I’ve grown to like twitter. Where else can your laptop be wakened by a tweet from Lance Armstrong wondering on his last hotel day in Italy what those pull cords in Italian bathrooms do:
what’s up with these cords/strings they always have in Euro bathrooms? Is it bad if I tug on them whenever I pass by?
Lance, if you fall, you pull the cord and….I think something happens…
Ok, so here’s where the story starts falling apart. I have to admit I’ve pulled a few cords in my lifetime, by mistake or with a purpose, and never has a single event taken place which can be attributed to those actions.
So, what’s supposed to happen, I’m told, is that someone in a position high enough to have keys to your room hears some alarm emitted from the ol’ master panel, rushes in, helps you up from where you’ve fallen, and takes the appropriate secondary action of getting medical help. Or as Jessica (@italylogue) says:
Those are emergency cords. Like, “I’ve fallen & I can’t get up” cords.
While Italian law mandates such cords, there seems to be a general consensus among twitterati that there is no law to mandate further action resulting from pulling those cords. I imagine hotel employees quickly come to the conclusion that tourists don’t fall in bathrooms, but rather take inordinate pleasure in pulling any string they find dangling from bathroom walls. So they ignore the constant buzz from their master panel. Or turn it off.
Erica (@Moscerina) adds a lurid tale of her own:
I pulled one by accident at FCO and machine-gun holding carabinieri came into the women’s bathroom to find me.
Sure, the carabinieri don’t have guests to welcome and toilets to clean. Thus they’re free to break down barriers with their manly gun thingies any time they hear the buzzer. And FCO is an airport, so all is forgiven.
All of this had me rushing to my very own bathroom in Tuscany to see what my cords did.
Guess what? They ring the doorbell when you tug them. Honest. And you have to tug them HARD.
But I also discovered that they end about three feet above the floor. If I have trouble in the shower, I’d better not fall flat. Best if I slump against the shower wall while fishing for the cord and hoping for the best.
Then I’ll have to wait while someone in the house runs to answer the door. Another 15 minutes for that “gee, who’s playing tricks on us?” delay. Only then could I expect an angel of mercy to throw open the bathroom door to check on my collapsed form.
After all, it’s not like you can expect the carabinieri come to your rescue every time the doorbell rings.
(I’m @wanderingitaly, if you’re interested in following my scandalous scant scribblings)