We all have them. Bad habits we don’t want anyone to know about.
Not always so easy with cleanliness and hygiene. Our “crimes” are too obvious to miss.
Yeah OK, we know we should tidy up. Not just for appearances, but to stay out of trouble.
Easy enough for ourselves, but a minefield of nasty surprises when what we do impacts other people.
That’s the thing, see. It’s not just us. If it was, we could live like slobs and nobody would care.
A wider responsibility
Except we don’t live alone, do we? Family, friends, work colleagues, customers – our lives are intertwined with maybe hundreds of people – all of whom could get mighty pissed off if our behaviour messes with their health and living conditions.
Of course, a lot of this we already know – and unconsciously correct for.
A lift full of wrinkled noses at our sweat and BO very quickly persuades us to use regular deodorant. Same thing with breath fresheners and toothpaste.
Smells are offensive, yes. They’re also a sign of bacteria at work. Something isn’t right, so bacteria are eating it. The smell of infection and disease is a warning for others – it could be contagious, keep away.
And right there is our hiccup. What it is that makes bad habits bad.
Actually microbes of all kinds – bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa. “Bugs” to most of us – nasty germs that make us ill and bring us down. At least that’s our usual experience of them.
And why our bad habits can bring so much trouble.
We luck our bugs onto other people and they can get ill. Depending on the illness, it could screw up their lives. There could be permanent damage – disability, deformity, mental impairment. They could even die. Super bad habits, super bad all round.
None of which is likely to win us as friends. It’s our fault, we’ve ruined their lives, they want compensation. Think of a number with lots of zeroes behind it it. That’s us, paying for ever – the unwanted price for a silly bad habit.
Bad, bad, bad
And no, we’re not talking the gruesome stuff that some people get up to – eating food dropped to the floor per the crazy “five second rule”, eating off plates unwashed from a previous meal, or wearing week-old clothes. We’re on about day-to-day things, the daily bad habits that all of us share.
Number One is not washing our hands.
We all reckon we do wash them, but most of the time we don’t, as these shocking statistics show:
- 95% of people don’t wash their hands properly.
- 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after the loo.
- Only 12% of people wash their hands before eating.
How can we be so careless? Because we judge by appearances, not reality. Our hands look clean, therefore they are. Meanwhile, they’re anything but.
Which does ourselves no good – and those around us neither.
Sure, we’re better off than a century ago, but not because we wash our hands. Back then, many homes did not have a bathroom and most people washed only once a week – a tin bath in the kitchen, filled from the kettle. Toilets were the “long drop,” often outside. Even running water and sewerage were not available to everyone.
Modern day hygiene levels are a quantum leap away, which makes us a lot healthier. Bathrooms are essential, our super-efficient toilets are discreet – and our whole culture makes baths a regular indulgence, showers a daily treat. We’re cleaner and healthier in every possible way.
But not our hands.
They get down and dirty as much as they always did. Germs are as invisible as they always were too. So we waltz through the day with the same carelessness that we always have, never thinking for a moment that many of our illnesses are therefore self inflicted.
All the usual bad guys – escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, norovirus, even colds and flu – are all afflictions picked up by direct contact.
And no, we don’t always catch them from food which is contaminated by them – more likely we catch them from food which we ourselves have tainted with our own mitts – germs from a whole day’s worth of touching things without washing our hands.
Just ask yourself this. Sitting down for a meal in a restaurant, when was the last time you washed your hands? Come on, genuinely?
When you came in? Before you left home? As you left work? After your last pee break? After lunch? After breakfast? When you did your teeth?
And how many things have you touched since that time? Things that were touched by other people?
How many germs did you pick up, or transfer elsewhere by direct contact?
And how many times did you touch your face during all of that, passing germs on through the soft tissue of eyes and mouth? (Hint: most of us touch our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day.)
Germs on our hands!
Passed on by touching all the things we share in common. The firm handshake of friendship, door handles, light switches, keypads, documents, money, knives and forks. We pass germs to other people, they pass germs to us. Because it’s not just our hands that are unwashed, it’s all of those other things too.
Your fault? Theirs?
We’re all equally culpable.
Because all we have to do is wash our hands and nothing happens. No illness, no time off work, no loss of income, nothing. No reason for anyone to sue.
Unless of course we’re responsible for the things we touch.
Then Number Two, it’s our negligence – failing to protect people from germs caught off objects we didn’t keep safe. Not cleaned, not disinfected, the equivalent of not washing hands all over again. Well, who does wipe down the lift call buttons and sanitise every telephone handset at least once every day?
Except that’s fixable too. By sterilising the lot – and the actual room they’re in – by misting the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Reaching everywhere, all viruses and bacteria are oxidised to nothing, destroyed, dead.
At a stroke, all the “touchables” and the environment they’re in are safe and free from germs.
We still have them of course. Always posing for selfies. Wearing trainers at work. Two twists of sugar with our flat white.
But nobody’s likely to sue us for them.
Picture Copyright: halfbottle / 123RF Stock Photo