Toiling to be smart


By Marla Boone

Contributing columnist

If you are potentially offended by the fact that your basic bathroom equipment might be smarter than you are, you have two choices. Number one, you can either quit reading right now or number two, you can brace yourself to be humiliated.

Speaking of number one and number two, and because I do not shop at Technology R Us, I just recently became aware that yet another appliance is now labeled as “smart.” You have your smart phone, your smart TV, your smart alecks. Today, through the marvels of science, advertising, manufacturing techniques, and a very very vivid imagination, you can be the proud/humbled owner of a smart toilet. I am not making this up. There is proof. When I saw this thing in the hardware department, I distinguished myself by breaking not just into laughter but into loud, uncontrolled snorting guffaws. Then I further enhanced my standing with the shopping public by stopping in the aisle and taking photos. Multiple photos.

The smart toilet I saw had so many features, it took four pictures to capture all the script. But you can bet your, well, bottom dollar that I did not want to forget a single detail of this marvelous machine. It’s quite a chore to choose a favorite component but the control panel has to be a strong contender. There are eight icons on the panel. There is naturally the ubiquitous on/off circle symbol. Yes. You have to turn the toilet on and off. So another yes. This toilet has to be plugged into a wall outlet or hard wired or otherwise hooked up to a 120 volt power source. I’m not sure what sort of characteristics this appliance has in place to prevent an extremely unwelcome electrical short but we have to assume the U.S. Department of Toilet Safety is on top of this. Why else pay taxes?

There is also a button with a little green leaf on it. This means either the toilet has an eco-friendly mode or an actual leaf is offered for the finishing-up. There is a light symbol and, sure enough, one of the many photos shows an “easy to use lighted side button to guide you.” The fan icon is fairly self-explanatory. Two similar buttons show jets of water being directed in different directions, both of which are, I’m sure, appreciated. Most ominously, there is a square red button for, who knows, emergencies? Why not?

For your bathroom comfort, the smart john offers the following features: a built-in memory system that regulates seat settings, adjustable water pressure and temperature, adjustable heated (!) seat settings. In parenthesis it says four levels. Up? Down? Backward? The possibilities are endless, right along with other things you never knew you wanted in a toilet. There is adjustable dryer temperature and, saints preserve us, it’s easy to clean. Here we have the most striking advance in bathroom utility since the first Sears and Roebuck catalog went into an outhouse, and it doesn’t clean itself? The market for a $1,200 smart toilet might be a little small but if anyone ever comes up with a self-cleaning toilet, they won’t be able to shove those things out of the factory door fast enough. The price itself is a little suspect. The sign says the price is $1199. There is a 123.59 rebate. The store does the math for us but unfortunately, it does it badly. It says after rebate, the price is $999.99. Not where I went to school, it’s not.

Just like your garage door, the toilet comes with a remote control. I’m trying to think of a use for a toilet that could be directed by remote control and I’m sure I’ll have nightmares for weeks with the things that have popped into my head.

While the control panel might have some competition for favorite component, there is no contest for favorite picture. Right there in full color, under the heading of “superior performance” is a photograph of a bucket of golf balls being poured into the toilet bowl. I don’t need to mention I am not making this up because my mind simply is not capable of having originated this thought. The picture shows nine balls already in the bowl with a yellow range ball bucket dumping more in. The text (by which is a little golf ball basket icon) reads “Flushes a bucket of golf balls in a single flush.” The picture looks like a nest of turtle eggs which does nothing to reduce the ick factor.

So, if you find yourself in the market for a toilet that would make your great-grandmother roll over in her grave, run to the store with $999.99 to see if the guiding light holds up better than their math.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today

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