Handling handshake germs

Handshakes bother me.  They bother me when they’re too limp, they bother me when they’re too hard, and they especially bother me when people are germy.

I’m no germaphobe.  I don’t go running away from germs.  But at the same time, I know my immune system won’t fight off a lot of what it should, so I try to be careful.  I wash my hands thoroughly (when I remember) and I try to wear gloves on the train in the winter.  So many times I have seen someone cough into their hand, then use that hand to grab the pole on the T.  WHY?!?  Weren’t you taught any manners?  Would it be so hard to use your other hand, or to cough into the crook of your elbow?  It’s the main reason I try not to hold the pole.

But handshakes are so much worse.  They’re part of our culture, and in some situations they’re almost impossible to avoid.  I was at a social gathering with a friend a few days ago, and every time my friend introduced me to someone, they offered their hand.  I had to shake.  But with the many colds and flus going around, I wasn’t happy about it.  I washed my hands as soon as I got home.  At least it wasn’t an event with food.  Think about all of those parties or networking events where you shake hands with dozens of strangers, then pick up your little appetizer with your fingers.  Germs!  I don’t mind it too much in the summer, but with the flu going around….

I don’t avoid all human contact.  I hug my friends, play with my nieces and nephews, and take my chances on public places.  I don’t feel the need to wash my hands every time I get home from the outside world.  But at the same time, I’ll do whatever I can to avoid the stomach flu that’s going around.  I just wish everyone else would do the same.  Wash your hands, please.  Do it for more than 5 seconds (20 seconds is the medical recommendation, but most people don’t do that.)  And if you’re germy, buck the social norm and just don’t shake hands.  The rest of us will appreciate it.  And those of us with crappy immune systems will be especially grateful.  Trust me.


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