One of the first things I mentally filed in the Ooh, that’s different folder upon moving to Texas was the universal presence of hand sanitizer dispensers. I’m not talking about the stuff in bathrooms; I’m talking about the walk-up dispenser I see every morning just inside the front doors of my workplace. Then there are the same dispensers next to the grocery carts (for quick cart handle cleaning) and standing by pharmacy counters. Pharmacy counters are especially attentive – if they don’t have a standing dispenser, they have a communal pump bottle by the register.
I see people pump the dispensers with a fierce absentmindedness, similar to the way other people slap the button for the automatic door. (“BITCH,” they say when it doesn’t work immediately.*)
One of the first things my boss gave me at work? A bottle of pink hand sanitizing goop. Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer, Spring Bloom (Spring Bloom equals pink, I guess. It still smells terrible), Kills 99.99% of Germs, Moisturizers & Vitamin E Leave Hands Feeling Soft & Refreshed. Sometimes I use it to clean my desk. I don’t like the stuff; I hate the feel of it, the smell drives me mad, and I don’t like the idea of it, although I have no clue whether there’s any hard science on that last part to back me up. But even if it does lower your immune system’s ability to fight germs** I should probably still use it. Why?
1) I have no immune system anyway. My body needs every line of defense it can get, mostly because:
2) Things don’t die here. I’m not referring to our country’s retirees, and anyway, everyone knows they all live in Florida. Germs, molds, shit like that – it thrives down here because of the year-round warm temperatures. My part of the state is a haven for allergens and crap because of its particular geological features. But basically? Here’s an example: I’d never heard of cellulitis until my mom contracted it during a short hospital stay. Here you can pick it up on the bus (as I did, unfortunately. It was part of my summer’s Infection-and-Antibiotic-Injection-a-Month schedule) or at the gym or at work. You can also pick up staph infections at the gym and other public places; one of my coworkers was out a week. Naturally I plugged my nose and broke out the Purell.
Maybe I’m just sheltered and this happens everywhere. Perhaps with the last few years’ panicky preparations for a Killer Flu Pandemic, the public hand sanitizer has become more prevalent in the rest of the nation, as opposed to where I’m used to seeing it: campgrounds, some bathrooms, and outdoor concerts. You really can get a staph infection anywhere, probably, and antibiotics are fast losing their potency as bacteria mutate. Look at MRSA. Gah. Don’t. My immune system cringes just clicking on that link, and there aren’t even any pictures. But now I miss the cold and snow from my home state for more reasons.
I guess I don’t have much of a point, apart from the inveterate (I want to move back north) but I do think my disease is a lot more apparent down here. I don’t have multitudes of dirty habits, but I touch my face, I pick my nose,*** I rub my eyes, and I cover my mouth when I yawn or snigger at someone. Okay, I wash my hands a lot, but I’m not the poster child for Germ Free Living, and I should be if I don’t want a ass-shot of anniebiotics every time I sniffle.
So I’ll give in. I’ll try not to touch my face so much – and, um, that other stuff. I’ll keep Spring Bloom by my desk and use it more often.
But it stinks and I hate it.
* Multiple occasions! It’s a serious insult, apparently.
** Again. No links to hard science here, folks, I’m manifesting an old wives’ tale.
*** THAT’S GROSS. And anyway I only did it once, before I knew better and became an adult who is able to cook and drive and think. ONLY ONCE. WOULD I LIE?