Jen Doll is a former staff writer for The Wire. She is the author of Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest.
No awkward bending over necessary.
Staplers may be old and lovably reliable, but ye olde water fountain is a'changing. If you've ever faced the frustration of not being able to fill your bottle of H20 to the top because you have to tilt it to align it with the stream, thereby causing water to run out, creating the most frustrating modern-day scenario since Sisyphus dealt with his infernal rock, there is a new fountain for you. As The Wall Street Journal's James R. Hagerty writes, executives at Elkay Manufacturing Co. are to thank.
These enterprising folks noticed that people carried around water bottles, and when they tried to refill those bottles, they enacted "the airport dance": "a sort of shuffle done by travelers trying to tilt bottles at the proper angle for refilling without splashing water on their shoes." Related issues: The old water fountains might be more likely to be considered germy (you know someone put his or her lips on the metal!), or tooth-breaking (what if you slip and fall?). No one liked that bending-over, hunched pose in which you feel like someone might push you or grab your pocketbook. And it seems you can never get enough to drink in the time you're there.
With those realizations, a new model of the old fountain was born, with other manufacturers following suit with their own versions of a fountain at which one can refill bottles easily. Elkay's creation, at right, dispenses 16 ounces of room-temperature water in 5 seconds, or 7 seconds for refrigerated water. That means it's even faster than the old 20-second model. You need only set a bottle down under the spigot and the flow is automatically turned on. Like magic, "The user needs to pull the bottle away in time to avoid an overflow. That action stops the flow. If a daydreamer fails to pull the bottle away, the water automatically switches off after 20 seconds." And it's possibly less germy, because the nozzle is behind a plastic protector. But despite the lack of germs, it has a viral aspect, per the
One of the most inspired features is a digital counter, showing how many bottles have been filled. "I thought that was a dumb idea," says Jack Krecek, who spearheaded the EZH2O project before leaving Elkay to run another company. But the counter ended up helping "make this thing go viral," he says. College students liked showing how green they were by tracking how many plastic bottles had been kept out of landfills. Some held intra-campus competitions to see who could reuse the most bottles.
Look for one near you. They're in at least 15 airports, writes Hagerty, including O'Hare and La Guardia. I used one at a gym in Seattle recently and, yes, there's no need to bend over in a crouched position only to find yourself unable to take in enough water to really quench your thirst. No need to keep looking behind you to see if someone else is waiting. Stand tall, put a bottle under the spout, fill 'er up, take the bottle out, and get on with your life.
Progress, you are so hydrating.
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.