This week in our ongoing series, Jenny gives me the shortest writing assignment I’ve had in a while.

Jenny: Can you make up a word or phrase that you feel ought to exist, and define it?

Chris: Sure can. And this is the push I’ve long needed to give a name to a phenomenon I’ve observed for years.

My word is “alavautomento.” It means the stretch of time that passes in a public restroom between the moment when you place your hands under a faucet or soap dispenser or paper towel dispenser or hot air dryer and the moment when you realize that this particular device is not automated. As in, “Sorry it took me so long in there. Had me a little alavautomento when I tried to dry my hands.”