2014-01-09 / Lifestyles

Jest for Fun

Lois A. Corcoran Lois A. Corcoran Everyone’s struck down by illness this time of year. They’re either coming down with something, in the throes of something, or getting over something. Unless you live in an isolated cave, and a disinfected one at that, germs are pretty hard to avoid.

Take restaurants, for instance. How many hands held that menu before you? Sure, you can wash your paws before eating. You can even use paper towel to avoid touching the restroom doorknob on the way out. But then you grab the greasy ketchup dispenser and it’s all for naught.

Remember that commercial where the gal wipes her counter with a chicken carcass? It effectively advertised the use of paper towels. Though I don’t recall the brand, it had the right idea because, according to MythBusters, an innocent kitchen sponge is germier than a toilet seat.

Money ranked a close second for harboring bacteria. I try not to think about that when I buy a snack and receive change originating from heaven knows where before wolfing down my purchase. Chances are, the shopping cart I pushed held its share of cooties as well.

Germs hide in plenty of other spots, too, like light switches and computers shared by the general public. How many people wrote with that chained pen at your local bank? Or that grimy gizmo you sign with at the discount store where you write checks?

How many hotels disinfect their remotes? Do gas stations sanitize their gas pump handles? And how often do bowling alleys clean the finger holes in their balls? My guess is never.

That’s why hand washing is crucial. Experts say the amount of time spent on that should be long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” song three times. The gift we receive, of course, is clean hands.

One can go to extremes though. The other day I washed my hands after cleaning the litter box, then realized I needed to use the powder room. After my performance, I washed up again. Soon, I blew my nose and grudgingly soaped up a third time thinking, enough already! I’d be better off using my elbow to flush and my sleeve to…well, never mind.

On the other hand, they say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Exposure to germs actually strengthens our immune system.

So I’m trying hard to strike a balance. Before something strikes me.

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