Thoughts Akimbo

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Dishing the dirt on germy jobs

Which has more germs, a woman’s purse or a man’s wallet? Hint: Which gender leaves their public restrooms cleaner?

A study by the good people at Clorox found men’s wallets are dirtiest. Why this information is important, nobody can say. But now we know that it’s safer for a woman to carry her lunch sandwich in her purse than it is for a man to carry his lunch — perhaps a crepe or a tortilla? — in his wallet.

The study also indicates, to the astute reader, that Clorox doesn’t have quite enough to do these days, since people stopped bleaching their white cotton shirts in favor of just throwing them away. Or wearing white polyester shirts. Or not wearing white at all.

So they’re hoping to sell more disinfectant wipes by reminding us about The Filthy World We Live In, where surfaces are teeming with unfriendly microscopic critters who’d like nothing better than to take up permanent residence in your lower intestine, since they used to live in someone else’s lower intestine and they miss the old ‘hood.

Their study also says that teachers have the germiest jobs. Kindergarten teachers have to wipe all those germy little noses all day. And even older students aren’t reliable hand washers. The sinks in the high school’s student restrooms are practically unused, although the mirrors get quite a workout.

The next most germy jobs are accounting and banking. That’s because money is bad for you, like most enjoyable things. It’s touched by too many hands. Like most enjoyable things. And it spends too much time in men’s wallets, next to the folded tortillas.

This is another good reason to apply for more credit cards, especially that new VISA Ultra Premium Chromium with the built-in sanitizer strip that cleans and freshens as it deodorizes.

Even tollbooth workers now wear latex gloves to fight the cumulative effect of money grime. To help them, I like to wipe down my tollbooth quarters with a Clorox disinfectant wipe. You should see how surprised and grateful they look when I hand them damp money.

Doctors have germy jobs, because their jobs are to do combat with germs. If you ever find yourself in a doctor’s waiting room, don’t touch anything. Seriously. Sit with your fingertips of your right hand touching the matching fingertips of your left, which will keep you from inadvertently reaching for the germ-encrusted Hi-Lights Magazine in a moment of absent-minded boredom. (This finger-matching thing works when you’re waiting for your nails to dry, too. You’ll go crazy, but you’ll remain unsmudged.)

Journalists aren’t mentioned in the news report about the Clorox study. I can only conclude this is because some journalist wrote that report. Because we in the newspaper business know there’s nothing scarier — or more microbially deadly — than that one desk in the newsroom.

It’s the desk covered with yellowed front pages that mention hotly contested elections involving candidates who were imprisoned for election fraud more than a decade ago. The desk that always smells like armpits or onions, maybe both. The desk stuffed with old bags from Burger Prince, back before he took the throne.

The chair is draped with a raincoat so shabby, it can embarrass itself without exposing any naked body parts. The “In Box” is some ill-defined area piled with crumpled napkins and old pay stubs showing a minimum wage of $1.45 an hour.

On top of this mess is balanced a coffee cup that hadn’t been washed since it arrived to announce the opening of the new Beepers & More store, which burned down in the ’90s and was replaced by a We’ll Sell It For You on eBay store.

It’s going to take a fire hose and a haz-mat suit to reclaim that area some day, when the reporter who works there moves on to a bigger paper.

Unless he already has. Come to think of it, nobody’s seen him for a couple of weeks.

I’m going to go check under that raincoat, as soon as I find my disinfectant wipes.


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