The swine flu has brought up a pet peeve of mine. Everywhere I go people stick out their hands and expect that I will put my hand in their moist, warm hand and squeeze. This has been a sore subject with me since my days of guiding in Alaska when I finally connected the colds and flu that we consistently had all summer to people getting off planes from around the world and shaking our hands. In our remote lodge the staff used outhouses with no sinks to wash up in. After our first summer of this, we fixed up a cold drink cooler on a log with a roll of paper towel stashed nearby to wash our hands with before we ate. The next year I started adding a drop of bleach to it and we stopped having the flu sweep through camp on a regular basis. Once you realize that everyone touches their face with their hands hundreds of times of day, getting those droplets of germ carrying liquids on their palms and fingers it is hard to stick you hand in theirs.
The other day I was in a doctor’s waiting room for a check up when a mother with an obviously sick kid came in. She saw me and rushed over to say she had wanted to meet me and stuck out her hand. I ignored her hand, but both of us were embarrassed by the gesture. I felt bad, but not as bad as if I had come down with her son’s cold. Isn’t there some way we can stop this custom and replace it with something healthier? For instance it isn’t practical to expect that at a reception, meeting, opening, or book signing you will be able to wash your hands after every time someone grabs you before you eat some of the finger food always provided. Sometimes I just back off and say, “sorry I have a cold”, but that doesn’t always end the embarrassment. Maybe if we all agree that hand shaking should be a thing of the past it won’t be so awkward for us all.
Causes Linda Hunter Supports