Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Hand sanitizer, handy wipes, disinfecting cleaners, hand washing until the hands are raw. I AM SANITIZED.

Yes, there is an epidemic. Germaphobia has taken over the world. Furnace filters are changed often, air purifiers hum, counter tops are scrubbed and, as one friend told me, door knobs are washed daily. We use hand sanitizer when we exit the car before entering stores and use it again when we get back into the car making sure that any parts of the hands that were previously missed might be purified once more.

"Please wash your hands," the first words out of my mouth when the girls come to my house after school.
Of course, I envision the school crawling with germs before I even enter the portal. "Did you throw up?" the secretary asks the child. My eyes widen as I make my way out of the office. As Gabby looks for places to sit and eat lunch with her friends, I look for a spot with no children coughing or sniffling. We are an age of germaphobia.

It’s a wonder I didn't die from all of the germs that surrounded me on the farm. Mom often took food to the fields where we ate with tobacco sap covered hands, sweat and soil. I know that I rarely washed my hands after playing in the barn petting kittens and the dog...probably even the rabbits and my lamb. Mom had a clean house but dirty farm hands and children piled into the house daily. One glass sat next to the sink all day long. It was a communal glass that we all used when getting a quick drink of water. Mom would often take a sip off of the spoon that stirred the gravy. The list goes on. Remarkably, none of us died. Now we might have had a tummy ache once in awhile, but I think that probably came more from the food kept in the backroom or garage to cool.

No, I survived germs. Haven't had a cold in years. Haven't had the flu in years. Of course, I get sinus infections and have flu shots, but I am a very healthy person. I attribute this incredible good health to the germs that helped me to build up a tolerance for the little devils.

I worry that maybe we are too clean. I worry that fiendish new strains of germs are planning their attack in the hidden crevices of clean. Will the children be strong enough to fight them off? People have lived with germs forever, and mankind has survived. What are we doing to ourselves in this effort to eradicate illness? Are we destroying ourselves?

I have a confession to make. Germs do live in my house. Oh, my house is clean, but not so clean that a few germs can't survive. I refuse to become paranoid chasing these little guys in every corner and on every hand. I cheer the little guys that probably in reality keep me healthier.

However, I do wish that Portland would get onboard as requested by the government covering water sources. Instead Oregonians like to have the beauty of the lakes. I wonder how many enjoyed last week when they were boiling their water.

Germaphobia. I wonder if I should go wash my doorknobs?

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