It was one thing to learn in high school biology about germs but another to practice that understanding in everyday life. But then we rarely ever connect everyday life with what we study, right? At one extreme end is how we struggle with the idea that there is no rising or setting of the sun because it is so difficult to get those gut instincts and language out. It is as if all that schooling made no difference at all ;)
So, yes, the germ theory in daily hygiene. When on the road, for that all important pit-stop, as you can imagine, it is one hell of a torture to figure out a place that will be the least uncomfortable for me. I have always wondered whether it is we men who mess up the public restrooms or whether women are also from Mars.
You can, therefore, understand why even years later I continue to be impressed with a public restroom that I used in Kawakawa, New Zealand. I mean, I even felt guilty that I was using that. You would too, if you ever go there. It was this:
This was one stall. The entire public restroom area was like one awesome art/architecture piece. Here was the only public restroom where I didn't have to worry about hygiene issues. I was worried that my pee would contaminate the place ;)
In all other places, yes, you too should be smart about using them. Because those damn bacteria wait for us to make a mistake or two:
what makes it dangerous isn't where you pick [the bacteria] up; it's how that bacteria could stay on your hands and then — if you don't thoroughly wash your hands — maybe get onto your food or into your eyes.Wash your damn hands. Isn't that what your grandmothers always yelled at you? Sometimes with that "damn" as well?
In particular, skin bacteria run rampant in bathrooms because germs that usually live on the skin can survive for long periods of time on inanimate surfaces. Staph and strep bacteria can be transmitted from skin and are most commonly found in places your hands touch, while gut bacteria are (understandably) most dense on toilets. Floors have more bacteria from soil than other places do and are a sneaky spot from which germs spread. Research has found that some women's purses carried large amounts of bacteria after people had set them down on a public bathroom floor.Did you get that, dear female readers? Cradle your purses like they are your most precious belongings ;)
Whether it is in the restroom, or in my office, what it is important is not where you picked up the bacteria, but "whether you give it a good chance of making you sick."
Go wash your hands already!