Search This Blog

Friday, February 24, 2012

If You See Something, Say Something

Before you read on, stop for a moment and look at your hands. Are they clean? Now think back to the last time you washed them. Are they really clean? Are they sanitary? Would you go to your kitchen right now and make a sandwich, touching the bread, meat, cheese, plate and utensils without washing your hands first? Your answer should be “No, I would like to wash them again!" Since the last time I used the restroom and then washed my hands, I have touched my computer keyboard and mouse, my hair and face, at least two doorknobs, the oven handle and a dishtowel in my kitchen, and pushed my glasses up on my nose at least twice. Not so clean now.

Food borne illnesses are far more common than you think. How many times have you eaten and then had some sort of unpleasant gastro-intestinal episode afterwards? Have you ever had food poisoning? Maybe you’ve had an e. coli or salmonella infection and didn’t know it, or maybe you did know. Chances are you’ve had a bad experience with a restaurant that you refuse to ever visit again.

Next time you have the chance and feel like being grossed out, do what I just did - a search on your computer about how many illnesses you can contract from food. Many of them are due to poor food handling such as cross-contamination and improper cooking/cooling/holding temperatures and procedures. The rest of them could have been prevented if the food handler had washed their hands after using the restroom.

The reason that this is on my mind right now is that I recently visited a restaurant that I eat at pretty regularly. Before eating, I stopped in the restroom to wash my hands. While I stood at the sink doing that, I witnessed one of the waitresses walk out of the stall and straight out the door without washing her hands. She also pulled the door handle without using a paper towel, as I always do in public washrooms. I cannot imagine how many disgusting little germs she took with her to pass on to her poor, unsuspecting customers.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen this happen in a restaurant - or in any public restroom for that matter. We’ve all seen it, we’re all (almost all, I suppose) pretty disgusted by it, but what are we going to do about it? I told the restaurant manager what I saw, and since the young woman gave me dirty looks every time she passed through the dining room (I still ate there, but requested a different waitress), I feel confident that the manager addressed it with her right away.

I have been told that I should have not said anything, just left and eaten elsewhere, and minded my own business. Really? Because it IS my business. What if someone got sick that day because of that young woman? If I get e. coli or salmonella poisoning (the two most common illnesses you can contract from food preparers who haven’t washed their hands after using the restroom) I’m going to get pretty sick. Diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, all kinds of fun stuff, but survivable. But the elderly and small children are much more likely to get very sick and are far more likely to DIE from these illnesses.

That’s right…DEAD, forever, because some disgusting pig couldn’t take a MINUTE out of their life to wash their hands. That should be everyone’s business. Would you stop someone from bullying a kid or pushing around a grandmother? Then you should say something when you see someone putting innocent people at risk for DEATH.

That is why we still see those signs in public bathrooms: EMPLOYEES MUST WASH THEIR HANDS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK. Why do we still need to remind people of this (not that it always does any good) in this day and age, with all we know about how important hand washing is, with every parent in America running around with a mini bottle of hand sanitizer in their purses and back pockets? Why is this still an issue with people? How can you not know that you need to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom? What more do we have to do to get through to people? I don’t know what else to say. Just please wash your hands, teach your kids to wash their hands, and if you see a food handler skip the soap and water, say something.