The Corner

Re: On a Point of Hygiene

There are some doors man was never meant to open — not with just-washed

hands, anyway. Vast e-mail bag on this, with answers all over the place.

Some samples:

[From Paul Evans, who teaches bacteriology] You are correct. … Zip up,

and back away cautiously, is epidemiologically sufficient.

[From Dave Ouzounian] I always heard, John, that you could tell what a

person really valued by watching when he washed his hands. For example, I

wash before handling my irreplaceable LP records. Along those lines, the

joke I once heard was that an Englishman washed after Number 1, and the

French washed before.

[From Anon.] Derb—I cannot focus on whether it is better to wash before

or after going to the bathroom because I sit here at my desk seething with

rage — make that inchoate rage — over the Abu Ghraib atrocities.

[Likewise] I’m not a physician, I’m an economist, but I worked in the

public health field for ten years in Indiana and Minnesota, and I can tell

you I wash

my hands about five times as often now as I did before I started hanging

around with doctors all day.

[From several]

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