John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A 27-year-old woman was left as a newborn in restaurant bathroom, but now is tracking down her biological mom on Facebook.
Take another swirl down the bowl of Toilet Tuesday:
JUSTICE FOR BURGER KING GIRL
Let this be a warning to all delinquent parents: If you abandon your newborn in a restaurant bathroom, your kid could reemerge decades later and blast out details of your life to thousands of Facebook strangers.
Such is the case with Katheryn Deprill, who after having three kids herself has grown very curious about the identity of her own biological mother. In 1986, Deprill was found crying and swaddled in a sweater in the facilities of a Burger King in Allentown, Pennsylvania; the authorities never discovered who left her there. So last week the 27-year-old EMT went to her social-media circle with this cry for assistance:
If you can't read the sign, it says: "Looking for my birth mother. She gave birth to me September 15th 1986. She abandoned me in the Burger King bathroom only hours old, Allentown PA. Please help me find her by sharing my post. Maybe she will see this. Thank you."
Deprill's post has since been shared on Facebook more than 27,000 times, proving the power of a good origin story and the enduring attraction of Internet detective work. In an interview with the Associated Press, she says that if she manages to meet her mystery mom, she plans on shooting her with a T-shirt cannon loaded with soggy Whoppers. No, actually she sounds commendably short on vengeance:
"Number one is, I would really like to say, 'Thank you for not throwing me away, thank you for giving me the gift of life, and look what I've become,'" Deprill said Monday.
She'd like to know her family medical history, as well. And she has so many questions about the circumstances of her birth and abandonment.
"What made her do it? Why did she feel that she shouldn't leave me at a hospital? Was she going through a horrible time?"
All good questions! Unfortunately, nobody has stepped forward to assert maternity, perhaps due to a fear of prosecution (though the statute of limitations expired long ago).
IT'S A HAND DRYER... NO, IT'S A SINK... NO, IT'S...
Not many people want to increase their time in a public bathroom. That's why the Dyson Airblade is kind of nice – it combines environmentally conscious design with a quicker exit from a generally undesirable place.
But could we push the speedy-green bathroom engine even harder? Donald Vitez of New Jersey certainly thinks so, with his Maker Faire-tested device called the Robo-Washer. Looking like a big kettle-corn cooker, the Robo-Washer squeezes a sink, soap dispenser, and hand-dryer all into one package. Gizmodo UK has details:
Everything inside the Robo-washer is touch-free as well. So you don't have to worry about a bunch of brushes scrubbing and scraping your hands. Instead, high-powered jets spray soap and water onto your dirty mitts, cleaning them as you move them around inside the machine. And then when all the soap and dirt has been rinsed off, air jets dry your hands.
Not only can you squeeze more of these machines into a public loo, reducing lineups, having everything contained in the box eliminates countertops that are usually completely flooded. It also helps guarantee someone's hands actually get properly cleaned since you have to wait for the scrubbing cycle to finish before the dryers kick in. Which makes it perfect for restaurant staff and other employees who handle food.
The only large design flaw I can see is psychological: For the same reason we don't just go around sticking our hands in holes in the ground, might there be a natural hesitation to jam body parts into the sucking maw of an unfamiliar machine? Still, this kid seems to really dig it:
• An irate man in France decided he wanted to "fight the system," so he packed the cash dispensers of 17 ATM machines with poo. Reports The Local: "Police said he’d been collecting faeces for a couple days, though they didn't specify the source, before he scooped it into the machines with a spatula." Paging Romenesko: Is it OK to report this story without knowing the poop's true "source"?
• The tale of a snake swimming up somebody's commode and causing derrière-launching mayhem is fairly old. But this toilet snake from the Mumbai area sets a new journalistic bar to hurdle: It's a dang cobra that's 6 feet long, as wide as a swollen fire hose, and so violent it trashed a bathroom. Here's Poltergeist-esque foreshadowing from the Mumbai Mirror: "Desai's 45-year-old wife, Shilpa, had just used the toilet on Monday night when she noticed that everything – the toiletries, buckets, water mugs – were out of place. Some of the items had fallen to the floor."
• The Sochi bathrooms have trapped another athlete. First, American bobsledder Johnny Quinn physically tunneled through a recalcitrant door in February, hard labor that must've ruined that shower-fresh feeling. And on Thursday, U.S. Paralympian Steve Cash, who plays sled hockey, got stuck in the john and had to make an "air hole" with an adjustable wrench (he survived). From his Twitter: