Monday, July 1, 2013

Workplace hazard: The perilous world of the fist bump

I wonder if Howie Mandel has this problem?
                The reason I bring up the star of “Howie Do It” and “Bobby’s World” is because the famed germaphobe knows his way around the fist bump, and this simple act of tapping your knuckles against those of another man – or sometimes woman – has been causing me a lot of headaches recently.
I’ve got a light dusting of OCD, so washing my hands is a pretty important thing for me. I do it a lot. Not to the point that it holds me back from living my life such as it is, but I still think I wash my hands more often and more thoroughly than the average man.
Anyway, one thing I don’t do thoroughly is dry my hands. I prefer a good air dry. I’ll use paper towels if they’re available, but I tend to get carried away. Before I know it I’ve gone through a couple dozen of them, and somehow my hands are still not 100% dry. Like the Great Pyramids of Egypt, I can’t explain this, it just is.

Seeing all those wasted paper towels tends to make me feel a little guilty about the starving children in Africa who can’t afford paper towels and also endless fields of massacred trees.
But I hate those hot air blasters some facilities have installed as a more eco-friendly alternative to paper towels. Those don’t dry my hands either, but they are louder and more obnoxious than paper towels. Also, in bigger restrooms it always seems like the sink to hand drier ratio makes no sense. Why are there two dozen sinks and three hand driers?
All that is basically the long-winded way of saying my hands are almost always wet when I leave the bathroom. Very clean, but also very wet.
There are several people at my place of business who are just obsessed with fist bumps. I’ll go all day without seeing them. Until, that is, I walk out of the bathroom. Then POOF! There they are, fist extended for the bump.
Of course, my hands are both wet so now I’m in a dilemma. Do I try to quickly dry ’em off? Go for the bump anyway? Give a panicky “Sorry hands are wet?” Ignore the kindly gesture entirely and come off like a dick?
No, I usually go for the first bump wet hand and all.
I’m usually fairly mortified after this exchange. I put myself in their shoes and immediately think: “Who is this dirtball with the wet hands? What did he do, just pee all over himself?”
However, if it bothers them, they don’t seem to be letting on. They keep coming back for more fist bumps. But deep down inside, I can’t get passed the idea they walk away grossed out.  
Perhaps I need to work on my hand drying technique. Or maybe I’ll just stop going to the bathroom at work. You find out some weird stuff in there anyway, like who’s got a prostate issue and which of your co-workers doesn’t wash his hands after going to the john.
The guys who don’t wash their hands are the real dirtballs, anyway. But they’re hidden in the background passing germs around like hotcakes, while I’m on the frontlines driving myself crazy imagining people giving me dirty looks because I went above and beyond the call to make sure those same germs where DOA.
Some thanks I get. Geez.

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