Thursday, December 22, 2011

While I have Your Attention....

Yeah, I probably ruined a lot of fun for a lot of people with yesterday's post about germs and cookies and throwing away any food my students give me.   I'm kind of sorry.  I think some people are really sad now.

If you're like my mother, you read it, made that noise with your tongue, said to yourself "I raised a nutcase you can't get sick from eating someone's cookies, now knock it off" and carried on with your cookie baking, pretzel dipping and peppermint bark cracking and gave everyone your cesspool of germs in a bag and wished them a Merry Christmas.

If, like me, you have now added OTHER PEOPLE'S BAKED GOODS to your list of things you won't touch with a 10 foot pole, I have something else to share.

Serving spoons and thongs.

I thought about this  long and hard the last time I was at a meeting where we had a buffet.  I happen to really like rolls and don't hesitate to eat them whole-heartedly once a month at our American Business Women's Association meeting.  But, as many restaurants do, they have a big basket of rolls, with a pair of thongs to get a roll.  Presumably so that you will not touch anyone else's roll with your filthy fingers as you get your own.

Now, I don't know about you, but I always wash my hands before coming anywhere near food .  ALWAYS.  Or I use Purell, if I can't find soap.  You could be the first person I see after being stuck in a cave for weeks and eating nothing but peppermints I found in my bag and if you offered me food, the first thing I'd need is clean hands, or forget it. 

I've had this affliction as long as I can remember.  I vividly remember washing my hands for supper and pulling out my chair with my wrists so as to  not infect myself with my germs from my own chair at the supper table.

If I can't get to soap or Purell, I use the bag the food comes in and hold the bag with my dirty hands while eating the sandwich or crackers or whatever. 

Don't even ask me about eating unwashed fruit.

I've been known to eat French fries or cookies down to where my fingers are holding them and then throw that part away.

I know, I am nuts.  They have doctors for people like me.  I am aware of it and can't help and I'm not looking to stop it, so it's all OK, right?

But, I am so rarely sick, it must work. I have used FOUR, count them, 4 sick days in my 16 years of teaching and 2 of them were for k-ster when he had his foot operated on and I had to cater to his every whim keep an eye on him for the first day.  So rarely am I sick and I see how many kids per day in my classroom?

Germaphobe, yes, but fairly healthy, yes ma'am.

Back to today's lesson.  So, I was getting myself a roll or 6, about to use the thongs (wait, is it tongs?  I'm talking about the grabby things you use to get food off a plate or off the grill, not the butt flossing underwear so many people wear these days...) and I realized something. 

If I reached in the basket to get a roll, I might brush a roll or two with my fingers.  I might. Or I might not.  And my hands have been sterilized prior to stepping in line, so it would hardly matter. 

But, by touching the thongs/tongs that EVERY person ahead of me has touched, people who have not gone near soap since lunch time, I have now touched far more germs than I would have possibly had on my roll if one person happened to touch mine while they were getting their own. 

So, I didn't grab the thongs/tongs, I reached and picked out my own roll, being especially careful not to touch anyone else's roll.  No one said a word or raised an eyebrow.

And this got me thinking about the serving spoons ahead of me.  Surely I am not going to reach my hands in and scoop out some rice, bare handed, and then grab a piece of meat, bare handed.  So, I had to touch all of the nasty handles ahead of me.  And then made sure I didn't touch my food with my hands.

You know I went back and washed my hands prior to eating my rolls. 

Here's the moral of my story. This holiday season, keep an eye on what you're touching.  Think ahead for your guests who have to share serving spoons.

I'm not a fan of Purell.  I happen to think it's a curse and is used way too liberally and is adding to the mayhem of our antibiotic resistant strains of bacterias, but in a pinch, I will use it.  I'm not recommending placing the bottle of Purell on the table alongside the servingware.

Perhaps you could be so kind as to place those disposable (I know, ME?? Recommending disposable anything????  In this case, absolutely) large napkins in your bathroom, near the sink, to encourage hand washing.  Because if I have to dry my hands on the same towel that everyone else dried their hands on....

I rest my case. 

And you can all have a rip snorting laugh when my next post is about how I contracted typhoid for Christmas.


  1. crap... one more thing to worry about. Merry Christmas!

  2. I'm glad your word 'thongs' became thongs/tongs in the latter part of your essay. Down here in the Mid-Atlantic states the word to be used would have been tongs. I was thinking it was a New England term for the grabby things. Happy Holidays.

  3. I am still confused over the word. It's definitely pronounced tongs, but I think it's written thongs. I actually think it's written thongues but that just look ridiculous.

    There is something New Englandy about thongs/tongs though. I remember always calling the shoes flip flops, but some cousins from the Worcester area called them thongs. When I was little, no one had any idea that thongs were underwear, but some people called flip flops that. Then I remember some people calling the shoes tongs. I also remember a teacher in my building calling the shoes thongs about 5 years ago, and people went bananas. Kids were trying to get him in trouble for saying "thongs" in class when he was just from the same area my cousins were that called them thongs, so I knew exactly what he meant.

    I could probably just go look this up and get the whole thing over with!


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