Science, Society, Work

Retail Tales: Unpleasant and Unhygenic

"Cover Coughs, Cover Sneezes" - NARA...

“Cover Coughs, Cover Sneezes” – NARA – 514081 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been feeling under the weather again this week, which may or may not be left over infection from last week when to be honest I was glad I’d booked the days after New Years as holidays.

This started me thinking about why I seem to get colds, sore throats and so on so regularly, I thought maybe I wasn’t healthy enough, maybe it was bad diet.  The answer isn’t pleasant, it’s shop customers.  Or rather the customers who come in coughing, sneezing and spluttering and leaving germs on my door handles.

When I cash-up I have to go and wash my hands afterwards because of the grubby feeling they’re left with, I know many people who do the same.  I know many people who work in shops and supermarkets who also fall ill regularly.

Working with the public is a minefield of potential contagious illnesses coughed across the counter or handed to you on cash handled by unwashed hands from the last time they went to the loo.  If you worried about it too much it would make you run from behind the counter in search of hand sanitizer – which is handy stuff to have around but doesn’t stop the sneezes, though you could throw it at someone who does fire contamination in your direction, and don’t get me started on the number of people who cough all over you without covering their mouths, as a lady in the shop today told me happened on a recent train journey, the cougher being the conductor.

At the other end of the scale are people who obsess about having every surface 100% bacteria free, being told by adverts that there are more on a chopping board than toilet seats, that if they don’t use all these products they’re putting their kids at risk.  It’s true that you need to be careful with raw food and so on, just follow some basic rules and you’ll be fine, it is now even believed that excessive cleaning and removing all contact with bacteria could be detrimental to health.

The most ridiculous thing I’ve seen though are automatic handwash dispensers, again advertised as being essential for your family’s health.  The adverts say that handwash pumps are riddled with bacteria and every time you touch one you get infected.  True, but it’s handwash, you’re using what you’ve just pumped into your hand to wash off the bacteria you’ve just wiped onto your hand.  If you’re in a public toilet using either kind of handwash dispenser though you’re probably about to then pull open the door using the handle that the person who didn’t wash their hands has just used.  Which brings me back to my counter, my cash and my cold.