided he's wearing gloves--and buy him a nice lunch.
Perhaps the commode creators ought to come up with a sensor device like their soft drink counterparts. The toilet would know when the gasket needed to be replaced and could blink, honk or make some other noises to let you know. That way, if it scared you half to death, you'd already be in the right place.