Journal Week 28: Peeing on Flies

One of the funny things for me about being in Europe are the fly etchings in men's urinals.

You don't see this much in the United States, but in the UK and Europe a lot men's urinals have flies etched in them. The picture here, one I took, is an example.

(Yes, I snapped pictures of urinals in Europe. The collection of images in my camera roll is pretty odd. Virgin martyrs. Flies in urinals. I have an unusual eye.)

The logic of the fly etching is that it grabs your attention and makes you pee toward or on the fly, thereby reducing the messes made in men's bathrooms by a lack of focus on the business at hand.

So, why is this of interest to me?

Well, as a psychologist, it's just a brilliant bit of design psychology. Bravo!

But the real reason I'm amused and taking pictures of urinals is that, as long time readers know, I once used these fly etchings in urinals as a sermon illustration (about the importance of paying attention).

It was, simultaneously, perhaps the most infamous and memorable sermon illustration ever used from the pulpit of our church. Infamous because I was banned from preaching for a season after that sermon. (Apparently, some people don't enjoy urination illustrations in their sermons.) And memorable because people still remember that sermon and illustration. Over fifteen years later, people from my church take pictures of these urinals when traveling abroad to show me when they get back home.

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