Automatic lights cause toilet troubles

Some people have a fear of using public restrooms.

It could be a germ thing or simply preferring the “home field advantage” of a personal toilet.

Personally, I don’t care, but I am starting to fear using the facilities at Wichita State.

It never seems to fail that every time I sit down to take care of business, the stupid automatic lights shut off, shrouding the bathroom in shadows.

This doesn’t work for me. I can’t function in a dark bathroom. It goes against everything I believe a bathroom should be.

For me, a bathroom is a well-lit area of cleanliness in which a person can comfortably complete whatever task took them to the facility.

A light shutting off mid-way through the opening round of use does not work.

This is especially problematic for “readers,” which are the people who like to catch up on things such as the latest John Grisham novel while taking care of other important tasks.

Of course, the worst part of the whole ordeal isn’t necessarily working in the dark. Rather, the problem lies in the effort one must exert to get the light back on to finish the job.

I have found using the handicapped stalls to be the best solution.

Granted, I would feel awful if someone who truly needed that stall came in while I was occupying it, but those are the stalls of which the doors open outward.

Therefore, when it is time to restore illumination, all one has to do is swing the door open hard enough it bounces off the wall and closes once again. This movement triggers the sensors and light floods the area.

It is truly an amazing and uplifting experience.

My one true question is can those sensors be adjusted to leave the lights on longer?

It makes sense that they could be, but maybe not. I’m not an electrician or light-sensor specialist, so I don’t know for sure.

But everything else in the world seems to be able to be adjusted to some degree, so why should energy saving devices be any different?

I appreciate the fact such steps to conserve energy have been taken at WSU. I know considerable savings are seen from these efforts.

I just want to be able to use the restroom without having to perform the acrobatic show of restoring light every time I enter the facility.

One option would be to develop some sort of buddy system in which after a pre-determined amount of time the buddy enters the restroom long enough to kick on the lights before leaving once again.

Of course, another alternative would be simply carrying a flashlight with me into the restrooms.

A flashlight wouldn’t light the whole room, but at least I could make shadow puppets on the wall to pass the time while I was in there.

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About toddvogts 830 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at