The Art of (Germ) War(fare)


I like to think I’m a pretty tolerant person. When I’m on an airplane and some annoying baby starts wailing because it’s too stupid to figure out how to yawn to alleviate the cabin pressure, I don’t turn around and punch it in the face.

When someone is standing on an intimate level of closeness behind me in line at the grocery store, I don’t turn around and yell “Hey, why don’t you just climb into my uterus? It’s much more comfortable in there.”

When my husband leaves his dirty socks all over the house because his chromosomes apparently make them invisible to his male corneas, I don’t secretly collect them and then wait until he’s asleep so I shove them all down his stupid, non-sock-picking-up throat.

So the fact that I want to jab sharp pencils into my eyes and stomp baby pandas to death every time I see commercials like the one below should tell you something about its annoy-ness factor.

Now, I’m no scientist, but wouldn’t the fact that you have a “germy” hand soap dispenser be kind of moot? Since (stay with me here now) you IMMEDIATELY wash those germs off with the soap (you still with me?) you just dispensed.

I know! I know! It’s a wild theory to thrust out there in this day and age when people eat anti-bacterial soap for breakfast and snort Emergen-C like cocaine-fiends from September to May. As we all know, everyday common germs are a threat to the very fabric of America and as such must be irrationally feared and scrubbed off the surface of the earth. In fact, you know that scene in “A Christmas Story” where the kid licks the light pole? Now rated NC-17. We must protect our little ones from such subversive behavior with the micro-terrorists.

But…could it be that we are possibly, just POSSIBLY, over-reacting here? Oh sure, I know that’s incredibly non-PC to say in this world where people will call CPS on you if you dare feed your children anything but organic, gluten-free baby food and where you can request the name and resume of the chicken breast you are eating at a restaurant.

But (again), and I never thought I’d have to say this at only 30-years-old, when I was growing up, I don’t remember germs being this big of a deal. Hell, according to my mom, I used to play in the toilet as a toddler and, while I’m sure she cleaned me, there was no dousing me in bleach and ammonia. I have a cousin who used to eat dirt and bugs like they were candy. We played on playgrounds that no soccer mom had ever felt the need to swab samples from and send to a lab to get the germ count. When a baby dropped its binkie on the disgusting kitchen floor or outside, it was simply popped back into its mouth without first being decontaminated in a clean room.

And for the most part, we all turned out fine (my bug-eating cousin notwithstanding…fingers crossed she passes her parole board hearing in November).

Granted, I don’t have kids yet (pause for collective sigh of relief). But I have a feeling all this over-protectiveness regarding germs is possibly starting to do more harm than good. I was always under the impression that in order to build up an immune system, you had to actually be…GASP!…exposed to germs.

And the same goes for adults. Sure, public bathrooms are icky and demand all kinds of anti-bacterial armor. No one can fault you there. But is it necessary to rub your hands with hand sanitizer every other time you touch a surface?

There comes a point where you can take that whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” thing too far.

And that point is when you have a hand soap dispenser you don’t have to touch for fear of the germs you might come into contact within the 0.003 seconds it takes for the soap to actually hit your hand.


7 responses to “The Art of (Germ) War(fare)

  1. I so agree. As usual you stated the obvious with humor and elegance. Thanks for making my day!

  2. No problem! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat some Purell. 😉

  3. I also dislike (both the commercial and the product) the new bathroom handtowels. Why, I ask you? Why are these necessary? You want to tell the people in the commercial to use their flingin’ flangin’ washer, you know?

  4. I respectfully disagree. I think it’s okay to take any possible precautions to avoid taking on other people’s germs. And to the question/statement “is it necessary to rub your hands with hand sanitizer every other time you touch a surface” I say YES! From those of us who are trying to stop the spread of disease and make the world a healthier place I say Your Welcome!

  5. Dear Mrs. Clean,
    You are what I like to call a germaphobe. There’s nothing wrong with it, except for the fact that when you do come in contact with a mild germ that would not even register on anyone else’s radar, your body reacts like it’s World War III. You get sick, and I don’t mean just a little sick, I’m talking green stuff coming out of all orifices sick. I know this because my best friend is a germaphobe and can’t quite figure out why she gets near deathbed sick over a common cold. I tell her it’s because she has no built-up tolerance to germs [no natural vaccine, if you will].
    Now don’t get me wrong, if I see a toddler who is just getting over the flu anywhere near my food, I tend to freak a little, but I’m not likely to spray little Timmy down with Lysol and cover him head to toe in hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes. I’ll just move my plate away and hand his mother a tissue [I’ve done it before]. My kid rarely gets sick other than asthma-related stuffs when the seasons change and I let her play in the dirt, climb trees, pick up candy off the floor and a whole assortment of “bad” mom behavior [no toilet playing though. Sorry Aprill]. She’s as healthy as the next kid, maybe even healthier. I don’t want her to be afraid of germs or of touching things that someone who may have had some germs or come into contact with someone who may have had some germs accidentally breathed on or touched. I don’t want her to freak out at the first sign of dust or dirt or hose her future kids down with germ killers anytime they come in her home. But that’s just me…

  6. my brother once lost his gum in the chicken house. he ‘thought’ he found it 14 times. luckily he found it on the 15th try. 🙂

  7. Mrs. Clean
    I do believe that people like you are the cause of sooo many kids having allergies to whatever these days. Let that baby crawl on the floor that hasn’t been professionally sanitized and put whatever that thing is they put in their mouth, they’ll spit it out if it tastes nasty.

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