An unsavoury interlude

I have stolen the title of this contribution from Rudyard Kipling.  In "Stalky and Co" the three central characters, boys at school in North Devon, are involved in minor rivalry between their house and another.  (In the UK, many elite schools are divided into "houses" and there are rivalries and competitions between them.)  The trio exact revenge by concealing a dead cat between the joists of the rival, which leads to foul smells.
Queues and their management appear in many O.R. studies, and I have blogged about them before.  And an everyday example of a situation where queue management is important is in the provision of public toilets.  As a male, the queueing situation is generally a three-stage process: Queue~1 a WC or urinal; Queue~2 a washbasin; Queue~3 a dryer or towel dispenser.  In a few cases, men use the facilities simply to wash their hands, skipping queue 1.  More often the second and third queues are skipped.  The second and third queues are often amalgamated by a wall-mounted machine which dispenses soap, water and hot air in sequence.
For hygienic management, one would expect the provision for queues 2 and 3 to be such as to eliminate waiting, so that not washing becomes a deliberate choice, rather than a reaction to the existence of a queue.  Given the time that males spend in queue 1, the number of "servers" for the last two should be about a third to a half of the number of "servers" for queue 1. 
However, yesterday we found that the provision in a seaside set of toilets in Bournemouth was amazingly inadequate.  Space for 16 urinals, 5 closets and 2 wall machines.  Hence my use of the word "unsavoury".


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