Half of the secret of resistance to disease is cleanliness; the other half is dirtiness.
People are always washing their hands of this or that. I don’t care what they wash their hands of –- I just want them to wash their hand WITH SOAP. I admit it; I am a germ-a-phobe. I won’t touch handrails on escalators and stairs. I use a paper towel when possible to pick up the nozzle of the gasoline pump. I didn’t like using Los Angeles’ subway system because it seemed to me it was an underground Petri dish of seasonal viruses (I also didn’t appreciate the overzealous traffic cops on my way to the transit system).
In the third grade, our teacher would single kids out for not covering their mouths when they yawned, coughed, or sneezed. I will usually say something to the person who coughs or sneezes and does not cover their face, but there are too many yawners to make an issue of that. Certainly their dentists may appreciate the clear view of their teeth and dental work, but I don’t.
During these informative years, most kids were supposed to be taught to wash their hands with soap. However, I am sure parents didn’t set a good example. It only takes a few seconds, so I am always appalled at the people who brazenly leave the restroom without washing their hands. It does not matter their status in the corporate world nor their financial standing; I have seen all stripes exit the lavatory sans washing and thus leaving the bacteria firmly ensconced within the grooves of their fingerprints. Then they go about their business of tapping on keyboards, opening doors and shaking hands. I wish we just bowed like the Japanese.
The other day, I warned a friend about someone who does not wash his hands nor uses soap if he does wash, no matter the bathroom function. My friend was introduced to him for the first time as this notorious non-washer walked out of the restroom. When the coast was clear my friend immediately ran back to wash again.
Through observation and conversation, I have concluded that there are four types of bathroom hand washers:
Non-Washers. Through my observations, this is the largest group. These people will simply relieve their intestines small or large and not wash their hands. In an office environment they will run water over their hands if they have to, but mostly they just dash out. In a public restroom they will just leave and not care if you spy them skipping out because most likely you will never see them again, unless you end up next to them on the plane.
Pre-Washers. This group belongs to the “nothing I do is foul” self-centered species. Their genital area is clean to them, therefore they must wash their hands because of everything they have touched prior. They don’t want another’s germs on their package.
Double-Washers. This is a rare tribe in my book. A DW is someone that encompasses the pre-washer mentality as well as being a bit of a germ-a- phobe. If they are willing to wash, I salute them.
Routine Washers. They wash their hands after using the facilities, but it seems for naught because they open the door with their bare hands after Non-Washer used the same door handle to exit. I turn on the faucet to wash my hands, upon completion, I grab three paper towels, two for drying and one to turn the water facet off. I use the same two towels to open the bathroom door, and then I fold it over again to open the hallway door and then toss it into a nearby trashcan.
Many acquaintances and friends think I have gone overboard. To me, an extreme is an old supervisor who used baby wipes on her dog’s paws after letting her dog out back. I just don’t allow our dog in the house.
Think about this the next time you skip soap. According to studies done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Only about two thirds of American adults wash after using the toilet - women significantly more often than men. Fecal matter carries a variety of serious infectious diseases.
- One of four adults does not wash after changing a baby's diaper - creating a high risk of giving the caregiver and other children infectious diarrhea and other diseases.
- Fewer than half of us wash after handling our pets or cleaning up after them.
- Just one in three wash after sneezing or coughing.
- Not even one in five wash after handling money, a major carrier of disease germs.
- In one study, children who washed their hands four times a day missed 51 percent fewer school days due to upset stomach and 24 percent fewer days due to respiratory illness than those who washed less.
- One in three E.coli outbreaks is caused by poor personal hygiene (hand washing) by food handlers.