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Thinking in Reverse: What ELSE Can We Do with This Thing?

There I was, drying my hands in the men’s room of the legendary La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, N.M., when it hit me: The Buddha and Dyson, the “cyclone technology” vacuum cleaner company, are two peas in a cosmic pod.


I was not drying my hands using a cotton or paper towel. Nor was I violently rubbing my wet hands together under a harsh blast of concentrated air coming through some disgustingly dirty exposed vent — the typical experience with a wall-mounted hand dryer.


oldfashioned hand dryer1



Instead, I was standing with each of my hands pleasantly dangling inside its own oval opening toward the top of a gun-metal-aluminum, smoothly contoured, wall-mounted hand dryer that, upon sensing my hands inside of it, had begun enveloping them in a whirring blanket of soft, warm air. In no time at all, the machine stopped. I extracted my hands — dry, warm and unchafed. They had never touched any part of the hand dryer, and I never had to rub them together.

That was my introduction to the Dyson Airblade hand dryer.

This company, which has made its mark designing savvy products that suck air in, had devised a kinder, gentler way of blowing air out.

I would love to have been in the room with the Dyson marketing team and engineers when they were wondering what else in the hell they could do with their technology. They’d already milked the cyclone technology and the nifty ball-mounted steering technology for all they’re worth.

Then one person thought to look at the problem like the Buddha might have. The Buddha is supposed to have said, “Conquer anger by non-anger. Conquer evil by good. Conquer miserliness by liberality. Conquer a liar by truthfulness.” (Check out the Dhammapada.)

One person in the room asked aloud, “What if we didn’t suck?”

Realizing that her intention had been lost in her unfortunate choice of words, this reflective soul reframed her thought: “What I mean is, what if, instead of sucking, we blow.”

The Buddha would have understood. So, apparently, did James Dyson, the company’s founder. According to the company’s website, the Dyson Airblade is in use not only in the 82-year-old La Fonda, but in the washrooms of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles International Airport, Irving (Texas) Independent School District, Carl’s Jr. restaurants and Cattlemen’s Steakhouse.

We can all learn to do the same — look at a problem from the opposite side. Look at what something isn’t doing in the midst of all that it is doing. Go to the dark side once in a while to see where the light comes from.

When you’re all wrapped around the axle and frustrated from all of your sucking … blow.