A Game of Germ Warfare?


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(It has taken three weeks to put this post together.  It began just after Christmas. Enjoy!)

I’ve been dining out a little more often over this holiday season.  I am beginning to settle back into my routine now that Christmas has passed.  Still, I will be enjoying a few more social engagements over the next few days to celebrate and welcome the New Year and pay homage to the year that is coming to a close.

On Boxing Day, for example I had spent a great deal of time on the road and finished the day by purchasing a T.V.

I had dropped off my purchase and headed back out to grab a nibble before heading home to tackle the task of assembling said item.

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I like to multitask.  I dropped off the T.V., picked up the laptop.  Ate with one hand while the other tapped out some brilliant piece of prose on the computer.

Am I not humble?

Thinking back it may have been more prudent to take a certain manual with instructions to review while dining, however, I didn’t do that.  And yes, hindsight is a bitch at times.

But I digress.

The T.V. is working just fine.  I am still working on putting the ‘smart’ aspect of it in as I’m having issues regarding the signal.  I’ve got the majority of it figured out at this point.

Having finished up my meal it was off to use the facilities and freshen up.

It occurred to me once I’d done my business that very seldom do I have to use my hands to flush toilets located in public establishments.  They often have a sensor that will be activated or have foot flushers.

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Leaving the stall I washed my hands.  I often find the dispenser is activated by a sensor and the water to wash with turns on via the same manner.  Sometimes there can be a challenge trying find the sensor on some of the sinks and I stand there waving my soapy hands wildly about trying to activate the stream of water.

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Not sure how it is that the sensor can become defunct…but it can.  After waving my hands wildly trying to get the damn thing to work…and I’ve likely fondled it aggressively several times at this point (which is what I shouldn’t be doing if I’m trying to avoid those damn germs!), then I move to another sink.

There are some pesky taps that spurt out a minute amount of water and the hand waving must continue until all the soap has been rinsed from the skin.

Of course to dry your hands either a sensor is activated by waving your hand and paper will be dispensed or you slip your hands into an air dryer that has the power to change the formation of your hand!

I seldom touch very many things though while in public restrooms.  Get in and get out…fast!  That’s my motto.

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Then I got to thinking of all the ads out there to kill all the germs that invade our daily life and I just had to wonder if perhaps we are becoming a little manic about the whole clean thing?

I’m a clean person.  I’m not obsessive about it.  Not by any means.  I can wash my kitchen and it will appear dirty by days end.  I’ve got a ceramic floor and I’ve found they are annoyingly bad for showing footprints and dirt of any kind.  Am I going to wash my floor every freakin’ day?  I think not!

I give the place a good scrubbing once a week and perform the normal day to day stuff like dishes, maintaining my bathroom and making the bed on a regular basis.

I’ve been in homes that made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.  Everything spotlessly and perfectly in place . Not a speck of dirt ANYWHERE!

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Suddenly I would feel so nervous.  Did I have any dirt on my socks,  as I was requested to remove my footwear?  Staring at my socks I note that my big toe is trying desperately for a jail break.

Peering around me I want out too.

My hostess was another parent from my daughter’s elementary school.  We were not friends or anything like that.  It was just a brief get together to ensure that her daughters’ could join mine for dinner and movie on the following Friday evening in downtown Vancouver to celebrate my child’s 14th birthday.  (This was many, many, many years ago!).

Unsmiling she pointed to the sofa and I sat.  The plastic covering the fabric made an unpleasant crackling noise.  The interrogation began.

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“Where you go?  What movie you go see?  What other grown-up be with you?”  (She had a strong Italian accent)

My response, as my sweat glands opened and I tried to will the perspiration from slipping onto the plastic coverings, was as follows.

“Planet Hollywood.  Jim Carrey’s ‘Liar Liar’ and as far as I know, I’m the only adult that will be in attendance.”

A flat stare ran up and down my person.  My toe now decided to try and crawl back inside the sock and hide.  I wanted to join it.

“Who else go!” she spit out.

“You mean girls?” I offered dryly.

“Yes!”

“Betina, maybe Cicely…not too sure and of course your two little ladies, Gloria and….”

It was in that moment that I forgot the other twin’s name.  It was the stress, dammit.

Yes, the girls were able to go.

Later, my friend Cathy would tell me of just what a poor impression I made on the woman.  In fact she found me very ‘weird’ among other things.

And I’m cool with that. I’ve never really understood having furniture covered in plastic.  Somehow that seems a little too freaky and obsessive for me.

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Back to the germs now.

We live in a world filled with bacteria and germs and all sorts of stuff we can’t see.  Some of it good, some of it bad.  It’s  all part of our ecosystem stuff.

Somehow we’ve gotten into this mindset where we really seem to fear these things we call germs.  We sterilize our children’s rooms, our homes, our bodies.  And yet we just don’t seem to understand why we are still susceptible and still get sick.

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News flash.

You need to allow your body to build up an immunity to the germs and bacteria that we share this planet with. It’s an organic thing really.  If you’ve every made and eaten mud pies you’ll know that they were a lot more fun to make than consume.  And guess what, you’re still alive and kicking to tell the tale.

Letting your child roll about in the backyard or at the park is not a bad thing.  Not at all.

Running through mud puddles and jumping into a pile of leaves that have fallen…fun, fun, fun!

When I grew up using public facilities could be down right frightening.  Public washrooms were used as a last resort.  And I can assure you, they were scary!

Often they were only cleaned maybe once a week though at time it appeared a monthly thing.

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The moment you entered the facility your senses were assaulted first by the smell and then you took in the visual of how it looked.

This was a place that you did not want to come into contact with any part of your person.

In fact, it made you feel dirty just being in there.  Toilet paper would be draped over the seat and then you’d hover over the damn thing in order to relieve yourself.

Soap containers were often crusted over if they had anything in them at all. It was seldom that paper towel could be found to wipe the gunge from your fingers that now covered your hands as you tried desperately to get something the resembled soap out of the dispenser.

Rolling about in the grass or freshening up in a mud puddle was at times preferable.

I understand the mindset that has evolved with public facilities, still I’ve not walked into a bathroom like that in well over 30 years.

These days such places are cleaned at least daily, if not more.

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Now I watch these commercials that seemingly have a certain paranoia attached.  A young boy in bare feet refusing to walk across his living room carpet because it ‘feels’ dirty.  The damn thing is pristine in appearance but no, our young man will jump from various pieces of furniture to avoid his feet touching the carpet.

My first thought was ‘dude, put your slippers or socks on’.  My second thought was this is just stupid.

And what’s the deal with bears and Charmin?

Commercials still depict women dressed impeccably washing their floors with a Swiffer.  A smile of pure pleasure grace their faces.  They never break a sweat, and their houses never really appear dirty at all.

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Sinks gleam under the ‘Mr. Cleans Magic Eraser’ and all those terrible food spills have been eliminated by Lysol.

Rust build up?  CLR it.  Calcium build up. CLR it.

I see people walk about during cold and flu season with surgical masks on. And these influenzas just seem to get worse and that much more powerful and devastating.

It is impossible to ‘kill’ every germ on this planet.  Nor should we want to.

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Over the last few years we’ve heard of these ‘superbugs’ that have invaded hospitals for example.  Why do think that is?

Bacteria and germs want to survive as well.  And they will.  For everything we throw at them…they restructure their ‘immune’ system and become that much stronger.  Meanwhile our children are becoming sicklier as we scrub and clean trying to protect them from an organic planet.

I’ve seen the ads ‘Not all bugs need drugs.  Wash your hands.’

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It’s a simple and effective method to be sure.  I’ve met people, however, that insisted they soap up for 30 seconds and rinse for just as long.  And not just their hands but up to the elbow.  And after my 10 second sojourn as I dry my hands I suddenly felt condemned by my practices as judgmental eyes perused my person.

And you know, I want to scream in that moment that I had simple had a pee and wiped my self effectively.  I wanted to reassure that at no time did I piss over my hand.

As humans we are covered in parasites.  Even as we towel down after a shower these organic creatures that depend upon us have begun to reassemble.  It’s just life really.

What are we fighting anyway?

We expect with the advances in technology to live in a certain manner, don’t we?

Yet sometimes, when I see someone shrink back from me because they feel I have a germ that will ‘threaten’ them in some manner, well, it just makes me sad.  We continue to isolate ourselves.  We live in an overstuffed world and never have we been lonelier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “A Game of Germ Warfare?

  1. I hate the auto-flush toilets the most. The damn things usually end up flushing and extra 2-3 times from the motion of me struggling to get my pants back up. Meanwhile, in Australia, every toilet – and I do mean EVERY toilet; even those in sketchy rest stops on the side of the highway – contain those johns where you can give a half-flush for small jobs. Much more environmentally friendly!

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