As a child, I was told a little dirt was good for you. Sure, Mom taught me to be clean, but she didn't expect me to go around spotless all the time. No, I was not expected to wash every time I touched some surface that didn't look clean.
Today's world seems to be full of germs and hand sanitizers are appearing everywhere. It is considered plain common sense to squirt and rub. We have learned this from experience. Actually, epidemics have been averted because people concerned with their health have acquired the good habit of hand washing.
When do they wash? Well, just about any time the hands get dirty. Viruses live for hours on door knobs, handrails, keyboards and similar surfaces. They may be on hands after a sneeze, a cough, a handshake, or after visiting and tending a sick friend or relative. Some of these reasons for frequent hand washing became ever more clear after a relative went to the hospital on Christmas Eve. We encountered many sick people at the institution and welcomed the presence of so many hand sanitizers placed throughout the facility. The little boxes attached to the walls near elevators were well stocked with antibacterial sanitizers and signs encouraging their use. Personal hygiene was urged. For well over a week, we have spent hours each day in that world of EEGs, MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, bed pans, feeding and breathing tubes, doctors, nurses and technicians. Visiting a very sick person with flu-like symptoms calls for extra cleanliness. We began a serious re-examination of Mom's theory about a little dirt not hurting one. Maybe dirt didn't hurt years ago; but, in these days and times, people have to be more careful. If the frequent use of hand sanitizers is recommended by physicians, then why not join the program, cooperate and stay well? Hey, I am all for it, and am here to tell you I squirt and rub every time I pass one of those gadgets. I am not paranoid, but I do not trust today's germs and avoid them in every way possible. I know they are out to get me.
So, perhaps I am obsessed with keeping what good health I have. I admit to carrying hand sanitizer around in the glove boxes of the family vehicles.
If you happen to cough, or sneeze, before shaking my hand, please do not take offense if I duck into the glove box for preventive treatment!
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.