Sunday, March 16, 2008

That’s One Clean Memo (Again)

Ok, I have rescheduled Q & A Monday to another day to be determined later so that you can all put on some green and celebrate St. Patrick's day. Since they say that yellow and blue make green, I am wearing blue pants and a yellow shirt to work.


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…

16 comments:

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I once worked in a place where the exact same memo came around. I was insulted, cynical and amused in that approximate order.

And I couldn't get the damn birthday song out of my head all day, even after going to bed at night.

You also have to use a paper towel on the doorknob, tossing it at the last second into the trash as you exit the restroom. Die, buggers, DIE.

AndreAnna said...

I'm like a hand-washing Nazi. The trick is this: when you are done, first pull the paper town knob to release some towels, THEN wash your hands well, THEN grab the towel, THEN use the towel to dry your hands, shut off the faucet (if it's not automatic) and open the door. Discard paper towel at your desk.

I never used to be that crazy until I realize how many gross-ass people out there don't wash their hands and then touch the faucet and handle. DEEEEEEEEEEEE-SGUSTING!

Michael C said...

Hearts in San Fran: The idea of tossing it in at the last second before exiting makes it sound like a fun game!! ;-)

AA: Now I'm glad I posted this AFTER eating dinner...

citizen of the world said...

Unless you are in food service or health care, it seems like an odd thing to have a memo about. At any rate, I think people either will or won't and a memo won't change that.

Alison said...

When possible, I use my elbow to dispense the paper towels.

And when I was younger, I didn't care. Now? I do. I also think Americans are a little too germophobic, but when it comes to public restrooms, you can't be too careful.

brandy said...

I pretty much read off that memo everytime I take my class to the bathroom. Except we sing 'twinkle twinkle little star' while washing our hands. And unlike other people- I definitely love this memo. But I suspect that has to do with the fact that I work with children who routinely put their fingers up their noses and hands down their pants.

Clean hands? They are a good thing.

Michael C said...

COTW: Yeah, I work in an office secluded from the public. Odd, huh?

Alison: I have done the elbow thing quite often.

Bran: Yes, this memo really would be important for you. If this memo were issued in the Scranton branch of Dundler Mifflin, you just know Dwight would be the Clean police!

Selma said...

I prefer 'Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush' when engaging in the handwashing ritual. There actually is a verse that says : "This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands...on a cold and frosty morning." I have found that my co-workers can't help but sing along and before we know it we have a rousing, sudsy, squeaky-clean hands chorus. It's magical!

Patti said...

I only hope that restaurants are as stringent about teaching employees about hand-washing, and enforcing the rules. Yick.

And what about Purell? The company should supply employees with Purell stations for in-between cleanups.

Valerie said...

If you "waste" a precious paper towel turning the faucet off, then you've got the global warming people after you.

Carrie said...

A hahaha; you can thank public health nurses for those lovely little memos circulating around the office. But really; I think they care more about not paying you sick time for keeping you festered in a super-bug creating environment that is the office.

PS: did you know that there is more bacteria on your keyboard than there is on a toilet?

Natalie said...

I am a big believer in that memo and was still just out sick for almost a week. Boo memo.

meleah rebeccah said...

Thats rude and FUNNY that your office handed out paperwork on hand washing....but, it certainly gave you some nice 'material' to work with

" “Don’t Worry Be Happy” and I was asked to leave."

HA HA HA HA

(Free Bird? Dood you would be washing your hands for an HOUR...that is like the longest song...ever.)

Sunshine said...

Can I get this office memo copied for my kids?

chefmom said...

Oh..... I do get freaky about this. Your office phone has more germs then a toilet though. (according to Dateline, or one of those other "news" shoes) Ever since food sanitation certification (Meleah, add that to the list of hard phrases to say while drunk) class and caught TYPHOID, I am fanatical about the bathroom. I even carry disposable seat covers. Yep, Typhoid Mary, that's me. I got it from swimming in the Jersey Shore where Medical waste washed up a week later. Coincedence?! I think not Sherlock!! Lucky to be alive. As for you, keep your bird-flu-infested-nice-to-know-you-self on the West Coast. LOL!! ;)

kat said...

That sounds like what hell would be like.... reciting the bithrday song while taking turns both washing my hands and drying them with a paper towel in a public bathroom in the corporate world.

Yikes.

When I was cube-ing it, I always had a box of those alcohol swabs stashed in my desk. I was always rubbing down my phone, my mouse, my keyboard. Ew! Germs make me grossed out but OTHER peoples germs? Sends me into a frenzy.