Whatever You Do, Don’t Sit in That Middle Seat

My friend Jimmy John sent an article likening germs lurking on keyboards, desks and phones in the office to the germs contaminating a toilet seat. I forwarded the link to my officemates, and a revolution began. Keyboards were subsequently disinfected with Clorox wipes. Hand sanitizers were pumped twice as often. Sneezes were covered with a hand, and that hand was immediately cleaned.

As if germs in the office aren’t bad enough, they’re also saturating airplanes. Something we all always suspected, of course. I love perusing the SkyMall magazine, but we all know it’s been through dozens of other germ-infested hands.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal had to say:

Steve Cuzzone, finance director for a Birmingham, Ala., manufacturer, has found old french fries, a festering baby diaper, half a hamburger, used Kleenex and wet napkins a seat-back pockets. He put a book in once and pulled it out to find the bottom covered in a melted candy bar.

“If you sit in a middle seat, never look in — those are the riskiest ones,” he said, noting that children often sit between parents and that passengers will dispose of their grosses things in an unoccupied middle seat.

On the other hand, some say it’s important to build up immunity to these things. I asked my mom, a registered nurse of 30 years, if she used to thoroughly scrub me down after letting me play on those 25-cent mechanical horse rides outside the grocery store. She said no. Since I was a child, whenever we would go on trips to India, she would give us the same water everyone else was drinking, from the well or the tap, and she would feed us pretty much anything that was available, so we would get used to the food without getting sick.

Does uber-cleanliness reduce your immunity? What’s the happy medium? I might eat food after touching my keyboard, but I do my best not to touch airplane seat-back pockets without a slather of hand sanitizer. What about magazines at the salon or the doctor’s office? Do you turn off the sink faucet with your bare hand? Do you touch door knobs and handles? Aren’t our cell phones and car steering wheels dripping with diseases?

The list of potential germ hideouts goes on and on.


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