Some blather on the good...the bad...and the foo king ugg lee...FWIW.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Do not touch that door handle! Jerry was right.

I recently read some statistics from a survey about handwashing in this country. I believe the survey was taken by the Soap and Detergent Association in 2005. I know that sounds like I made up that association for comic relief, but I didn’t. It sounds like a private group, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a government-funded deal. Why not, huh?

The story lead read something like this, “Americans are washing their hands less”. According to the survey, generally speaking, Americans wash their hands after using the restroom 83% of the time...down a few percentage points from the last survey I assume. Before I move on in the survey, let me say this first: What a crock of shit!

Since the stats in this article were gleened from a voluntary survey, possibly from some cross-section of the American public, does it make them accurate? Hardly.

Over the years, I have done my own survey of sorts in men’s restrooms. And I can tell you confidently that men do not wash their hands after using the restroom more than 50% of the time...or less!

First of all, my observations only include the men that finished their “business” while someone else was in the restroom, right? This fact alone even scues this percentage model even further into the Twilight Zone of survey inaccuracy. Even in a annoymous survey with personal questions like this...people friggin’ lie through their teeth! That’s akin to cheating at solataire, isn’t it? Only you are aware of the cheating...or the lying.

The reason for this blogular diatribe stems from my recent obsession with keeping my hands somewhat germ free...not necessarily clean, but free of strange, alien, foreign, disease and sickness-causing germs. I’m not obsessed with it, but I am now (and have been for the few years) concerned, shall we say?

Getting back to men’s restrooms. Here is a typical scenario. A male walks into a public restroom to “take a leak”. After having touched the door handle on his way in, he sidles up to the selected urinal. If the room is somewhat busy (and there are no dividers between the fixtures), he taxis in really close so the pervert next to him can’t see his weiner while he is peeing. The male now unzips his fly and places his hand on said weiner...removes it, and begins the voiding process into the urinal. Shortly thereafter, he shakes it the appropriate amount of times...this is certainly a personal preferrence area better left alone at this point. I’ll just say this. What male child was not told by his father the quaint little saying, “Remember...if you shake it more than three times, you’re jerking off!” I guess appearing to jack off at a public urinal is not better than walking out with a huge urine stain on the leg of your tan Dockers.

Moving on. When said male has finished peeing and shaking, the unit is placed back into the shorts...pants are zipped back up...and now he is done...and headed for the door! Again, this is the case more than 50% of the time...closer to 80% of time if he is alone in the restroom.

I refer now to the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is in the restaurant restroom with Poppi, the father of one of his girlfriends...and the owner of the restaurant. Not only does Poppi make no attempt to wash his hands after going to the bathroom, he informs Jerry that he is now headed straight to the kitchen to make Jerry a special pizza by hand just for him. Of course, Jerry freaks out...won’t eat the pizza...breaks up with the girl, etc, etc. This scene is not far from the norm...believe me.

Not...cut back to the public restroom where I am observing the guy leaving without washing his hands. The guy walks to the door, grasps the handle, opens the door, and leaves. Now...you tell me. The next person (or series of people) who touch that door handle may as well be touching the guy’s penis! I ask you...is that something you would want to do? He just had his weiner in his hand. Not only that...after various amounts of shaking, he probably has urine on his hands! So, me touching that door handle with bare hands? Not gonna happen! Ever again. I use a paper towel or my shirt tail...or my foot. In fact, I haven't flushed a public toilet or urinal with my hands for a number years. A clothed elbow on the urinal handle works well...a well-placed shoe sole on the commode handle does the trick.

And believe me when I say this...in most cases, the guys who don’t wash their hands are disgusting looking individuals to boot. They’re not wearing Armani suits, nicely pressed pants, and are well-groomed. They’re pigs! They’re smelly old men, and dirty-looking individuals and non-bathers. They’re public nose-pickers, butt and crotch scratchers, and ear diggers. This really isn't an accurate statement, but one must assume this. Guys in Armani suits don't wash their hands either.

After spending many years in the restaurant business, seven of which with a large buffet firm, I realized the extent of filth I was being exposed to. I was certified by the NSF and California Restaurant Association in several sanitation courses, not to mention each individual restaurant’s requirements for management. There are nasty, nasty germs out there...and the majority of which don’t come from the food itself. They come from people...the workers and the customers. I can’t tell you how many times a customer would come up to me at the buffet restaurant and inform me about another customer not washing their hands in the restroom...then, picked up a spoon or tongs at the buffet line...or worse, fondled several dinner rolls with his bare hands. “What are you going to do about that?!”, they would complain.

There are laws and regulations requiring employees to wash their hands after visiting the restroom, eating, smoking, sneezing, or even touching their face. All we could do was educate them and then follow up when we caught them not doing it. That’s all. But what about the public at large?

So with that in mind, one must themselves be aware of what is out there. Not only on restroom handles, but on any public door handle, or chair arm, or supermarket basket. Yes! The supermarket basket...what a festering, filthy, breeding ground for germs. And that is why Loretta and I always carry that little bottle of sanitizer gel...wherever we go. It’s not an obsession...it’s simply common sense these days.

Many restaurants now require food-handling employees to wear disposable, latex gloves at all times. That’s well and good. But when these employees don’t change the gloves often, especially after taking out the trash or touching something not sanitary...what good is that? The latex gloves thing is not affective. Washing your hands often, and properly, is.

What is proper handwashing? We were always taught by the NSF that this required hot water, an anti-bacterial soap, and washing for at least 30 seconds. The old rule of thumb was to wash your hand the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday.

Back to the survey. People washing their hands 83% of the time after using the restroom...hardly. Washing for 30 seconds...very unlikely. Washing their hands more than 10 times per day (43% said they did)...what fantasy world did these numbers come from?

It’s not that the general public is comprised of dirty, unsanitary people...it’s just the nature of the world. It is full of germs. Remember the story in War of the Worlds? It was germs that saved the world. We need germs. They serve a very useful purpose, not only protecting us against alien invasions, but against other germs.

But, germs can be deadly. Recent e-Coli contamination in spinach for one. At the very least, they can make you sick and uncomfortable. And chances are, they came from another person...not from the food itself. And the number one transmitter of those germs is hands...yours and theirs.

Seinfeld’s Poppi epsidode was funny...but true to life. Howard Hughes? Now he was a bit obsessed.


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