Selective Hand Washers: Forget Anthrax, There Is a Real Danger at Hand

By By Chad Armitstead

By Chad Armitstead

There are villains spreading bacteria and viruses all over the country?no, all over the world, I dare say.

So successful are these villains in spreading their secret and sinister microscopic ministers of disease, that bacteria and viruses may now pervade every doorknob you turn, every keyboard you touch and every remote-control button you innocently push.

Their diseases do not come in packages. They don’t come with warnings or biohazard stickers. These fiends’ bacteria are in cognito.

Where are these infectious illness catalysts? Look behind you. Look in front of you. Yes, look at the very hand you shake to say hello.

The villains of which I speak are none other than the Selective Hand Washers. Selective Hand Washers also appear occasionally as people not covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze in the middle of crowded rooms.

Although I have had run-ins with Selective Hand Washers before, I had my most recent brush with an S.H.W. a couple of days ago in a Union restroom.

I know that it’s uneducated to speak of restroom activities, but it’s for the sake of all of us.

I was dutifully washing my own hands and began to dry them. As I did so, another man entered the sink area of the restroom after having availed himself of the relief management facilities. He walked in, started toward the sink?then he bolted!

He turned on his heel and fled out the door, muttering something undecipherable like “germ killer!” as he left.

I never even saw his face?this guy was good! I couldn’t help but be impressed. A man of strategy must admire good strategy wherever it appears.

I stood and pondered for a moment what had just happened. I had just witnessed a hygiene crime, and I wanted to understand all of what had just transpired. I wondered if my eyes had deceived me.

He did use the facilities, I thought. He didn’t wash his hands.

What was going through his mind? What justification do these walking petri dishes employ to ease their consciences and sleep at night?

Perhaps they don’t want to kill anything in the world, including bacteria.

I can understand that. Maybe they object to our lack of water-conservation awareness here in Utah?maybe they’re just heeding the call of our water-friendly Governor Leavitt.

Possibly, they object to the environmental practices of the companies that produce the soap in the dispensers (perhaps the administration could look into it).

They may just be in a hurry.

All of these justifications considered, I have a feeling that a few of our hygienically challenged counterparts have at least once thought to themselves: “It’s just number one.” (I think I just heard a few gasps from our more sensitive readers.)

My answer to our on-the-go disease distributors: Yes, even the process for ‘number one’ warrants manual sanitation.

The Union has modernized its facilities, adding sensors to the commodes in the men’s restroom, making them self flushing.

Although this technology update may seem to be further justification for the modern Illness Distribution Technician, it simply is not.

Toilet handles, contrary to popular belief, are not the only housing units of bacteria and viruses. Yes, they will even take up residence on your hands, given the opportunity.

The toilets are self-flushing, your hands are not self washing. Unless you have a little sensor and state-of-the art plumbing installed in your hands, I’m afraid you’ll just have to wash them.

As a final image to leave with Selective Hand Washers everywhere, I would like to call from your memory an episode from health class.

Remember retrieving bacteria from various places?including the cutest girl in the class’ lips, doorknobs and the restroom?to put into a dish of blood auger?

Remember how nasty that thing looked after a couple of weeks? That dish got so full of bacteria that it started to look like an aerial view of a U2 concert where everyone was wearing red, yellow and green wigs.

We still love the hygienically challenged among us. We are politically correct?of course we don’t discriminate against you.

We just encourage you to join the ranks of those who wash for 20 seconds with soap after availing themselves of the relief- management facilities.

Winter is here, and with it comes the common cold, strep throat, sinus infections and their cousins.

We are at a university?a highly public, heavily trafficked area where bacteria can be couch potatoes and move miles every day, finding hundreds of hosts.

Let’s keep the U2 concerts on our hands to a minimum. However, if the spread of influenza and the common cold does become rampant despite our best hygiene promotion efforts, I wash my hands of it.

Chad welcomes feedback at: [email protected]