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Rob Jenkinson's Letters from America #19
by Rob Jenkinson
2007-02-26 09:54:38
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Dear readers,

Germs are bad, right? I think we’re all in agreement there. I mean, I’d never take up Toilet Licking or Out Of Date Pork Eating as an extreme sport. I understand that germs aren’t great and try to avoid them. Americans, however, take their fear of germs to a whole new level. Germs terrify them.

Everything in America can be deemed “unsanitary” at any moment without a second's notice. I’m a clean boy, but I have no problems with letting a friend take a sip of my water or sharing a fork or whatever. If someone had trouble getting the plastic wrap off a ketchup bottle and used their teeth, I wouldn’t be bothered by it. They’re not coming into contact with the ketchup itself. That, however, is NOT acceptable with a lot of Americans, especially if they’re mothers.

It’s not surprising really, I was watching Good Morning America (a morning show on ABC, which is watched mainly by housewives and the unemployed) and they had a 10-minute piece called “GERM ATTACK!”, which pointed out all the unlikely places you might find germs (i.e.: everywhere). I saw on the local news in Chicago about how many germs there are in supermarket trolleys. For fuck’s sake.

The problem is that it filters down to their kids. Over the summer, my wife ran this “extravaganza” at the gym that she works at. There was a misting arch for the kids to cool down at. It was just a hose attached to a tap that then turned the water into mist. There were a bunch of five-year-old boys who thought the thing was fantastic and were going up to it and putting their mouths to the mist.

They were drinking the water for about 30 seconds before one of their older brothers (around eight-years-old) came running up shouting, “Stop! Stop! It’s not sanitary!” I’m not joking, it was incredible.

That said, it’s now infecting me. Sometimes in an American household they’ll have a big hand sanitizer bottle. I’ve taken to sanitizing my hands every 15minutes, lest the germs will get me!

Help me readers, I’m turning into Leonardo Di Caprio in The Aviator and that’s not a good thing.

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Sand2007-02-25 11:37:31
America, amongst its other demented enterprises, supports many flourishing manufacturers who proliferate panic idiocies about germs. No doubt it is wise to keep reasonably clean and to wash your hands afer an outing to diminish contact with unfriendly bacteria but the human body is normally seething with all sorts of microscopic activity, some of it necessary to stay healthy and some of it out to munch on the local meat. But the body is well protected by components on the lookout for aggressive immigrants who, on occasion, switch sides and become well behaved citizens like our mitochondria.

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