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Are You a Germophobe?

November 9, 2016

This election has made many of us sicker than if we’d eaten at a Chipotle or been bitten by a rabid dog, but this post focuses on a different type of illness.


The gym where I work out has spray bottles and cloths to wipe down sweaty machines after use. I do most of my sweating in the aerobics room not the weight room, but I always make a point of wiping down my machines anyway. I don’t mind doing so because using a machine dripping with someone else’s sweat is unpleasant.


This post was prompted by a middle-aged lady at my gym who takes this to the extreme. When she arrives, she wipes down ALL the machines before starting her workout, even machines I’ve just vacated and already wiped down. At first, I thought she worked at the gym and it was her job to wipe down the machines, but she isn’t an employee. I even joked, telling her she did fabulous work and inquiring what she’d charge to do my windows. She wasn’t amused. Her expression dripped with piss and vinegar, which incidentally makes a terrific disinfectant.


I’ve known a few germophobes in my life, people who wash their hands dozens of times a day. We used to socialize with a couple who had two young daughters whose bare feet were not allowed to touch the floor, not even in their own immaculate house. Our relationship with these folks ended when they visited our house and saw our four year old running around the house barefoot. They also thought our home germ infested because we owned a dog.


Some parents, in order to protect their children from microscopic intruders, invoke the five second rule when food drops to the floor. It’s my belief that only parents follow this rule. I can assure you that when I was a kid if I dropped a Hershey bar I’d eat it even if it fell days earlier.


Scientists tell us that, in most instances, we don’t do our children any favors by keeping them away from germs. Humans evolved in a stew of germs and bacteria and our bodies have evolved to tolerate most bacteria and germs. In fact, germs and bacteria aid our bodily functions, which wouldn’t work effectively without them. One of my favorite passages in literature comes from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds:


From the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed. They were undone, destroyed, after all of man's weapons and devices had failed, by the tiniest creatures that God in his wisdom put upon this earth. By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet's infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges. For neither do men live nor die in vain.


I don’t waste much time thinking about germs. What about you? Do you wash your hands a dozen times a day? Are you a germophobe?









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I don't worry about it, certainly not to the extent of a Howard Hughes or Howie Mandel. I think I read somewhere that science debunked the five second rule. Anyway, you know what they say: whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
By: PT Dilloway on November 9, 2016
Nope, I don't worry. Whatever is gonna kill me, is gonna kill me. I save my worrying for more important stuff!
By: Linda Morris on November 9, 2016
I think we are encouraged to take cleanliness to the extreme there by weakening our defenses! I am with you with the Hershey Bar!
By: John Gibson on November 9, 2016
I think someone needs to spray the Republican party with disinfectant. I see germs spreading all over the country. Could just be me though. So sad.
By: Michael Offutt on November 9, 2016
I do wash my hands frequently, but I'm not crazy about being anti-germs. Our house is clean but certainly not sanitized. Your dog would be welcome.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on November 9, 2016
Washing your hands is the best way to avoid getting a cold or the flu, so I do that. But not with antibacterial soap. That just encourages drug-resistant bacteria.
By: Tom Sightings on November 9, 2016
I wash normal times like after toilet and before preparing or eating food. Now I will take a different aisle in a store if I hear someone hacking up a lung in the one I was headed for. Guess that makes me a semi-phobe.
By: Arkansas Patti on November 9, 2016
Like Patti, I avoid lung hacking germs, but otherwise they are all over, avoidance might just lower resistance. I heard that many doctors believe the peanut allergy so common and dangerous these days to young children is the result of young children not being allowed peanut butter where they would ordinary develop a resistance to the allergy.
By: cranky on November 9, 2016
Not a germophobe, i let my kids play in the dirt and get immunity the old fashioned way. Yes, i believe in washing my hands before i eat or after i handle something yucky, but no one will every call me a neat freak.
By: messymimi on November 9, 2016
I suppose I have become more germ conscious because of my several bouts with pneumonia. But heck the grands bring it all home anyway.
By: Oma Linda on November 9, 2016
Well, what a question you ask! My wife and daughters think I use too much hand sanitizer. I do use those wipes offered at stores where you pick up a basket or cart and they seem appreciative of that. Here's a confession-When I was a kid I rode my tricycle with a wet wash cloth draped over the handle bars. Why? because other kids, with whom I shared my trike, often rode it with sticky hands from ice cream bars or popsicles or lunch or who knows what. I hated sticky hand grips, so after they dismounted, I used the wet cloth and rode happily along. My mother thought I was a bit odd for doing that. So, there you have it....
By: Tom Cochrun on November 9, 2016
I'm not sure if I'm a germaphobe but I am mindful. I don't touch bathroom doors. R
By: Rick Watson on November 9, 2016
If you could see my three-cat house you wouldn't even need to ask this question! Actually when our kids were very little I was more concerned, but not over the top. It makes sense to wash after bathroom visits and before food prep and eating. I also try to avoid touching my eyes or nose with unwashed hands in cold and flu season - those are the entry points for bugs so a person can avoid a lot of misery with a little handwashing.
By: jenny_o on November 9, 2016
I live with a germophobe. It's hell. It's a characteristic of obsessive compulsive disorder. Opening doors with your elbows?using kleenex in your had to open and close doors? constantly watching those around you and what they might have? You get it!
By: red Kline on November 9, 2016
I am not a germophobe, per se, but speaking of public use of friend used to go to a tanning salon and she obtained a bacterial infection that gives her spots on her skin (kind of like age spots but the spots are white and all over her chest and back). She will forever have to take medication so the spots don't come back. Knowing this, I wholeheartedly agree with your work-out acquaintance to wipe the equipment down so you don't get somebody else's funk. Better to be safer than sorry. Just my two cents.
By: STL Fan on November 9, 2016
I gave my young 'un a chewy chocolate chip granola bar after it fell on the concrete floor of the garage where our five cats hung out. He cried for it. Not a new one. THAT one. He showed no ill effects. I wash my hands after playing with the dogs, because they are dogs. They lick their privates (and others dogs' privates) and roll on dead things. I use hand sanitizer after the Walmart shopping, and avoid sneezers and hackers. But I don't think I'm a germophobe.
By: Val on November 9, 2016
I am no germaphobe. I figure I'm exposed to so much when out and about that I'm not even aware of that I'm just not going to worry about what I AM aware of. Usually. However, if a scrap of food falls on my cafe table, I won't pick it up and eat it. And, if something drops on the floor, no five-second rule for me, right into the trash it goes. I do have some other issues I deal with and am grateful germs are not a major problem for me. (Although I sometimes wonder when a stranger offers me his hand to shake... Where has that hand been?)
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 10, 2016
nope- not a germaphobe! My kids played in the dirt and ran barefoot- and before bed had a good long cleansing bath!
By: Kathe W. on November 10, 2016
i love it even more what you said to that lady. I bet my bottom dollar that she suffers from not only from OCD but has some other mental health issues. Some of them can be so rude and nasty. i don't fuss too much at all. i do have the hand sanitizer in my office but that's because I deal with clients who can be quite icky. (one had bugs on their money!). When I was a kid, I always was barefoot, played in the sawdust pile and sat with my dog in the doghouse...I'm still kicking:)
By: Birgit on November 10, 2016
Couldn't agree more. We have a dog, I like the windows open when it's nice out, etc. Yes, I bathe daily, brush 2 or more times a day, wash hands as needed, but I'm not obsessed with it. Kids who are not exposed to worldly germs grow up to be intolerant of just about everything, and that's sad.
By: scott park on November 11, 2016
I'm very clean in the kitchen (you won't get salmonella in my house), clean in the bathroom, and average everywhere else. When I notice someone didn't wipe down the gym equipment after they used it, I'll wipe it down before I use it and after I get done with it. But only the stuff I'll use - not everything, like your gym lady. I bet she suffers from OCD - with "suffer" being the operative word.
By: Pixel Peeper on November 12, 2016
Some folks love to roll in the mud... I believe it's a spa treatment. So ya... get naked and walk around the house. Expose yourself... you'll be stronger for it. lol
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 12, 2016
My mother always worries about germs and bacteria. If you sneeze, you're sick. If the wind blows and you don't have a hat, you'll get sick. If meat isn't cooked well done, that will make you sick. We could line the insides of our shoes with her steaks and play hockey with her pork chops. She takes hand sanitizer to the enth degree. I believe a few germs are good for you so you can imagine the arguements we have.
By: Bee BB Bee on November 14, 2016
I hardly ever even think about it - & when I DO think about it I can't be bothered to worry very much. I do wash my hands after using the bathroom though :)
By: The Bug on November 16, 2016

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