5 Oct

I’ve lived all over the world and visited quite a few places too and I have never come across such an obsession with germs before I came here. It would seem that everyone carries hand sanitizer around with them – this being a Third World country and all, you know sometimes clean running water is just inches away! I mean what on earth? I just don’t understand it. Before the only time I ever saw hand sanitizer was in the hospital – and mostly it’s how hospitals don’t want you bringing your germs in, rather than bringing their germs out. Most people (3 out of  4?) carry MRSA in their nostrils you know! Let’s see you try and get your hand sanitizer up there!

Anyway, this germ-phobia thing that seems to have gripped this entire nation really got to me the other evening. We were in a restaurant and I went to the restroom (not the toilet, don’t mention the “T word”) to change the turtle’s bum (am I allowed say bum I wonder, it doesn’t sound very sanitary). On our way out, there was a little girl (maybe 8 or 9) struggling with the door. Really struggling. To get the door open, without using her hands. Elbows and arms were ok. But not hands. I had to step in.  Had to. Otherwise we’d still be there. Germs surrounding us. Ready to pounce. On our hands.

We all got out safely. Thank God! And she went  back to her table, where her mother(?) asked her how she escaped from the clutches of the evil restroom germs (I’m extemporizing) and she told her someone opened the door for her (this bit I heard). Now, why if you had a child so afraid of germs that she was flummoxed by a bathroom door would you send her off by herself? Why indeed would you frighten the life out of a child so that they can’t pull open a door?

Germs are everywhere! Actually, according to quite a number of advertisements there are more germs on my chopping board than there are on my toilet seat. How have I survived? Ah yes. My digestive system kills most of the germs I unwittingly  put in my mouth  from my septic tank of  a chopping board and my immune system deals with the rest. And some of them I need, they save me from buying probiotic drinks and whatnot to help “improve” my digestive tract.

I’d have thought that bathroom doors were as clean as anywhere else. If the great unwashed use the bathroom and leave without washing their hands, the bathroom door won’t be the only thing they’ll touch. All of the germs they are carrying will not be left on the bathroom door. They’ll bring them with them wherever they go and leave traces of them on everything they touch. So if you can’t touch the bathroom door, you can’t touch anything. At all. Whatsoever. Unless you’re in your own house. You can touch anything you want in there. Just don’t invite anyone else in. Ever!

See where this kind of thinking gets you? You’ll end up in a bubble. You and your hand sanitizer. All alone. You’ll be clean. But I suspect you’ll be lonely.

In a place where hand sanitizer is on the shelf with the “Back to School Essentials” how am I going to teach the little turtle a healthy respect for germs without turning him into a neurotic germophobe? Will he be bullied because he is the only one who will touch the bathroom door? Or will he be a hero? With a line of little boys behind him, flummoxed by doors and germs? God, the things you think about when you’re a parent!


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