Don't Touch That Grocery Cart Handle!

When I have a little time, I like to scroll through the top news stories at  Now I wish I hadn't.

AARP did a study of the eight things you should never touch, and lemon wedges were right up there at the top of the list.   The article says you should never use lemons in a restaurant.  Request your drink naked, it said.  But I live on iced tea and drinking that without a lemon would be like, well, french fries without ketchup.  Pizza without cheese.  Romeo without Juliet.  You get my drift.

The article said that the reason lemon wedges are so dicey is because of all the people who don't wash their hands and then touch the food.  (Scary fact: only 15% of people wash their hands correctly after using the rest room.)

On average, an adult can touch as many as 30 objects within a minute, including germ-harboring, high-traffic surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs, phone receivers and remote controls, according to AARP.

And you don't have to be a germ-o-phobe, especially in these days of lethal infectious diseases. 

I used to laugh at Donald Trump for not shaking hands.  But now, whenever I do, I try to get to a sink as quickly as possible and wash my hands.  I carry wipes in the car for those grocery store cart handles.

Now, before you start thinking I'm totally insane, here's one I never thought of.  Do you know the dirtiest thing in a restaurant?  It's not those soiled rags they use sometimes to wipe the table.  Or the floors (now, how many times do you eat off those -- not counting the 5-second rule!).  It's the menus.

Have you ever seen anyone wash a menu? Probably not, says the AARP.  A study recently reported that cold and flu viruses can survive for 18 hours on hard surfaces. If it's a popular restaurant, hundreds of people could be handling the menus — and passing their germs on to you. Never let a menu touch your plate or silverware, and be sure to wash your hands after you place your order.

Okay, I'm not so sure I'd go that far.  But still.

And what about condiment dispensers.  How many times do you think restaurants wash out ketchup containers?  If your guess is never, you're on.  They can harbor germs from the people who touched it before -- and didn't wash their hands after using the rest room.  So while you may be diligent, the guy who poured the ketchup before you may not have been, which means his germs are now on your fingers — and your fries. Squirt hand sanitizer on the outside of the condiment bottle or use a disinfectant wipe before you grab it.

Again, maybe not so much.

It's enough to make you never want to eat in a restaurant again.  Another germy no-no?  This one's kind of obvious.  Rest room door handles.  I used to think the people who used paper towels to grab the handles were a little neurotic.  Now I do it, too. 

Then there's soap dispensers (dirty hands again, using them); of course, shopping cart handles (you don't want to know what's on them); movie seats; airplane bathrooms, and finally, doctor's offices.   Don't touch the magazines, toys or just about anything else, and keep at least two chairs between you and others, if possible (although, in this day of waiting rooms packed like a staidum, it may not be).

My husband, a dentist, never worries about germs. He leaves his toothbrush lying out on the bathroom shelf in a puddle of dried toothpaste.  He eats buckets of berries and fruit and never washes any of it.   And he doesn't wash his hands much, either (at least, at home).  

So is it ever safe to leave the house?  Of course, it is.  You don't have to be as germ-conscious as I am (and I swear I don't know where that came from; when I was growing up, no one washed their hands!).  But it does make sense to wash your hands often during the day.  And don't get suckered into using hand sanitizers instead (though my son, who's never washed his hands a day in his life -- or at least, that's what his fingernails look like -- swears by them; maybe that's where my husband gets it from).  Supposedly, they're leading the way to creating more germs that resist antibiotics. 

The article suggests you take your lemon wedges with you, if you must.  But I think that's a little much.    I guess I'll stick to my iced tea with lemon, and take my chances.  And maybe cut out the cheese on my pizza.



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