Swine Flu Panic: A Useful Hand-Washing Guide

by prash on 30 Apr 2009

Now we may or may not have a swine-flu epidemic on our hands. But one thing’s for sure: we have a “swine-flu-panic” epidemic raging all over the place. Not to be outdone, my company has swallowed the cleanliness kool-aid by the gallon and the results are staggering.

First of all every sink now has a Purel hand-sanitizing solution beside it, which is weird if you come to think about it because the door leading out the restroom has had a Purel wall-dispenser next to it for years. So what was already a complicated process of washing your hands, wiping your hands, opening the door and quickly sanitizing your hands before jumping out to avoid the closing door €¦ just got even more ridiculous.

You see, the new office has touchless sinks, touchless soap-dispensers and to top it off €¦ touchless paper-towel dispensers as well. This means only thing: parents who want to teach their kids the Elmo song usually visit our company restrooms first: You put your left hand in, You put your left hand out, You put your left hand in and You shake it all about (but no €“ you won€™t get any soap even after all the hand-wringing in front of the minuscule sensor). Of course, once you finally decide to give up and start to wash your hands without soap, the dispenser will be happy to squirt some soap all over your shirt-sleeve. At this points, most parents are advised to close their kids€™ ears while certain choice words are yelled out in frustration. Then the drying process begins and it€™s no different: same Elmo song and even more vigorous movements but no paper. The good news is that all the hand-wringing has dried your hands already and you don€™t really need the paper anyway. Infact, I think the company already knows this and has stopped refilling the paper-roll for weeks now.

In swine flu panic mode, however, the process involves using the Purel by the sink as well and we are still trying to figure out if that is before the hand washing, or if it€™s after the hand-washing but before the hand-drying, or if it€™s after the hand-drying but before using the other Purel by the door. One employee, unable to take this decision-making promptly threw the sink-side Purel into the trash. Problem solved.

But nothing could have ever prepared us for the signs, and oh yes, you better believe there are signs €¦ All over the place. €œCover your mouth when you sneeze€, €œWash your hands after you eat€, €œSneeze into your arm-pits€ (yeah I don€™t get that last one either)€¦

One particular sign about hand-washing is so useful it would be remiss if I didn’t share it with the entire world (click to enlarge):


For me, especially, this is invaluable information, because this is how I used to wash my hands earlier (it helps to follow along with the steps above to realize how wrong I had been all these years):

  1. I always consider the sink to be very sanitary. I have been known to take a couple of licks of the shiny spout now and then.
  2. I usually run my hand all over the sink admiring the wonderful workmanship – sometimes I use both hands and give it a good rub-down just because I feel like it.
  3. The third point above confuses me because I have always wet my hands and wrists before I turn the water on – probably because of my bad aim but that’s another story (and I can’t use a paper towel anyway because the company hasn’t filled the dispenser in weeks – have you been paying any attention at all?!)
  4. Don’t even get me started on the soap.
  5. With the new touchless systems, the only vigorous movements I am used to are frantic efforts to get any soap and water at all.
  6. Stream? I thought we use the sink – we have a stream now? Is it touchless too??? And my elbows will feel so left out of the washing process if I don’t squat and point my fingers upwards while I wash my hands as I am used to doing (try it – it is almost like doing yoga while you wash your hands).
  7. When I am done I usually look for a used, wet paper towel because I am green like that. Looks like the author of this guide wants me to ruin the environment by using a clean, dry paper towel. What a tree-hating whale-killer!

Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for the wonderful ways in which I am educated – even if it to relearn something I was taught when I was 3.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Asha January 16, 2010 at 16:02

Holding my tummy laughing.


G February 21, 2010 at 22:57

Well this is the same country where a box of salted peanuts contains an allergy warning saying may contain nuts.


Sushma June 24, 2010 at 01:12

Hahahaha! Glad i discovered you 🙂 Will be dropping in more often for my daily dose of snickers (while my colleagues wonder what the mad woman in cubicle 4 is up to, as usual).


prash September 8, 2010 at 16:24

Asha, G, Sushma,
Thanks for the comments! Heartening to know I am not the only reader of my blog 🙂


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