Sunday, February 22, 2009

Okay, I AM the Handwashing Nazi. What of it?

Posted in Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , at 7:45 pm by Elaine Petrowski

The most basic form of disease prevention. So why do so many skip it?

The most basic form of disease prevention. So why do so many skip it?

As long as we’re on the subject of germ phobias and hygiene, what about handwashing? What’s with the totally D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G  one- out-of- three (!) grown MEN and WOMEN who do NOT wash their hands after using the restroom? Where did they grow up?

They are the reason I haven’t had an Altoid since 1999.

That year I had a charming colleague who liked to rib me about my ritual of ditching into the office ladies room to wash my hands before and after eating lunch. When I confessed a certain level of “phobia” for clean hands, he spontaneously volunteered  to share with me which of the men on staff did NOT make use of the sink and soap in the men’s room. When I protested that was “too much information” he grinned, winked at me and whispered, “Just don’t take any of those peppermints they pass around at the staff meetings.”

I’m ruthless when it comes to this topic. I once reported a waitress to the manager at a famous seafood restaurant at the Jersey Shore who came into the restroom, did her business, and then left, without even faking it and running the water. (She didn’t know I was there. But I saw her uniform swish out the restroom door.)

Just about a year ago now I allowed a promising, just budding friendship with someone I really liked… a lot… to whither away because she skipped this basic sanitary step the first time we went to lunch together. All I could think of was the cup of coffee she’d made for me at her house a week before.

Any two-year-old kid can learn this. Doctors and nurses live by this (please gawd?) There is a sign in every restroom warning the employees to do it.  Montessori teachers teach it. So do kindergarten teachers.

So, what’s with the 1 in 3 ADULTS who does not wash his/her hands? Didn’t their MOTHERS TELL THEM UMP-TEEN TIMES, TO WASH THEIR HANDS after using the toilet? WHAT are they thinking? That they are still defying MOM?

Have you ever “called out” anyone over the age of six, who “forgot” to wash his/her hands?

Is there (does there need to be???)  a polite way to request this small act of self-care from the humans you live and work with?

And if  YOU don’t wash your hands after using the facilities, can you please explain WHY?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is This How the Plague Spread?

Posted in Life, Pursuit of Happiness tagged , , , , , at 4:32 pm by Elaine Petrowski

Wondering if I’m the only one who is totally skeeved out by those credit card check- out swipe machine gizmos I’m starting to see all over?  You know the ones I mean … where you swipe your credit card and then use the attached stump of a plastic pen to sign, or rather, scratch, what’s supposed to be your signature, on the little screen?

I blame my newly acquired germ-phobia on a truly hideous upper respiratory “thing”  I’ve been best buddies with since mid-January. Other than a flight to and from Mexico, where I am POSITIVE all the flight attendants and all the other passengers were wishing I would succumb, right then and there,  just so I wouldn’t be coughing on them anymore, I’ve not ventured out much.

I’ve become somewhat of a recluse and avoided movies, social events, church services, board meetings and canceled dinner dates with friends because I  think of myself as a social pariah, mostly because my cough  sounds like a  seal with a pack- a- day Luckies habit. And the fact that it’s hard to stuff my latest must-have accessory –a full box of tissues –into even an oversized handbag.

Now, I know I can’t be sure how I picked up this bug. But today when I ventured out for –what else but more tissues and some vitamins?–  an  alarm sounded in my head when the clerk asked me to use the credit-card- swipe-thingy-with-convenient built- in-plastic-pen-stub. I froze mid- motion at the realization that everyone else who charged their purchases there today… even the ones who NEVER, EVER wash their hands… used that very same pen.

The easy solution would be to give up using my credit card and resort to cash, but that’s going to seriously undermine my “mileage slut” status. ( And future trips to Mexico.)

Tip: Fellow germ phobics (Have  I just created a few?) the exceedingly polite clerk told me that, next time, if I asked to avoid using the germ-matrix-credit-card- machine before he rang up the sale, that could be arranged. (So I can’t be the only one who’s asked, right?)

Now if I could just figure out how to avoid touching the door knob on my way out.

Be well.

And please do share your own germ phobias and/or your tips for staying healthy all winter!