Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My germophobic rant

Last week, I confessed to being a germophobe. However, I don’t think you need to be a germophobe to think that certain things are disgusting.

Such as not washing one’s hands after going to the bathroom.

I should warn you in advance that this is a full-on rant about this gross behavior... and these are not the words of a completely sane person.

I continue to be amazed by how many people simply walk out of a public restroom without washing their hands. If they’re doing this in a public restroom where the germs are exponential in number and other people can take notice, I can only imagine that they don’t wash up after doing their business at home either. If someone left the restroom in my presence without scrubbing up, I took note and I remember who they are. I have a mental list.

I don’t keep this list on purpose. I honestly wish I could forget because ignorance really is bliss. But I cannot. I know, and I cringe.

I tell people how much this grosses me out, and I hear all kinds of excuses:

But I don’t touch anything that’s gross.

Yes, you do! The stall latch has germs. The restroom door handle has germs. The flush handle has germs. Your nether region has germs. And now those germs are spread all over the place. Thanks.

But I didn’t go number-two.

This is not about actually touching poo (although God help me if I ever accidentally touch poo in a public restroom. Ugh... *shudder*). You touch gross things that are covered in poo germs. See above.

But I don’t pee on my hands.

Good for you, but I don’t care. Most adults can manage to use the restroom without getting urine on themselves. You still touch gross things. Male friends have often given me this excuse, and here is my response. Did you have to touch your weiner in order to pee? I’m pretty sure it does not pop out of your pants and go back in all by itself. You seriously think it’s okay to touch your nasty, sweaty, germy weiner and then touch the coffee pot in the break room? Shame on you. And unless you can hike up your foot really high, I’m also pretty sure you flush the urinal with your hand. Please tell me you me you flush the urinal.

I don’t use soap, but I still wash my hands.

Ah, nice try. These people are what I like to call “token rinsers.” Water alone does not remove the germs. You’re just moving them around your hands and making them easier to spread.

Since gross, non-hand-washing people exist and will touch things that I have to touch, I take some irrational, dysfunctional, extreme measures. For example, I avoid certain situations/objects whenever possible, such as:
Library books
Shaking hands
Borrowing/lending pens
The coffee pot in the break room
This list could get really long…

I know these things cannot always be avoided, so I keep sanitizer with me. I have been known to discreetly wipe down my pen after someone uses it. I have even thrown pens away if I didn’t have access to sanitizer. (I even wipe down my credit card after using it at the gas pump. I’m such a FREAK!)

I used to be worried about offending people, but now I have no problem asking people to wash their hands or use sanitizer before they hold my son. I make sure to ask everyone to do this so that I’m not specifically calling out certain people. I keep the baby close to me – in my arms or wearing him in a carrier – when we are at an event where people will want to touch him a lot. I find that if he’s in his stroller, or if someone else is holding him, people will touch him more often.

I’m never intentionally rude about it. No one can tell that there’s an inner monologue running through my head, in which I am carefully calculating my options for avoiding the germs.

I know there is no way to keep myself or my baby completely germ-free. So since there is so much nastiness out there that I cannot avoid, on the rare occasion it is within my power to protect us from getting sick, I do what I can.

Can you tell I’m a first-time mom? Pretty obvious, huh?