Sharing the Germs – let’s be considerate

Living in the techno-age brings with it so many different ways to share our germs.  What generosity! What opportunities!  Sounds an awful topic I know, but it is unfortunately very true.

A couple of days ago, in a local supermarket, I noticed a very well-groomed woman walk away from the checkout just before I got there. As she left I saw the cashier use her cloth to wipe the credit card machine buttons.  On saying thank you for her thoughtfulness she said that she had to do it as the woman had sneezed on to her own hand and credit card just before giving it to the cashier and then entering her PIN.  I was rather taken aback as on seeing the woman I would never have thought that she would not have protected herself and others when sneezing.  Having been brought up always to use a tissue (in our younger days a handkerchief) when coughing and sneezing and, if possible, to wash our hands as soon thereafter as possible, this was quite unsettling for me.

I suggested to the cashier that when this sort of thing happens she should deliberately take up her cloth and wipe the card before using it in the machine. Her response was actually a sad reflection on the attitude of so many to those who do tasks which we often act as if they are being done by automatons. She said that if she so much as indicated that the shopper had caused a problem a complaint would probably be laid and she could lose her job.  You know that wonderful saying, “The customer is always right” and should be treated as ‘king’. Many customers do not behave like kings. Some act more like ruffians than royalty writes Rob Kaufman.

This made me think how easily today we press the buttons of ATMs, cell phones, Self-service payment machines etc. etc without ever giving a thought as to who has touched it before or what we ourselves have done in just prior to using these devices. When one goes to the supermarket these days, there are sanitizing cloths for shoppers to wipe the handles of baskets and trolleys and I am surprised as to how many people do not make use of these opportunities, not only to wipe the handles but also their own hands. Just driving my car often leaves my hands really dirty and we all know how dirty money itself can be.

There are dozens of advertisements for germ-killing soap and cleaners as well as disinfectants for the bathroom and kitchen, parents are becoming more and more fanatical about protecting babies and little ones from any germs and many schools have reintroduced lessons on personal hygiene. In contrast, we daily touch screens, buttons and other electronic items which hundreds of others may have used before us. Do they all have clean hands which have not wiped their mouths, or worse, just before using the instrument ? Have you noticed how many parents allow little ones to play with their phones, even put them into their mouths, and yet they ensure that they use all the right products at home?

I have not written this to make us all fanatical about germs ‘around every corner’ but rather that we might be more considerate of one another and most especially those who are not in a position to protect themselves when we commit unpleasant actions. If we want to be ‘King’ out there let’s act as if we deserve it.

 

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