The Corner

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What Makes It All Worthwhile


From a reader:

I just want to thank you, belatedly, for the inspiration (courage?) you gave me a few years back, to simply use a paper towel to open a bathroom door and to leave the paper towel on the floor if no wastebasket is provided. At my law firm’s office building, and many other buildings that I frequent (and in which I’ve left paper towels on the floor), wastebaskets have been provided next to the bathroom doors within a few weeks of my first paper-towel drop. And the group dynamic is fascinating. At my office building, I had never seen a paper towel on the floor before I first dropped one there. But in the few weeks between my first “drop,” and management’s placement of a wastebasket, there were probably 15 or so paper towels a day dropped next to the door.

I doubt you started the practice. But many San Diegans who now enjoy wastebaskets by the bathroom door in buildings across the city are unknowingly indebted to your publicity of this simple, yet profound, form of protest against unsanitary property-management practices.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Update: From a reader:

Mr Goldberg,
I am an enthusiastic fan of your writing, but I was disappointed to learn that you are one of the ones who drop paper towels on the floor of public restrooms.  I always associated this practice with snitty supercilious types, willfully leaving an eyesore for others to clean up, and I don’t see it as much different from dropping an empty soda can on the sidewalk merely because it was empty and no trash can was immediately available.  That your correspondent proudly considers willful littering to be some manner of “protest” against unsanitary building management conditions is, well, puzzling.

I apologize for what I hope is received in the spirit of a friendly riposte and by no means a rebuke.  Please continue the excellent work.

Me: I thought of putting a disclaimer about not encouraging or condoning such littering, but I figured it wasn’t necessary. For the record, I don’t think I actually advocated dropping the paper towels on the floor. I merely inspired the first emailer to do so. And since it turned out for the best, I’m glad I did.