George Davis would like to see hand-washing become the rule, not the exception.
I’ve handled a lot of nasty things in my life.
One of my very favorite jobs I had just out of High School was working as a hospital orderly for twenty hours a week. I was privileged to work in all departments of the place from the ER where I did everything from performing CPR on incoming emergency transports to assisting with autopsies in the pathology lab. I carried babies to X-ray. I worked with Alzheimer patients, the terminally ill, those with non-healing wounds, surgery prep and transport. I cleaned up bedpans, vomit and bloody gauze bandages. I’d still be there, but I was starving to death on the wages, and life moved on.
I also drove a garbage truck in Detroit. I ran a septic-tank cleaning business in Indiana for a local business man, once covering myself in the contents of the tank when I opened a valve inadvertently. I’ve raised hogs for six years.
Nothing fazes me. Except my current job.
It’s not all the rotting food left in a dead refrigerator for days. That’s bad enough with a powerful stink like a morgue that clings to your skin and clothes the entire day. Or the foul water left in a dishwasher after it quits working that can give you the dry heaves.
It’s having to hand my pen and laptop over to my customer to use to sign company-required documents after every job is done.
It’s having strangers handle my writing utensils.
I was in a home recently with a very gassy old woman. At one point I went to the truck for a part for her refrigerator and when I came back she was in the bathroom. I noticed after she flushed, she didn’t wash her hands. I notice things like this because I once worked in a hospital setting and a couple restaurants where hand washing was a job requirement.
I then had to hand her my laptop to take a survey and my pen to sign the sales receipt. Needless to say I was silently freaking.
According to the World Health organization the leading cause of child death is diarrheal diseases caused by germs transmitted by hands. Transmitted human feces are killing kids. One gram of human waste contains 10 million viruses and 1 million bacteria. Feces are the sources for shigellosis, typhoid, cholera, E-coli and other gastro-enteric infections and some respiratory infections.
A 2003 study by Curtis and Cairncross suggests that these infections can be reduced world-wide by 47% with the simple use of soap and water after defecation. Any soap. Yet countries like India, where disease is high, only 34% of the population wash their hands. In Ghana only 3%, Brazil 16%, Northern England 47%, Kyrgyzstan 0%. From what I observe, the United States is probably on par with the English.
I once stopped at a sub shop where the kid behind the counter was in the toilet. I heard him flush, the door swung open, and he put on his apron and asked for my order. There was no hand washing from what I could tell. I walked out and went hungry.
The CDC estimates that each year about 1 in 6 Americans get sick and 3,000 dies of food-borne diseases. We contaminate one another with shopping cart handles, door handles and gas pump handles. Or when the server behind the donut counter takes your money then pours coffee, jamming on the lid with unwashed hands. Or makes a sandwich, sticks it on the pan to heat, then grabs the greasy handle to transfer your meal back to the unwashed counter top to wrap the thing.
Or when someone uses your ink pen.
photo jariciii / flickr