(A newly inspired poem)
Here I sit; who knew to look? Above my head, a handy hook!
Placed up high upon the door, to keep my purse up off the floor.
All these years of soap and lather…who would have thought it didn’t matter?
For germs have hiding places well…no point to stress - just sit a spell!
While most people, once the new year fun has passed, begin making resolutions, I found myself instead, looking backwards, reflecting on things that I learned in 2011. Oddly enough, the first thought that popped into my head was not a profound epiphany, but something simple that I learned from an internet article about public bathroom etiquette that I had never heard before:
When going to a ladies public restroom, instead of depositing your purse on the floor, hang it on the hook provided on the back of the door, as it has been discovered that more “bathroom” germs are found on the floor than are found in the toilet.
I swear…I never noticed that hook before I read the article! Neither did I know that I was coming out of the bathroom more contaminated than I went in! Wow! Go figure!
Finding the proper place for our purses has always been a biggie for us women in a public restroom. Most of my life, I've looked at it from a viewpoint of “safety”, i.e. keeping it close so as not to get stolen by a stranger, or make sure that I have another woman along to hold it. I have always absentmindedly put my purse or diaper bag on the floor, taking precautions against other random germs, clueless that germs were pulling one over on me all along. The news really floored me (no pun intended) when I read the article because I thought that I WAS taking the utmost in precaution! For instance, I have always observed the following rituals:
- Flush with your FOOT rather than your hand
- Cover the seat with the provided paper
- Never touch the lid (not a problem for ladies since in OUR facility we don’t leave it in the UP position)
- Carry baby wipes with you just in case you need them to clean something you might have forgotten
- Even when using those insane blow dryers, use your elbow to turn them off and on
And the poor children that have to go into a public restroom with me have to be scrubbed like a sterile operating room before and after. But the whole time I was taking all these precautions, I had been carrying germs back home with me on the bottom of my purse incognito. Who knew?
For the most part, it is my hope that most women who read this will shake their heads in agreement and get a chuckle, and for some, like me, a new revelation. But there will be those ultra conscientious people that carry Lysol in their purses that will respond with the reprimand that it should have been a no-brainer to look for a hook, or offer the phrase, “Eeeewww! I can’t believe you let your purse touch the dirty floor!”
Well, I have a response for them.
1. First of all – It was the germophobes among us that were responsible for pocket hand sanitizers, which we have now found kills the necessary germs that need to stay on our hands to fight the diseases that we’re trying to avoid in the first place.
2. You are probably a “squatter”, in which case, you may be saving yourself from germs, but in the process mist a few extra microorganisms on the seat for those of us who follow after you.
3. Lastly, even if you avoid "germinating" the bottom of your purse, you carry them out on the bottom of your shoes anyway! So there - didn't know that, did you?
At any rate, NOW I make sure my purse is properly placed on the provided hook rather than feebly attempting to perch it on top of the toilet paper dispenser or absentmindedly dropping it on the floor. I may still have germs on the bottom of my shoes, but at least now I have fewer germs than I did before, and that’s got to count for something. I’ve been hanging up my purse for the better part of 2011, smiling each time I utilize its services, happy to have discovered something new that has proved quite helpful.
So, what is the moral of the story? I don’t know that there is one, but I do know this: I will pay more attention to my surroundings. A bathroom hook is a small, mundane thing that, in the rush to get things done in a hurry, I had overlooked for most of my life. I could have lived the rest of my life without it, but having discovered it makes me aware that I am a little bit safer for knowing it’s there. More importantly, the “small” discovery of this little gadget taught me something much “bigger”. It taught me that no matter how old I get, I’m never too old to learn something new, and those new revelations are sitting out there waiting to be noticed and discovered.
Obviously…I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING.
So, this year, I’m going to pay more attention to the small wonders that I encounter, and to the people around me. What discoveries that I find that are of value, I will share with others, blessing them in the process. But more significantly, I plan to appreciate the fact that I will probably learn more from others than they learn from me, and that will make life all the richer. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a “simple” blessing that beats the heck out of a hook on the door any day of the year!