Recently, my friend, Erin, and I took our little ones on a stroll through the mall. We happened upon the play area where dozens of happy children were laughing and crawling and climbing all over. The parents sat nearby chatting with each other and shouting things like “Yes, I see you, good job!” and “Stop hitting your sister!” Kids got some fun playtime. Mommy and Daddy got a break. Everyone was happy.
Except Erin and me.
Horrified, we could only think of the nasty germs that were being passed around that play area. We dreaded the day our kids would be old enough to want to join in the fun. (Her daughter’s two, so that day is right around the corner for her.) That day is eminent. At some point, we will have to let our children… (gulp)… play in the germs.
After my germophobic rant, my father-in-law (who thinks he’s quite funny) sent me this article from WebMD Health News entitled “Germs: They’re Everywhere.” (I responded by asking him why he tortures me.) Basically, the article says that people have a “false sense of security when it comes to germs,” and that many things we touch on a regular basis have more germs than a toilet seat.
I would love to have that false sense of security, but I do not. I’m well aware of the grossness that surrounds me, which is why I make myself (and probably my husband) crazy. Now some people might read that article and say, “See there’s nothing you can do to avoid germs, so why bother trying” and so they will continue to NOT wash their hands after going to the bathroom, spread their nastiness everywhere, and think they are the smart ones.
That defeatist mentality is no excuse for grossness. As my bloggy friend, Cynthia, says, it’s basic hygiene to wash your hands. It’s also common decency. We’re talking to you, gross people. Wash your damn hands.
The article talks about all the germs on playground equipment, ATMs, elevators, etc. I might as well come completely clean (pun intended) and tell you all the drastic measures I take to avoid such surfaces. If you thought I was crazy before….
I rarely go to the ATM. If I do, I always sanitize my hands afterward. And my ATM card. Yes, I actually wipe my ATM card with sanitizer.
I touch elevator buttons with my elbow or my sleeve pulled over my hand. If neither option is available, I sanitize after touching the buttons.
I love doors that push open so I can use my elbow or foot. If I have to turn a knob or pull a handle with my hand, I sanitize after touching it.
When taking Quinn for a stroll around town, I push the “walk” buttons at the intersections with my elbow. Or sometimes my foot.
When I have to throw something into a trash can that has a swinging door, I try to shove the door open with the trash, quickly drop the trash in, and pull my hand away before the door swings shut. People watching me probably think the trash can is on fire or that there is a swarm of bees living in it. If I do have to push the door open with my hand, I sanitize afterward.
I do not go to the library. I think libraries are wonderful places for many people, and I am thrilled that my tax dollars go to support them. But if I had my way, I would never go into one. Those books have been touched by zillions of people, including some who may prefer to do their reading while sitting on the toilet. (Plus, my friend, Laura, is a librarian, and she has told me some stories that a germophobe should never hear.) If I did have to touch a library book, I would sanitize afterward.
In public restrooms, I turn off the water and open the door with a paper towel. I hate it when they only have automatic dryers! If I have to touch the faucet, door handle or anything in the restroom after I’ve washed my hands, I sanitize.
I sanitize/wash after grocery shopping, pumping gas, handling money, going to the gym, taking out the garbage… after doing pretty much anything, and I always wash before touching Quinn.
Now that I think about it, the grossest thing on the planet is probably the outside of my sanitizer bottle. I’m going to go clean that.
Related Posts (all of which are dedicated to Whitney, my friend in life and germophobia, who does not read this blog.)