June 20, 2010

"Why is there ice in the lobby men’s room urinals?" asks the NY Times.

In this (possibly useful) article about (relatively) cheap but (somehow) stylish hotels in New York City. I don't go — no pun intended — in the bathrooms where one finds urinals, but if I were writing that article, I would at the very least Google the phrase "ice in urinals" before leaving it in an article. I would know that some readers would Google "ice in urinals" and I wouldn't want to be embarrassed if the answer was something it would be embarrassing not to know. And once I'd done that, I'd know the answer, because "ice in urinals" gets "about 231,000 results" in Google, beginning with "Why Ice in the Urinals?" in AskMetafilter. You see this right away:
There's a discussion of this in The Straight Dope Tells All. The leading theories are:
  • The melting ice acts as a slow, continuous flush
  • Ice cools the air around the urinal. Cool air sinks, which serves to contain the smell
  • Cold discourages drain flies
  • Fun to melt, helps users aim better, compensates for poor male sanitary habits
New York Times, you seem to need a little help, so... let me Google that for you.

37 comments:

ironrailsironweights said...

Sign above a urinal:

"Our aim is to keep this place clean. Your aim will help."

Peter

former law student said...

Greek-owned joints in Chicago did this decades ago. But the last time I saw ice in a urinal was at Pat O'Shea's Mad Hatter (RIP) on Geary in SF. Their urinal was more of a midget bathtub.

meep said...

google it? Why not just ask the manager? I mean, I assume he visited the place just due to that comment. Could he not talk to anyone there?

Skyler said...

Why do you read that rag?

Skyler said...

Weren't they trying to convince us that urine doesn't have a smell unless you add water? Dry urinals are supposed to be the rage, and they're green.

Class factotum said...

I don't go — no pun intended — in the bathrooms where one finds urinals

Not even if the line to the ladies is snaking into the next county and the men's room is empty? Your bladder and patience are stronger than mine.

Skyler said...

"Green" being a pejorative, of course.

Martha said...

Skyler said...
Why do you read that rag?

Well I faithfully read the NYTimes and I am no libtard. The New York Times still provides information not found elsewhere. As for its political bent--good to be aware of what the "intelligensia" is thinking.

I bet Ann read that particular article about relatively cheap but stylish hotels in New York City because she is planning to visit NYC.

So Ann, which hotel(s) if any would you try out?

Pogo said...

It's for more well endowed men, to cool off.

Fred4Pres said...

The answer is all of the above to your list.

A Marine used a urinal and walked out of the bathroom without washing his hands.

A sailor saw this and said: "Didn't your mother teach you how to wash your hands after using the urinal?"

The Marine relied, "Yeah, but the Marine Corps taught me not to piss on my hands." "By the way, why are you watching me at the urinal?"

ricpic said...

The author probably saw a white urinal cake and mistook it for ice.

Pogo said...

One guy said, "Man this water's cold." The other one said, "Yeah, and it's deep, too!"

Or as Milton Berle said, "only pull out enough to win.

Ann Althouse said...

1. If you want a green urinal, just put in blue dye.

2. I'm not about to visit NYC. I'm about to visit the Quad Cities. Can the NYT help me out with *that*?!

virgil xenophon said...

STILL see it a lot in bars in New Orleans. Besides the other opinions add tradition. Remember, before the invention of "urinal cakes" ice was pretty much all they had..

GMay said...

"The New York Times still provides information not found elsewhere."

Yeah, like that story about McCain's affair?

Seriously though, aren't they supposed to have layers and layers of fact checking and yet they can't even find out a simple thing like urinal ice? Granted this is just the travel section, so I don't expect the level of original reporting of say, Jason Blair, but come on.

Honestly, about 20 seconds of thought would save the need for "research" on the subject. I think the author should visit a VFW and ask about what he finds in the urinals there.

DADvocate said...

Ha ha. I've seen ice in urinals a couple of times and thought the restaurant/bar was just dumping ice there to get rid of the ice while still leaving the sinks in the kitchen usable. The commodes would not do because people deposit solid material in them and flush them.

Learn something every day.

GMay said...

"Dry urinals are supposed to be the rage, and they're green."

Dry urinals are usually disgusting.

I'm not sure why the comment about men's hygeine though. Is it about the pube thing?

I mean, unless a guy is going bald down there or he's wearing briefs and using that little hole up front that I feel safe in saying that no adult male actually uses, you just can't control the random pube falling out when you whip that bad boy out.

Rialby said...

That LMGTFY link is the snarkiest thing you've posted here in a while. I love it.

Drew W said...

When I was little, my parents took the family to the landmark Manhattan establishment P.J. Clarke's and all I can remember was that there were blocks of ice in the urinals, which otherwise did not flush. Also there was sawdust on the floor, something I'd likewise never seen before, at least not in a restaurant.

Pogo said...

The ice is for your drink, should you be running low.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

That LMGTFY link is the snarkiest thing you've posted here in a while. I love it.


Nah. justfuckinggoogleit is snarkier.

YMMV.

Michael said...

Since the iceman no longer cometh to P.J. Clarke's they now use cubes.

I am always comforted by finding ice in the urinals, as though I have made a good choice in the subject establishment.

bagoh20 said...

I thought this was universally known if not obvious, but I'm not well educated.

Scapa14 said...

I once had an employee who came back from the restroom in disgust. I asked him what the problem was and he said that it drives him crazy to see someone stand at the urinal, finish, and just walk away without washing his hands. A day or two later I found myself in that same restroom and while washing my hands observed a quite different behavior. As I returned to my office I stopped at that employee's desk and asked him if he knew what was worse than someone standing at the urinal and not washing their hands after going. He didn't know. I told him someone who just dries his hands!

AllenS said...

Once global warming takes effect, you'll never see another ice cube in the urinals. That's for sure.

t-man/wurly/henry buck said...

I thought the ice was there in case of an emergency "zip-up" accident.

David said...

Straight Dope has it right: "All of the above."

Plus the fun of trying to leave your initials.

former law student said...

"Yeah, but the Marine Corps taught me not to piss on my hands."

What's Pee got to do with it? Urine is sterile unless you have a UTI infection. But, we learn why we (men, anyways) should wash our hands after urination from Cecil Adams:

your boxer-shorts region--from belly button to mid-thigh--is crawling with germs known as coliform bacteria. These bacteria originated in your intestine, and some of them are deadly. Remember punji stakes? They were sharpened sticks that the Vietcong concealed point up along trails and daubed with excrement. If you stepped on one you had a good chance of contracting a fatal infection. Similarly, an otherwise not-so-serious gunshot or knife injury could kill you if it perforated the intestine and allowed coliform bacteria to spread around your abdomen.

But you know this (or at least you ought to). What you may not know is that washing will not make the coliform bacteria go away. They're holed up in the pores of your skin and nothing short of sandblasting--certainly not your morning shower--is going to get them out. Showering merely gets rid of the ones that have strayed onto the surface. The bacteria won't do much harm if they stay put, but when you urinate your fingers come in contact with Mister P. long enough for the coliform bacteria in your pores to hop aboard. Your fingers subsequently touch lots of other infectible items. If you don't wash your hands with soap and water (soap gets rid of the skin oil that the bacteria stick to) . . . hello, Typhoid Mary.


http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1043/why-are-men-supposed-to-wash-their-hands-after-urination

Joe said...

Another simple explanation is that patrons are dumping their drinks.

Brian Hancock said...

Peeing in ice is fun - I make it a habit every winter - can even dot the i in my name.

Some restaurants dump excess ice in urinals, because it's the only place to dump it.

meep said...

only place to dump excess ice?

Come on. Most places using ice have sinks somewhere. [how do the guys wash their hands?] And other receptacles with drains.

Now if the sinks fill up, I can see needing extra repositories.

Brian Hancock said...

If they filled the ice in sinks - then how can you wash your hands - you can't put in in toilets - there's only so many places to dump ice that doesn't get in the way of cooking at some small bars and restaurants.

Sometimes you get extra ice - you also don't want to use the ice for drinks that have been in a display counter for meats and fish.

I've seen this my entire life in Wisconsin - the last time at the Blue Moon a few years ago.

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree with the poster who pointed out that it is a great place to dump unused ice. The other thing though is that it is a bit of fun for the guys. Maybe not as good as targets in the urinals, but still better than nothing. This sort of simple fun may be one reason that males seem to be less likely to want to be female than the opposite.

br549 said...

It keeps the smell down. Duh.

However, what amazes me more is the number of men who do not wash their hands after urinating. Especially in crowded airport bathrooms, which is probably why most hub airports have bathrooms without doors. Most times I actually come down with something is on a trip involving air travel.
I always use the towel I just dried my hands with to open the door upon exit. Bathroom doors in public places should push to open from the inside.

There, all better.

Superdad said...

Ice in the urinal is is common all over the midwest. I am surprised that there are people who don't know that it keeps the smell down.

As for dry/green urinals. They really stink. My middle two kids went to a preschool at an Audubon center. The building was constructed with just about every green gimmick you could dream up, including these stinky urinals.

It would be better to just teach all the little boys to piss outside on a tree.

Original Mike said...

[I] thought the restaurant/bar was just dumping ice there to get rid of the ice while still leaving the sinks in the kitchen usable."

That's what I always thought it was. I have noticed that I seem to encounter this repetitively in some establishments. The urinals in the St. Paul Hotel are always choke full of ice when I'm there.