Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let's Get Dirty!

It is very difficult to skeeve me out. I suppose once you’ve finished lunch in a smart restaurant, headed to the ladies’ room, and been greeted by a hole in the floor and a couple of footrests, American attitudes about cleanliness seem a little absurd.

So I was amused to see that a grocery store in upscale/uptight Chevy Chase recently installed a shopping cart disinfection machine. It’s hazardous for small children to lick the handles, and it’s even more hazardous for hysterical germ-o-phobes to witness a child licking a handle. So they’re dousing each and every cart in a peroxide solution after every use. Good old soap and water? Not good enough for the denizens of Chevy Chase! I’m sure peroxide is a perfectly healthy dietary supplement for a small child.

I think we all need to get a bit grotty sometimes. It boosts the immune system and builds character. On my way to Screen on the Green last night, I saw a small child waving a stick around in a muddy puddle while repeatedly jamming his fingers in his mouth. His mother calmly watched from a bench, and for that I love her. My usual walk across the Mall involves watching parents chasing their kids around, exclaiming, “Don’t touch that! It’s dirty!” Yeah, lady, that’s because it’s dirt.

I loved the mom featured in the shopping cart article – her five kids are so busy lolling about in the mud she doesn’t have time to worry about shopping cart handles. I’m sure her prissier neighbors gave her hell for it, but I salute her common sense. I grew up on a well-rounded diet of dirt, mud, bugs, and horsehair, and turned out just fine.

I’m no scientist, but I think obsessive disinfecting just makes the germs bounce back stronger. I was kidney-punched by e.Coli and spent several months on antibiotics two years ago, so I can vouch that we don’t need to make germs any tougher than they already are.

I live clean. I mop, dust, change out the sponges, shower, use deoderant, wash my hands with soap and hot water, and refuse to eat mayo that’s been sitting out in the sun. It probably helps that I don’t even like mayo. But I don’t chase people around with Lysol, open doors with a paper towel, disinfect the desks of others (I worked with someone who did that!), or freak over the littlest bit of germiness. The Middle Ages are long over, and we are not doomed to die in vats of pestilence at the ripe old age of 35.

You have an immune system and a brain. Use them both, live cleanly and sensibly, and leave the hazmat routine to the experts.

PS - I'm changing the "Greatest Hits" section on the right to a "Your Favorites" section - so if you have a favorite post you'd like to see listed, please let me know! ("Hey, what a great view! I can see Shannon's ego from here!")

41 comments:

maryjanejeff said...

You mean you didn't Red Line it up to Chevy Chase to check for yourself? ;) I drove through Chevy Chase Pavillion once seeing as I needed to get to Rockville and Metro delays were pushing an hour. I immediately placed it just below most of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Ballston save for the ice rink as places that I can run through if I'm nearby just to run somewhere different but otherwise have no reason or desire to ever go to.

Stocks in the disinfectant's parent companies just went up .5 percent thanks to Chevy Chase. Spies Like Us is still a cool movie with a cool title track.

[F]oxymoron said...

Oh no! Shopping cart bacteria will be the downfall of this magnificent nation!!! The Dept. of Homeland Security better get a handle on this...

Shannon said...

MJJ, I did almost go up to investigate this cart machine, then I remembered that I have a life. Sure, my life mostly consists of alcohol and 90210, but it's a life nonetheless.

Foxy, did you use the word "handle" on purpose? Also, fight germs or the terrorists win!

Jamie said...

The shopping cart sanitizer is the clearest sign of the apocalypse yet. I expect that within 10 years every household in Chevy Chase will be fitted with full-body-condom-wrapper machines, so you can shrink-wrap yourself entirely before leaving the confines of your own home.

It's a dangerous world out there. Latex. Don't leave home without it.

Gilahi said...

I try my best to avoid products that are labeled as "antibacterial" for the very reason that I don't want to participate in the breeding of super, mutant, megagerms that manage to survive it.

In high school, our biology class once had single-cell nasties growing in pure Listerine by gradually upping the dose and breeding the survivors. A piece of a used cigarette filter killed them all instantly. So if you're a germaphobe, you shouldn't use antibacterial stuff. You should smoke.

Shannon said...

Jamie, then the kids of Chevy Chase, confined to their perfectly sanitized homes, will get extremely fat. Which is why their parents will enroll them in expensive sanitary exercise classes.

Gilahi, I don't smoke. Am I gonna die?

I do carry around a little bottle of hand sanitizer for when I can't wash my hands (such as the Port-a-Potties at Screen on the Green, which I use without even a dash of drama).

[F]oxymoron said...

Nope Shannon, that'd be the moron stumbling across words :)

Jamie - Ha! But the real question is this: How will people personalize their full-body-condoms? You know, make it an extension of their own unique personality and germaphobic take on the world

Gilahi said...

Shannon - Eventually.

Shannon said...

Foxy/Jamie - let's start a full body condom customization service! We'll be RICH!

Gilahi - nah, I'm too mean to die.

Vittoria said...

"Yeah, lady, that’s because it’s dirt."

hilaaaaaaaarious. got here from zipcode's blog and i think you're great (i like you, i really like you).

Shannon said...

Vittoria, thanks! Pull up a Jell-O shooter and a chair, join the party.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

I had the e coli kidney mixed with 9mm stone from hell, hospital hell for a week - almost lost my right kidney -

anyway dirt pies are awesome......

See your oscar I gave you this morning is getting you new readers.

Anonymous said...

Even mayo, if it's made from real olive oil, isn't as dangerous as it's cracked up to be. Olive oil has antibiotic properties. I once tested this (in DC, as it happens): I left chicken breasts marinated in olive oil, garlic, and lemon peel out of the fridge for 48 hours on a hot day, and cooked and ate them. I didn't get sick or even queasy afterwards. (But I did have a bit of a death-wish in those days.)

Clio

Shannon said...

Zip, I need lots of awards and praise to prop my fragile ego. I'm millenial that way.

Clio - problem is, people tend to use that fake light mayo crap that's probably made from soylent green.

Jamie said...

I really don't get the fake mayo thing. Actually there's a lot about Whole Foods I don't get, but the mayo really grinds my gears.

What is wrong with olive oil and eggs? They are both things you can buy at Whole Foods and both are completely natural. Yet some joker decided that canola oil would be a good substitute for olive oil. Sorry, hippies. It's nasty. And it makes no sense.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

Department of Germ Security - I want to be the director of this fine organization ---

Shannon said...

Jamie, I just don't like the texture of mayo. Too gooey!

Zip - Actually, we're having you walk the germ beat. Douse the evildoers in a peroxide solution!

Lemmonex said...

People are insane when it comes to germs. We are built to survive, people.

I once picked something up off the floor I had just dropped and ate it in front of a friend. He was horrified. It is always the men that are the most squeamish. I advised him that if he is that nervous about these things he should never eat in a restaurant again.

Hey Pretty said...

Some of the disinfectants out there that are being used these days really *are* bad for you but due to poor regulation on the part of the Feds, they're still widely used. Some are suspected to cause cancer while others are known endocrine disrupters. It's really messed up that they're allowed to be used so freely.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

Kind of like carry a super soaker gun full of peroxide "Hey you drop that muddy stick and back away slowly"

charlotteharris said...

I am one of those paper-towel-bathroom-door-openers... but only because I have seen so many people NOT wash their hands before leaving the restroom. I draw the line at wearing masks on airplanes, though. Seen that a bunch lately.

Shannon said...

Lemmonex, I agree. I have so many other things I'm busy being insane about.

HP - Yeah, I find it weird that people freak about germs but not about the chemicals they're slathering themselves in every day.

Zipcode - you'll also need a sexy hazmat suit.

Shannon said...

Charlotte - Masks? REALLY? Maybe the TSA really HAS driven people around the bend.

maryjanejeff said...

I like to err on the side of caution, especially when dealing with health issues, but this deal in CC went too far IMHO. I always wash the hands and do admit to being willing to wait for a port-a-john that I know has some sanitizer if in a place with lots of them (i.e. I used one before my race, I'll wait for the same one). If I really see a shopping cart that looks beyond gross I go use another one, not go looking for spray for a half an acre.

90210 - that's a blast from the past. I want to get dinner at The Peach Pit! Alcohol's fun, I miss it though it ain't so great for the wallet. When Sam Adams, a good but was much better when it was a pure microbrew beer, is "on sale" at Safeway for $17.99 a twelve pack, it forced me into wine. But a two month plus cold that hit me the same day as my worst hangover in a decade later, back to square one I go. Negra Modelo was the bargain $15.99 last time I needed beer that doesn't give me a headache. Yeah I live for work, running, the gym, and only slightly expensive beer. Every running event with a beer tent always seems to be when I need to drive home or get up early for something though.

While I don't think I ever had ecoli, I do get nasty kidney pains about every 6-8 months or so. Fortunately, they leave after about 24 hours. I did think I had West Nile Virus once, in Colorado in 2003 when the Outbreak was bad. Dodged that bullet too.

What does a 6 pack of PBR go for these days?

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

I actually have a hazmat suit believe it or not in the back of my vehicle from my old job -- ha what a great halloween costume idea.........

Justin said...

My coworkers like to clean the tops of Coke cans before they drink from them. This drives me nuts. If you can get sick from anything on there, perhaps Darwin was on to something..

I mean, there's the guy who eats no vegetables and got shingles not that long ago. At 25! No veggies. At all. Like, when he goes to Chipotle, he gets just rice and meat, and picks out the little tiny cilantro bits from the rice.

He's also on Lipitor. No joke.

Shannon said...

MJJ - there is no greater pain than a wine hangover.

Zipcode - you could go as a body condom! Jamie will decorate it for you.

Justin, I'm drinking a can of Coke right now, and you just made me inspect it for germs. Then I remembered, duh, you can't see germs!

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

sometimes you have to clean the coke can - if you can see the dirt, who wants to drink dirt really?

we are all going to die someway or another.

Cause of Death: Coke Can Germs, film at a 11

Tina said...

I'm thinking that the full body latex is not enough. I mean those suckers fail now and they right. I can't be the only one this has happend to. To be really safe I think we should all be laminated.

Shannon said...

Zip - I like dirt. Gives my soda a little texture.

Tina - Perhaps the company that came out with the grocery cart sanitizer can come out with a body laminator.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

you like the crunchyness eh?

Michael said...

"Grotty"? You're well read! That's not a word usually found in American jargon, you Anglophile, you.

But a shower and deodorant too? Bit of overkill, isn't it? :)

Shannon said...

Zip - indeed!

Michael - Well, when the delousing station is closed, I have to settle for a shower.

Anonymous said...

And yet the same people are still having sex.
Oh well, I suppose you have to draw the line somewhere.
Gal

lacochran's evil twin said...

I'm with you. My neighbors will not let their kids run barefoot in the grass. I weep for them.

Shannon said...

Gal, I bet between the germphobia and fertility treatments, sex goes extinct.

LaTwin, that's just mean. Few things feel better than bare feet on grass.

Dave B. said...

Shannon, why'd you ditch the 12 Monkeys pic. That was great. :P

Shannon said...

Dave - the image was copyright-protected. Which is odd, because film stills usually aren't.

BatesHorn said...

So, I'm a nerd. I'll get that out there first. Second, as parent, I TOTALLY agree with your post. People need to grow a set, so to speak.

The carts were washed in Hydrogen Peroxide, which is essentially a water (h2o) with an extra oxygen atom tacked on. When exposed to light, it breaks down into Water and Oxygen, so it's about as benign a substence from a waste perspective imaginable. It does have antiseptic qualities prior to breaking down.

The antibacterial soaps you see today, along with the low grade antibacterial drugs they feed livestock do seriously threaten to create a new super bug.

Handsanitizer gel is just alcohol (not the kind you drink Lem). Perfect for a post metro hand cleaning if that's your bag.

Not me. Since I live with two small petri dishes, disease is now my friend. I harness it's power like Dr. Doom on a bender.

Shannon said...

Bates - my inner child keeps wanting to address you as "Master"...

Thanks for the science, but I'm still more afraid of antibacterial stuff than I am of plain old natural dirt.

BatesHorn said...

lol.

I agree about the antibacterials. A hot water and a bar of ivory soap is essentially the same and doesn't threaten to expose us all to the next plague.