Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I recently mentioned to my girlfriend that I was a borderline germophobe. After a brief moment of pure, unadulterated laughter, it was kindly explained to me that I am far from borderline, I am, in fact, way off the deep end. And while I still maintain that washing your hands 38 times a day is neither excessive or compulsive, I will accept that I have an aversion to germs and dirtiness in general. I will not apologize for it though.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it or not here on the blog, (I probably have, but I’m not going to do any research, that’s what the research department* is for and it’s high time they earned their money.) but one of my biggest pet peeves is people that do not wash their hands after using the restroom. I consider it to be the filthiest room in any complex or house simply due to the nature of that room. Filthy things happen in there… dirty, disgusting, filthy, albeit necessary, things. To not wash your hands after doing ANYTHING in that room is inexcusable in my book.**

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make (also noted in my book) is to wash their hands, dry them off and then use their now clean hands to open the door to exit the restroom. Given the tremendous number of individuals that do not wash their hands after using the restroom, you have now negated any had washing that may have occurred and are now contaminated with filth once again.

With that in mind, I offer up “Jon’s guide to hand washing in a society filled with non-hand washing, filthy mongrels.” I suppose if I had more time and talent, I would have given that some fancy font or something, but this is like a low budget indie film, it’s good because it sucks. (or so I like to think.)

First, lets go over some of the basics. Any decent public restroom has a good supply of paper towels. I much prefer the newer, fancy motion sensor paper towel dispensers that give you a new sheet with the wave of a hand. No physical contact with the dispenser is required and us germophobes really appreciate that. Nothing disappoints me more than those stupid blow dryers. They are possibly the most useless invention of all time. Not only do they do an exceptionally poor job of drying your hands, but has anyone ever flipped one up to dry off their face? The words, “Amazingly Pleasant” will never ever ever be used to describe that experience. Plus, you’re touching filth everywhere… pushing the button to get the air started, fiddling with the directional nozzle, and ultimately, opening the door to leave the restroom. In the long run, you’ll want to make sure you know the vitals of any public restroom you may come into contact with. To help you out with that, I’ve come up with a little acronym to remember anytime you go into a restroom. Use it when you enter a new restroom for the first time and then think back on it every time you encounter an approved restroom on your roster. It’s a little something I like to call… S.S.S.S.D.D.T.T&U.

S – Stalls. You’re going to want to know the stall situation in any restroom. How many are there, what kind of condition are they in, do the doors swing out or do they open in towards the toilet, is there a handicap one (often times they like to make these stalls just a bit too small, and accidentally making contact with any of these filthy walls is just not acceptable. If a handicapped stall is available, it provides the best chance of avoiding any contact with the horrifically contaminated walls.) and of course, how does the locking mechanism on the stall door work.

S – Sink. You’ll want to know the sink situation as well. How many are there, do they have twist on twist off faucets or the timed, push down and get a little water, or the must-constantly-hold-down-if-you-want-any-water-at-all type. What kind of water pressure do they possess, has anyone stuck gum under the tap?

S – Soap. This is a good thing to know. Most places are going to have some sort of liquid soap dispenser, you’ll want to know if it’s scented or unscented. You’ll also want to know if they have that amazingly cheap, sand like substance that’s supposed to be soap but really only succeeds in taking off a layer of skin, which, I guess, is some level of clean, but it’s also some level of pain. I avoid this prison style soap whenever possible.

S – Sanitary. Every restroom is inherently filthy and thus unsanitary, but there are varying degrees of sanitation. They range anywhere from high class restaurant all the way down to subway terminal in the “neglected” part of town. It’s up to the individual to decide what level they will allow themselves to drop down to.

D – Drying Apparatus. I briefly mentioned this earlier. You’re going to want a restroom that supplies itself with some sort of paper towels. Be it with the magic motion sensing dispenser, or the traditional hand crank method, or the upside down tissue style dispenser. The aforementioned air drying apparatus is unacceptable, as is the recycling, semi-cloth, non-removable, filth-rag I’ve come across occasionally.

D - Door. Always important to pay attention to how the door opens. You’d rather be able to push the door open on the way out rather than on the way in, but this is a bit of a rarity. You’ll also want to note what kind of handle you’re working with, do you twist it or grab it.

T – Toilet Paper. Keep yourself apprised of the TP situation in any restroom. One simple rule: You can never have too much.

T & U – Toilet and Urinal. Always pay attention to the current state of the facilities. (ladies, you can ignore the urinal. But if you happen to see one of substandard condition, feel free to let your male friends know. Also, please stay out of the men’s room.)

See how easy that is to remember? A 7 year old prodigy could do it.

I’ll now give you a quick, step by step guide to washing your hands with the following conditions: Reasonably clear restroom with a crank handled paper towel dispenser, liquid soap (unscented), twist on, twist off faucet and a door that must be pulled from inside the restroom to open. For our purposes, we’ll assume that you’ve been in a restroom before and have completed your main task, and now have only the hand washing left to do.

Step 1: with your currently unclean hands, give the paper towel dispenser a few cranks, leaving a small section of paper towel hanging down. DO NOT TOUCH this section, leave it hanging there for now.

Step 2: turn on the water and set to the desired temperature.

Step 3: get your hands wet.

Step 4: dispense soap onto your hands and begin to lather and clean.

Step 5: rinse off your hands, but DO NOT TURN OFF THE WATER. Do not even touch the faucet handles. Leave the water running for now.

Step 6: detach the previously cranked paper towel and use as a barrier against the filth to now crank out as much paper towel as needed to properly dry your hands, then toss that small section into the trash. (the reason for this is that all too often, the filthy non-hand washing folks will enter the room, be filthy, not wash their hands, but still grab some paper towels for whatever reason. Basically, this is a safety catch-all to make sure that your clean hands are not exposed to filth.)


Step 8: using the paper towel as a barrier against filth, turn off the faucet, but DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PAPER TOWEL.

Step 9: once again, using the paper towel as a barrier against filth, open the restroom door, use your foot to hold the door open while you toss the now used and partially contaminated paper towel into the trash. (in an ideal situation, the trash can is right next to the exit, but if it is not, never fear, this gives you an excellent opportunity to practice your old, wet, filthy, paper towel basketball skills.)

Step 10: leave the restroom feeling as clean as you possibly can.

Well, that about wraps it up for today. Tune in next time where I teach you how to block out thoughts of a disgustingly unclean janitor putting those paper towels in the dispenser in the first place :)

*The research hopes you will accept it’s deepest apologies as they were unable to get to this request what with the holidays (Veteran’s Day) fast approaching.

**It should be noted that my book is not well publicized and has a decidedly low readership.


cadiz12 said...

i work with some filthy mongrels, but i think a few readers of your book are employed there as well. there is a small pile of used paper towels on the floor near the door out of the restroom; likely because the layout requires someone with some mad wet, filthy, paper towel basketball skills. such as myself.

however, i wouldn't mind adding to the pile; maybe it'll be a hint to the housekeeping management to put a small trashcan there.

Jester said...

Greetings Northern Cal. I'm trying to hit as many NaBloPoMo sites as I can, and only commenting on the ones I like.

I thought I was the only one who cringes at the thought of using a restroom not my own...

Radioactive Jam said...

Jon, a few months ago I wrote a post about some girl who did a study on "water cleanliness." After collecting samples and having them analyzed by a lab, she found significantly less e. coli bacteria in water taken from public toilets than samples taken from-- well. You probably don't want to know where the "consumer-safe" water with its higher e. coli count came from. Let's just say it wasn't anywhere in the bathroom.

Maybe this kind of knowledge should make me more diligent / vigilant, but it doesn't. Instead it makes me think, What's the point?

Clearly I need re-programming.

hellohahanarf said...

i just peed a little reading this.



Jon said...

Cadiz: I know I’m not alone out there, but I still feel horribly outnumbered… Glad I can count you on my side though :)

Jester: Welcome :) No, you are not alone, but as I mentioned before, we are extremely outnumbered.

Jam: The point is simple. I’m neurotic. But beyond that, I don’t often fall victim to these types of lab reports wherein the whole world is basically a cesspool. It’s not productive. They love to scare you with those reports anyway. They love the fecal matter cam… I hate it, but I can easily see how it gets spread around.

Hellohahanarf: Hi :) you’re welcome, and please take care of that little problem.

Radioactive Jam said...

Wow, I haven't seen the word 'narf' in print for a long time.

Leighton Harvey said...

I felt the same way, so I came up with a solution called the Footpull. You use you foot to open the door instead of your clean hands. I got the patent on it and all. Check it out at www.footpull.com