Know that expression, “if you can’t beat them, join them”?
Applied to the awkward fact that 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly after going to the loo, we don’t like the way it’s looking at us.
Especially when that kind of carelessness brings so many of us down with the vomiting bug, norovirus – aka Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.
So our suggestion is to turn it around – “if you can’t join them, beat them.”
Because frankly, there’s no way we’re going to risk our health out of aversion to a little soap and water. Not if it means stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea – where’s the sense in that?
And it makes least sense of all when we go out for a meal.
A special moment, special food, special friends – suddenly cut short by the awful vomiting bug.
Except it’s our fault, isn’t it?
When was the last time we washed our hands before we sat down? And all that yuck on them from the loo two hours ago? Small wonder that our tummies go heave-ho as the first mouthfuls go down.
Nicely contaminated by our grubby fingers – they don’t look it, but they are – covered in norovirus or salmonella, too small to see so we kid ourselves that they’re clean anyway.
Next stop, A&E to have our stomachs pumped out.
Blame the restaurant
Because no restaurant wants a bad rep for food poisoning when the real cause is so often customers with dirty hands.
So if you can’t join them, beat them, make a ritual out of it – a special hand washing ceremony before anybody eats.
Not a bit of it. In some restaurants, it’s already the practice to provide finger bowls – a ritual by themselves. So the idea of washing your hands at table is not so foreign.
And though it’s unusual, they’re not so crazy in popular restaurants either – nobody minds the focus on hygiene, it’s just unexpected.
Which leaves plenty of scope to take it a lot further – if nothing else, people will like it for the novelty.
And though it’s really a serious thing, you can even make it fun. (Thanks again, Northampton General Hospital!)
Halfway there already
On some airlines already, a sealed courtesy-wipe is provided to do hands and face with a meal. Biz-class and above do the same with hot towels.
And in the more exotic Turkish restaurants, part of the whole character is a huge copper basin with hot water brought to the table – and a copper jug to pour water over guests’ hands in a welcoming ritual.
Add scented soap and complimentary towels, and you have a whole hygiene procedure. A restaurant with unique, memorable character too.
Seems other countries have a better take on hygiene than we do. Go to Malaysia, and you’ve got to try “street food” – real, intricate, restaurant quality meals served out in the open, at the roadside.
Scrumptious yes, with your crockery and cutlery brought straight to your table in a basin of boiling water. Haul out your handy tube of gel that you carry always, and your hands are just as safe and sterilised.
A new ritual
Which is why we’re suggesting that a ritual is the thing. We’re already halfway there with the ritual of the phone. Look around you next time you’re out. Everyone on other tables always starts with Facebook or Twitter or something.
OK, so do the same with the gel. Haul it out, pass it round. Make it a feature of being out together. Everyone will know it’s good and hygienic, so there won’t be many refusals.
And if anybody asks why, simply say that nobody’s going to catch Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease if you can help it – not on your watch.
Which is why you do it at home too. These days, folks tend to sit round the TV more than the dinner table. But it’s the easiest thing in the world to pass the gel around.
Before you know it, a quick squidge before eating becomes everyone’s habit – and Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease becomes a rarity more than the norm.
Didn’t know staying healthy could be so simple?
Sure beats being ill when you don’t have to be.