The average human touches his face 2-5 times per minute. If we assume that each touch lasts 1 second, that means the average person spends 5% of their life with their filthy fingers mushing germs around their mucus membranes. I have allergies, so I probably spend at least 10% of my time rubbing my grubby fingers into my eyes, nose, and ears. This knowledge inspires a heightened grossness response when combined with the knowledge of how disgusting the things we touch can be.
When I was in college, I did a study on the cleanliness of various bathroom fixtures in public places. Turns out that the toilet itself is pretty clean in most public bathrooms. The toilet paper dispenser, flusher, and various other surfaces in a bathroom stall are not so bad either. The faucet is filthy. The door handle also pretty bad. Washing your hands does a good job of removing some grossness, but does nothing to remove most of the terrible things I found living on the faucet. My conclusion: washing your hands in a public bathroom is actually worse than not washing (for you; and for the bathroom, but not for society; it’s an externality).
Most public bathrooms now have automatic faucets that you don’t have to touch (I like to take some undeserved credit for that). So washing your hands is now a real net positive. My bathroom at work is probably the cleanest place in the office. It is professionally cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day. Everything is automatic. And they still have antimicrobial soap and hand sanitizer in case you erroneously touch any already sanitized surface. This enables us to return from our restroom trips completely sterile and return our fingers to what they spend the other 95% of our day touching: the single filthiest object ever created by humankind.
My. Keyboard. Is. Disgusting. Every key is in a contest to be the grossest thing on Earth and is losing only to the beige-blue fuzz that grows in between the keys. Close behind is the mysterious granular material that lines the surface underneath the keys, which I think is the petrified crumbs of 4 years’ worth of $5 foot-longs, cemented by hand-sweat and conference call spittle into a kind of sedimentary grime-rock.
And once a week, my nasty fingers leave my repulsive keyboard to smear themselves all over a bunch of poker chips, joined by the putrid finger smears of several other vile keyboard pounders in this city. I am willing to wager that NONE of the keyboards or poker chips in this foul convergence has ever been cleaned and disinfected since its sordid inception.
Until today. OK, I realize it is possibly the worst poker theme I have ever thought up, but poker this week will be “sanitary.” The chips have been washed, and everyone gets hand wipes before you play (but after you hand over your slimy money). Alcohol is a disinfectant, so we are good there. The table will be cleaned. The cards will be new in-package. The conversation, however, will be as dirty as ever. So come down to a sparkly-clean [———], at 8pm. RSVP so I know how many pairs of nitrile gloves to buy.