Thursday, December 01, 2011

Let’s Get A Handle On Hygiene

You know when news reports appear about food shortages or product shortages?

Well, I haven’t yet seen an occasion yet when there’s been a soap shortage. Or a shortage of wash basins. Or even, Goddammit, a shortage or paper towels. The food industry could go belly up tomorrow but we’d still be able to wash our hands.

So why is it that some of us don’t?

Why is it that some of us are just happy to smear our less attractive microbes over every communal surface possible in order to spread a little “germ love” to those we love and even those we don’t?

This is an age old complaint. I know it is. One day a fossilized stone slab will be found or possibly even a Mesolithic cave drawing that features some hang-dog caveman going about his toilet, not wiping his hands on a mammoth fur flannel and then being thrown out of the tribe for fingering the sabre tooth tiger steaks and scratching his back side with a flinthead axe.

And here we are in the 21st century and that hang-dog caveman is still around. The mammoth steaks and the flinthead axes might have disappeared but the not washing after using the toilet remains.

Countless times I have found myself ideologically trapped within a toilet facility. I have gone about my business. I have washed and dried and I’m ready to go. But a patron is ahead of me. A patron who has relieved himself of some intimate burden and then – for sheer want of any kind of civilizing influence – has vacated the premises without introducing his hands to soap and water.

Instead he has greased himself all over the door handle.

Which leaves me with a dilemma.

Do I try and grip the door handle at the point where I think he will have been least likely to touch it? This means trying to operate it only from its merest extremities – difficult when the door is heavy. Or do I wrap the handle in a paper towel and open it by way of a sheathing device? Or, even more dramatic, do I prop the door open with my foot and contort myself to the point of popping a hernia to reach the sink to wash my hands a second time and then barge my way out through the ajar door to gain my freedom and retain my germ free existence?

I don’t need this kind of conundrum when I want to use the bathroom! If I want more challenges in my life I’ll take up Sudoku.

Please, please, please, is it too much to ask that we all wash and go... after we’ve gone?



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19 comments:

Kelloggsville said...

I usually try to open it with my little finger from the very top of the handle but it still leaves me feeling slightly violated.

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: I do that too but I'm always worried someone will slam the door open from the other side and I'll end up with a broken digit or two.

the fly in the web said...

It used to bother me in France....home of the upset stomach after eating in restaurants or caffs...but no longer.
People here are almost obsessive about hand washing and a lot of the caffs have a washbasin in a corner for clients to wash their hands before eating.
It probably sounds completely over the top but in France I carried a plastic bag for use in opening loo doors.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Don't worry about piss, it's sterile. Sarah Miles drinks her own piss and look at her. As for shit, nothing will ever beat the douche. When you've had the douche there's no going back.

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

Invest in some disposable rubber gloves. Put them on while you're standing at the hand basin and watch people scarper.

Katriina said...

Gotta say that ladies seem to be better than men at the washing-hands-after-the-loo bit. I rarely find myself recoiling in horror at a blatant handwash failure incident, because it just doesn't seem to happen! On the contrary, in my experience women not only wash their hands, but frequently then continue to occupy valuable mirrored-washbasin space for an outrageous length of time as they fidget with lipsticks, mascara wands, visible panty lines, and you don't need to know what else. In Japan, most women even finish up the whole ritual by splashing water courteously over the tap (having turned it on with germ-infested hands!) As a result, I haven't felt it necessary to perfect my door-handling skills.

I never actually realised until now that men don't similarly run for the soap and water once they've done their deed. I mean, yikes. Especially given that (as far as I understand it, anyway) for boys the whole ritual is fairly, ahem, "hands-on"!

Wylye Girl said...

God, this was such a problem when I lived in France. Hardly anyone seemed to wash their hands although, bearing in mind the state of some of their toilets you'd probably end up dirtier even if you did. But it was quite vomit-inducing to see people leave the loo without washing then fondle the fresh fruit and veg. I carry around anti-bac hand gel. If someone doesn't wipe and wash then I'll clean the door handle with it on my way out

Steve said...

The fly in the web: not over the top at all. I'm considering buying a bio-hazard suit from eBay.

Gorilla Bananas: I'm sure there's plenty of folks who'll say I'm a big enough douche as it is.

Trish: I like that idea. Especially if I can pull the gloves up my arm as far as they'll go and then release them with a loud snap.

Katriina: it is very hands on! Just the thought of all those men running around touching things, each other, other people... it's possible to get a little OCD about it if you're not too careful.

Wylye Girl: if I give you a list of times can you go ahead of me into the toilet?

Marginalia said...

Reminds me of three old ladies locked in a lavatory. Just use some (unused) loo paper to open the door with.

Alternatively, sprey some disclosing fluid over taps, loo seats, door handles and wash towels etc. Then write in bright red lipstick on the mirror or wall in big capitals, "This is the shit you leave if you don't wash your hands you shites! xxx Your cleaning lady". That should get things moving.

libby said...

This is written really funnily Steve as usual, but this very thing makes me really uneasy (yet another little OCD habit of mine I am sorry to say..)and just like the others I carry a gel or use a paper towel to touch handles and doors etc., and hate eating out because I have seen too many dirty kitchens/chefs!

Steve said...

Marginalia: all I have to do now is learn to counterfeit our cleaning lady's cursive script and buy some lipstick.

Libby: no, I'm the same really - a little OCD. To be honest, it pays not to think too much about it all else you'd never leave the house!

Louie Longbottom said...

When I was a pube I suddenly developed a fear of germs and was washing my hands a lot. I thought I was going mad and didn't want to tell anyone. Luckily the condition passed quickly (a couple of weeks, months? Felt like forever). Not least due to the fact that I was lucky enough to find a dirty, well-thumbed, germ covered (what was I thinking!) book about psychological ails, Howard Hughes etc. So that cleared itself up. But boy it had me worried at the time, I mean I had been as happy as a pig to roll around in mud and puddles and suddenly I was holding my breath when I saw a dog turd etc.
Scary shit, huh?

Steve said...

Louie: sorry, it's taken me all this while to realize you meant "pube" as an abbreviation of "pubescent". I had a mental image of being addressed by a curly hair.

EmmaK said...

You probably need to go india then you'll feel much more relaxed. Toilets there are shit encrusted holes in ground and you don't really think where has this hose been which i'm meant to wash my crack with.... you just grab onto it for dear life!!!

Steve said...

Emma: I wish I'd read that after I'd had my tea.

Marginalia said...

Steve, old buddy you've mined a rich vein this time, or plunged to even greater depths.

Shall I book you and your family a holiday in Mumbai?

Steve said...

Marginalia: yeah, I'm up for it. I love a good curry, me. Better shit in Mumbai than shit here. Mumbai shit will be glamorous in comparison.

The Sagittarian said...

OK as I appear to be the only member of the Time Wasters and Slackers Club available for comment - why don't you just wait there until someone else comes in and you can fly out the open door thusly! You're welcome.

Steve said...

Amanda: you plainly don't have inane, banal, anal, jobsworths with a penchant for carrying stopwatches at your place of employment...