One person in the office gets the flu, and soon everybody in their row has it. And as paranoid as people think they are about germs these days, with their antibacterial lotions and careful hand-washing after even briefly touching their genitals, the truth is most of us still have no freaking idea where we're picking up these germs.
But if you carried around a microscope everywhere you went, there are a whole lot of everyday things you'd be a lot more hesitant to rub all over your hands.
The most unpleasant place most of us will visit this week is a nice, fragrant, poorly-maintained public restroom. Now, it's no surprise to find the floor and piss-splattered toilet seat are crawling with germs (how many of you still haven't figured out how to flush the toilet with your foot?) but that's OK, because you still remember to pump that liquid soap onto your hands and wash the hell out of them before you leave.
Or it would be OK, if some of the soap wasn't also full of germs. A study conducted by researcher Jonathon Sexton revealed about a quarter of the of the soap dispensers in public restrooms were pumping out viable bacteria with each glob. Yeah, the stuff that makes you sick was in the soap.
The problem is most of these places were using refillable soap dispensers, so contamination was happening when the filth-ridden employees were doing the refilling (the fancier kind of dispensers with sealed, disposable bags inside were clean).
Designed to kill.
Of course, soap is still soap and it's our number one defense against more harmful forms of bacteria, like whatever you got on your hand after it ripped through that ghetto brand toilet paper public restrooms use that seems to be cobbled together from whispers and recycled Chinese newsprint. So it's kind of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. So Keep That in Mind When...
...some guy gives you a dirty look if you fail to wash your hands after just peeing. Look, if you showered in the morning it's unlikely your dick is very contaminated. If anything you've probably made your clean dick a little dirtier by touching it with your filthy hands.
And both will wind up cleaner than that guy's hands who, after issuing his disapproval, touches one of the dirtiest surfaces ever invented by man: the handle on a bathroom faucet. Then he compounds the infestation when he touches the handle on the restroom door on his way out. Yet, if you so much as use your dick to open the door just one time, you're the bad guy.
What does your wallet have in common with the local crack den? It's packing nothing but filth and narcotics, that's what.
A 2008 study showed cocaine traces on bills from all over the world, with American money taking the gold. U-S-A! U-S-A!
That's right, some bills tested contained up to 1300 micrograms of pure Bolivian marching powder. If any of you pulled out your wallet and started trying to hitch the reindeer off of a 20, you can put it back. A microgram is about a millionth of a teabag full of cocaine, so unless you've got a million bills to lick you're not going to be getting very high and if you do have a million handy, we assume your army of strippers have already writhed across them all and sanitized them with boob sweat.
The point, however, is that it gives you an idea of the sponge-like ability for money to absorb whatever it comes in contact with, namely drugs and the germs from the hands of everyone who handled it (and whatever else they were handling) before you. So it's not just blow you're carting around; it's everything from chicken guts to common household ball sweat (remember that every dollar bill you touch has potentially been in a Chippendale's dancer's G-string at some point).
Also, that wallet you use to house your cash? The fact that it's stuffed into your pocket close to your warm body helps incubate any germs that were already festering on your two bucks, ensuring it stays as dirty as possible. So Keep That in Mind When...
...people flip out at Burger King when they see a guy sneeze near the grill, but don't blink when the cashier who has handled thousands of diseased bills that morning is the one who stacks the food on your tray.
You probably didn't know there is roughly 0.1 gram of fecal matter in an average pair of underwear. On any given day you and everyone you cross paths with are basically shit Sherpas, carting that stuff to and fro. Granted 0.1 grams doesn't sound like much but that means you can expect up to 100 million E. coli bacteria floating around in a standard wash load containing undies which is, wait for it, a shitload.
Leading germaphobe, Charles Gerba, conducted a study on washing machines in Tucson and Tampa Bay and found coliform bacteria in 60 percent and E. coli in 10 percent of the machines tested, confirming that either the machines aren't all that great at killing your poop germs, or that people in Tucson and Tampa shit in their washers.
You can wash your first load with bleach and hot water and you'll reduce the amount of bacteria that will survive the wash. Or if you don't like the idea of using bleach you can just wash your drawers separately in their own little poop stew. Otherwise, that nice, fresh-smelling load of laundry has some invisible residue waiting for you. So Keep That in Mind When...
...you see Snuggles the Fabric Softener bear rubbing his little face all over the newly "clean" laundry. Enjoy our shit, bear.
Your Computer Keyboard
If you're reading this, you are either using a computer, near a computer or looking at one over the shoulder of your neighbor across the way through high powered binoculars or perhaps the scope of a sniper rifle. Lucky for you, that third choice is the cleanest of the bunch.
OK, so a lot of you knew this already suspected your keyboards were filthy (many offices are even handing out disinfectant wipes once a month to have employees wipe theirs down). But what's amazing is just how freaking dirty it is.
While the average office toilet seat has around 49 germs per square inch, that keyboard of yours averages 3,925.
So basically what we're saying is if the only thing you used your computer for was to shit on it, it would be cleaner than it currently is.
Experts say touching Wayne Knight's computer would land you in quarantine.
How could this possibly be true? Well, because toilets get cleaned regularly, even the aforementioned public toilet at the train station gets a occasional pass with a wet nap from a civil servant. Almost none of us think to do it with our office keyboard, and certainly not with the frequency it would require to keep it truly clean.
So all of the filthy shit we touch throughout the day accumulates on those keys over weeks and weeks. Your dog rolls in poop, you pet your dog, you go to work, you start typing. And so on. So Keep That in Mind When...
...you see people go through the trouble of carefully laying toilet paper around the edge of a toilet seat before they take a dump, carefully scrubbing their hands afterward, then happily going back to their desk and eating a doughnut while tapping away on their filth-encrusted keyboard.
Another seemingly innocuous device that will out germ a toilet seat, and even the aforementioned keyboard, is your telephone. This also shouldn't be too surprising, as all people do with phones is press them firmly to not one but two head orifices. How could that not end in horror movie-level grossness?
But again, the surprise is just how filthy the things get.
Remember how the average office toilet seat had 49 germs per square inch? Well it seems the average conversation is a lot dirtier with the office phone weighing in at a whopping 25,127 germs per square inch. Yeah, about 10 times as bad as your keyboard. Holy shit! Don't germs like, become visible at that point? So Keep That in Mind When...
...you know how when an angry customer demands to "talk to your supervisor," your response is to say, "Sure, let me get you the boss" and then shove the phone down the front of your pants? That almost certainly leaves the phone cleaner than it was before.
So, seriously, what could possibly be dirtier than that?
Much of the filth you come across in the day can be traced back to one wet, dirty hole. In order to narrow the list of potential suspects down, we'll just tell you it's your mouth. And everyone else's mouth. That gaping hole in your head is like a germ cannon.
It really is the perfect storm of filth: warm, wet and in direct contact with the outside world every time you open it. And then you consider our nasty habits like chewing on ink pens, biting dirty fingernails, leaving bits of food between our teeth and smoking half-finished cigarettes we find in the gutter (you've done this, right?), and you suddenly realize what a freaking miracle our immune system is.
So how does it compare to our toilet seat (again, 49 germs per square inch)? Experts simply leave the number at "millions." But let's put it this way: The average mouth houses around 700 different species of bacteria in its teeming microbial rainforest, with God knows how many members of each species wiggling around in there.
Damn, those Listerine commercials weren't lying.
This is one reason why a bite from a human is more likely to make you sick than a bite from an animal. It's not that dogs have cleaner mouths (they don't) but that the germs in a human mouth are the kind designed to infect humans. So Keep That in Mind When...
...you see those anti-drug PSAs that talk about the dangers of marijuana, but fail to mention the need to wipe down that filthy bong you're passing around. Fuck the weed, man, get some disinfectant on that thing. Some of these people you're sharing with are hippies.