I wanna hold your hand... NOT!
An article I saw today, which appeared in no less a magazine than ‘Forbes’, began as follows: “Women do it better than men, but no one does it perfectly.” As you can imagine, I was immediately interested. And then I read the next line, which said: “The issue, of course, is hand washing.”
Seriously, the article was about a new survey of washrooms in public places which found, quite shockingly I’m sure, that only 83 percent of American adults actually wash their hands after using the bathroom, even though 91 percent say they do. The survey was released Wednesday by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association, a trade group, in honour of Clean Hands Week.
I have a number of issues with this survey, the most important of them being: Exactly how much importance should we give to the findings of a group of people who feel the need to honour something called ‘Clean Hands Week’? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense if the concerned authorities would just get them admitted to a mental institution? Or better, have them taken outside and shot?
The survey was carried out in two stages. In the first stage, more than 6,300 individuals were observed as they washed or didn't wash their hands in restrooms at different public attractions in four major cities in the U.S.A. In the second, a telephone survey of more than 1,000 adults was carried out designed to find out what Americans said they were doing. Overall, 83 percent of adults (90 percent of women and 75 percent of men) observed did wash their hands. In the telephone survey, however, 91 percent of adults claimed to always wash their hands after using a public restroom.
Let’s first concentrate on the findings of the telephone survey. To be frank, I’m not at all concerned with the 91 percent of people who said that they did wash their hands. I couldn’t care less if they were lying or not. I’m more concerned with the 9 percent who said otherwise. Imagine, one day, you get a call at home in which an unknown stranger is asking you about your personal hygiene habits. Now, as a normal person, what would you do? Hang up, right? But no, these 90 odd people carried on talking and in answer to the question, “Do you wash your hands after you go to the bathroom?”, actually replied with a “No, I don’t.” I mean, how stupid is that? And given this level of intelligence, I’m sure that if given a chance, they’d have explained further, saying: “I usually don’t wash my hands, but occasionally when I get a little bit of pee on my hands, I wipe them on my jeans.”
And now, let’s focus on the first stage of this path-breaking study, when people were ‘observed’ at public washrooms. Isn’t that illegal or something? I hope they did it with some discretely placed cameras at least because it would have been really disturbing if a nerdy looking guy with spectacles was quietly standing in the corner of the public washroom watching you as you use it and then making notes in a small black diary. The women won’t have too much of a problem, given that they generally have cubicles but it’s not like that for the guys, who have to do it in the open.
A guy peeing in a public urinal is like a golfer trying to putt. You’ve seen it on TV a million times, when the camera focuses on him from behind. He stands still for a long time and then he wiggles his butt and settles himself. And then stands still for some more. Now this kind of behaviour might be incredibly hilarious to the people watching but don’t you think that it’s also very important to respect the privacy of these poor, innocent men.
But whatever issues we may have with the actual study process, both legal or otherwise, we just cannot ignore the gravity of the findings. "Eighty percent of all infections are transmitted by direct and indirect contact," says Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center and author of five books, including one called ‘The Secret Life of Germs’.
Even if you don’t believe me, you just cannot argue with the opinion of a man who is so obsessed with germs that he is not satisfied with merely knowing about their normal lives and day jobs but has actually spent time trying to find out about their secret lives. Now, if that is not commitment, what is? So, the next time you find yourself in a situation where you might have to shake hands with an American adult, do remember that your life could be in grave danger. If it’s an American woman, then you’re pretty safe but if you have to shake hands with an American man, then you’d better get some insurance real quick.
The good doctor went on to say that ‘hand washing’ was the surest way to protect our health and safeguard ourselves against infection. But not just any hand washing, he adds. Dr. Tierno recommends washing the hands for 40 seconds or longer, or as he puts it, time enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Now, on one hand, we have a group of experts telling us not to waste water and on the other hand, we have Dr. Tierno telling us to place our hands under a running tap and sing “Happy Birthday” twice. What I want to know is, which of the experts do we believe, and exactly how insane is this Dr. Tierno?
Now, the actual result of the survey – the fact that women wash their hands better than us guys came as no surprise to me, given that the survey was carried out by the Soap and Detergent Association, which, as I proved in an earlier post, is guilty of a female bias. But in all honestly, we guys know that women do most things better than us and the truth is, we don’t really mind. But we wish that these bloody scientists would stop reminding us about it and let us be the slobs we are.
So, respected scientists, we men already know what we're like. You don't need to keep telling us. We’re sick, disgusting and all those other adjectives people normally use to describe members of the pig family. The research you keep carrying out about men and women does not do too much good for our ego and self-respect. In other words, we don’t like your research. We spit on your research. No, we pee on it. And then, we don’t wash our hands.
P.S: If you don't believe a word of this post, click here.