Tag Archives: germs

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.