Friday, November 03, 2006

That’s One Clean Memo

I’ve heard of someone wanting to wash their hands of a particular office memo or corporate directive, but I’ve never heard of a company issuing a memo or interoffice directive about hand washing. When I received it in our staff meeting, I thought to myself, boy does my employer care about me. Then I realized it was probably more motivated by my employer wanting to cut down on having to pay sick time when an airborne illness levels their office staff. That made me bitter, resentful and disappointed so I decided it was time to blog about it. Actually, the moment I saw an office handout titled ‘STOP THE SPREAD OF GERMS,’ I knew I’d miraculously found material to write about just when my internal well of inspiration appeared to have run dry.

It’s really a very helpful document and I doubt I will ever become ill again if I follow the simple steps that are outlined within it. I knew about washing my hands before eating and after using the ‘restroom’ (which is usually anything but restful by the way). I didn’t realize however that I should also wash my hands when I am around someone who looks dirty. Who would have thought of that? Heck, that just saved three sick days right there!

Until yesterday’s memo, I thought I knew how to wash my hands. You put your hands together, lather, rinse, repeat, dry, buff, shine, smile, etc. Apparently, for all the years I’ve been alive, I have been neglecting the most important issue: washing time. Because my company cares so much about me, I can now tell you how long you should wash your hands. It’s a concrete method that’s sure to keep you clean without that annoying and ugly pruning of your fingers. Since it supposedly takes 20 seconds for soap and scrubbing to dislodge and remove stubborn germs (and yes, I am quoting verbatim), sing “Happy Birthday” all the way through twice while washing. As you are finishing the last few bars of the song, you can do so in quiet confidence that you are the proud owner of the cleanest hands in the universe! And no, I am not quoting that last sentence verbatim; it’s just how I feel now after washing my hands to the birthday song. Here’s a tip though: hum quietly rather than sing. I don’t know what it’s like in the woman’s restroom where you wash up, but in the men’s room, I’m getting some pretty funny looks singing “Happy Birthday to You” while washing my hands. I can tell you that I switched the song to “Free Bird” and I didn’t get as many looks. In fact, a couple of the guys joined in. For the fun of it, I tried singing Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and I was asked to leave.

Our company also suggests using a paper towel to turn off the faucet, but the joke’s on them. What they didn’t think of is that you are not using a paper towel to get a paper towel to turn off the faucet, so you have to wash your hands again and could end up in an endless paper towel/hand washing cycle for the rest of your life! Perhaps the wisest nugget of all though was that if I don’t have tissues to blow my nose on or to cover my mouth and nose with when I sneeze or cough, I should use my upper sleeve. It makes me look at rubbing elbows with upper management in a whole new light! I wonder if accounting will approve the increased amounts of my expense reports for all the dry cleaning of upper sleeves that will start to appear.

I don’t know who they are paying in my company to develop this stuff, but it has got to be the best job here (and possibly greatest squandering of payroll too). Hopefully this is just the first in a series of helpful safety bulletins. I would like to see them cover safe telephone use (like how to avoid accidentally dragging half the items off your desk with the phone cord or cleaning the mouthpiece at least once a year) and proper phone etiquette (especially how to use the mute, drop and transfer features). Also, they should initiate a mouse euthanasia program (oh sorry, I left out the word computer, as in computer mouse euthanasia). Computer keyboards and computer mice have to be the dirtiest and biggest germ spreading devices I have ever seen. Especially when you’ve got temps coming in and out working in different offices every day. I fear temps are germs’ equivalent of communist spies, but that’s a different health story.

I just feel warm all over knowing that my employer cares so much about me to pay people to develop these safety guides, pay for the printing of the documents and using company time to have a staff meeting to address these issues. Or maybe I feel warm all over because I only sang one verse of ‘Happy Birthday’ while washing my hands before going to lunch today and am now coming down with the Bird Flu. Please don’t tell my caring employer (who of course won’t be so caring if they ever read any of this). Cough, cough…


Bird on a Wire said...

You must work with Dilbert.

Odat said...

I can't believe you wrote about this...We have the same signs hung all over too and when I read them I lauged out loud and said wow.., what a blog! I too appreciate the fact that my employer cares so much about us...but we've been advised not only to turn the faucet off with a paper towel..but also to use one to open the door on the way out with one! So now I'm carrying a germ ridden paper towel back to my office? No instructions thereafter!!!!!!
Great post.....Happy Friday!

abbagirl74 said...

In my job, they have told us to sing the ABC's. I figure it is meant to take us back to our youth when we were suppose to be properly taught how to wash our hands.

Awesome Mom said...

Germaphobes drive me nuts! I laugh at germs and their disease causing ways.

Empress Bee said...

and what about money? so many germs, so little time.....bee

Sarge Charlie said...

Attention, friends of Miss Bee, November 4, 2006 is a special day for Miss Bee. There is a party going on at my blog, “sarge charlie”, which is on Miss Bee’s sidebar. Everyone is going to be there, stop on by and join the party.

Meloncutter said...

Look at it this way, if they wish to pay wages to you to wash your hands 4 or 5 hours a day, there will be less production from the cubicles. Once the production levels wind down, they will hire someone else to find where the production went. And another job is created. This is America. If things ain't right, create another corperate study and action department.


Later Y'all

Michael C said...

Bird: Only someone who looks like him ;-)

Odat: Unfortunately the minute we all saw the memo, we stopped paying attention!!

abbagirl74: I'd take the ABC song over the birthday's more universal!

Awesome Mom: I completely agree with you

Empress Bee: Yes, many makes the world go around and makes the world sick at the same time!

Sarge: I'm on my way!

Meloncutter: why are you always my voice of reason?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Gary Null, who makes Howard Hughes look like a really carefree fellow, published a book several years ago suggesting the cycle of washing/paper towel/doorknob with no end in sight. I was also stymied.

"Don't Worry Be Happy" in the men's room is screamingly funny. Be careful there. Some guys are sensitive, you know.

Amazing that somebody actually got paid to produce this little manifesto, thereby charting new territory in the noble quest to treat employees like cretins.

If one somehow managed to get sick anyway and claimed sick pay, could the company counter claim that he or she flouted the Clean Policy (comes from same root as "police") and therefore is not entitled to it? I doubt this was intended merely for your enjoyment, and ours. Thanks for sharing.

Michael C said...

HeartsinSanFran: I hadn't thought about your great point. Maybe it works the other way, too. In our sue happy state, I wonder if getting sick and complaining to work that their cleaning policy failed me would hold up in court. I'd never try it, but there's someone out there who might!

Natalie said...

hand sanitizer. that's all i have to say


Happy B-day twice? So I guess that means a splash of water doesn't do it, huh? Because that's what most people I know do. Ya know, just so no one else in the bathroom will think they're really gross for not washing their hands at all. :)

Anonymous said...

Islands in the Stream or one of many other country tunes comes to mind! What a great blog!!!!