March 24, 2009

Sterilized & Sanitized: Clean Me More, I'm Dirty.

Chapter 14.

Clean Me More, I'm Dirty

Actually, I am a pretty clean guy. I shower and brush my teeth. I Wash my hands before eating maybe 8 times out of 10. And I bring my own cutlery to restaurants.


Okay, may be not that last one. But that's my point. Soooo much emphasis is always put on how everyone is so damn' concerned for cleanliness that it is actually sort of turning into this crazy paranoia where you can't go anywhere without fearing what might have been there first...and what was left behind.

It reminds me of that little guy from Wall-E (Mo) that rolls around everywhere bleeping the words: "foreign contaminant, foreign contaminant". I wonder how much of this will come to be true once we get to the year 2743...

So I suppose a lot of this - like many of my postings - has to do with knowing when/where to draw the line. Sure, some public washrooms are just plain gross. Sometimes you might open the door, walk in 2 steps, then spin on your heal and walk right back out. It's just that bad. Other times, you might be just driven to the limit! and can't put things off any longer and before you know it, you're lining the toilet seat with the same TP that a total stranger was acquiring only minutes earlier from that same dispenser hanging on the wall, engraved with catchy phrases and phone numbers. Then again, if the bathroom isn't the one in a West Edmonton Mall food court or on the main floor of the ETLC or the McDonald's restaurant on 111th Ave, then you might actually even have to use a paper towel to work the soap dispenser, turn on a faucet, and openin' the door on your way back out.

Ketchup in restaurants used to be set on tables, ready and waiting for you to use as much or as little as you wanted to on your fries, eggs, steak. Nowadays, ketchup is prepared in the kitchen, and your little 30 gram ration is brought out alongside your meal in a little paper cup. And how awkward is that when you order ketchup with your steak!!

Keeping with the restaurant/food theme, I remember back in the day when plastic drinking straws weren't individually wrapped with paper sleeves. Are people really that much more dirty NOW then they were a decade ago that we can't even take from the same straw machine? Maybe so. I suppose it has more to do with (like everything else in the world) proportions of populations. More people total = more people dirty. Urbanization and population growth are once again the real culprits. Even with the better meds, sanitary products & services, advanced treatments, and various diagnostic tests, we are still getting dirty. So despite being told how nowadays we are a healthier species with higher longevities than ever before in human history, we still can't be trusted with our ketchup and we need paper sleeves on our straws. And no more pee-mints.

There is also this large wave of nu-hippies out there who are taking on this holistic approach. No whacky meds and everything au naturale. Dooood. Thaaaaat sooounnnnds revooooLUUUUUUtionarrrrrry! Stick it to the man, dude! Fuck the system!!! My yoga mat is actually made out of hemp! My kids won't ever have a immunization shot, because I believe in feeding them organic oranges and no caffeine! or Kraft products. Or beef. Or meat products at all, really. They will build strong immune systems and will become world leaders.

Buses. Specifically Edmonton Transit. A second home of mine between the years 1996 and 2008. They can be pretty unsanitary. I've seen everything from half-eaten sandwiches to half-drank beers to gum anywhere imaginable to vomit, spit, and worse. And that's just the driver! jk. But if this is the respect that patrons of Edmonton Transit are paying for the 2 dollar and 75 cent service that the cityis providing, it says a lot about (some of) the patrons themselves. My recommendation when taking Edmonton Transit: Full sleeves, jeans, knee socks, closed-toe shoes, gloves, and a hoodie with the hood up. and drawn tight. Not all bus-riders are overwhelmingly disgusting, but some of them you may prefer to not have coughing on, or rubbing up against you. Trust me, I was one of those very people.
So sanitation (on buses or anywhere) is directly related to health, and despite my criticisms of how a lot of the sterilization techniques seem overkill, they probably necessary (with no one to blame but ourselves).

But I guess as Canadians, we are really pretty damn' fortunate when it comes to our over all health. In comparison with our neighbors to the south, anyways. Michael Moore's Sicko pointed this out pretty explicitly. Also, we suck doctors out of places like South Africa, Bangladesh, Indonesia with pretty terrific promises of salaries and standards of life so that we have enough physicians to go around for our 33M people. We hope that "proportional populations" won't leave those countries with a healthcare deficit. Even if we already know that 95% of the World Is 3rd World. And thanks to Ralph Klein, the 3rd Reich errr what? Okay, the Third Way Health Care programme, you can be rest assured that all of your Big Oil money will get you into the doctor's office FIRST to scan for that tumour resulting from you sucking back all those petro/diesel fumes. Let's just hope that the doctor that you DO get (whether you pay your way, or wait and wait til your final moments here on earth) is actually a A- doctor instead of a C+ doctor!
My lungs right now are pretty clear. Other than actually being sicker than I have been for longer than I have ever been (~10 days now). But I had been exposed to second-hand smoke semi-regularly for 15 years until my Grandma passed away in '99 from lung cancer. Since then, I have been in virtually smoke free atmospheres for 10 years now. It was about 2003 when the No Smoking In Bars bylaw came into effect, so I only had 1 good year of going out to smoke-filled pubs n' clubs before that breath of death was taken out of the equation too. I enjoy my health. I think that bylaws like not smoking within 5 metres of a business entrance way is retarded since it is pretty damn' impossible to enforce. But we are making progress. Thank You For Smoking with Aaron Eckhart did a decent job of showing us all how tobacco lobbyists are in fact The Devil. I think that we've seen smoking being eliminated from airplanes, malls, restaurants, bars, and now: cars with children (law in Ontario) all within my lifetime (mid-late 80s for planes). We are getting cleaner, healthier, and maybe even happier? With this new found health, and our hemp yoga mats and untainted beverage straws for our diet coca-colas, maybe we will find some more time (more years in our life) to be doing more positive things with it. Finding cures for AIDS or MS or Lung Cancer, for example!!
So yes. Drawing that line. Always a challenge. I believe that being overkill really is necessary in this day & age (like, calculate a HUGE factor of safety), because there are just too many of those "100% Pure Contaminants" out there, who likely won't have the opportunity to sanitize or sterilize anything ever. It's a cryin' shame that even if a peanut shot is created for kids so that PB&J sandwiches might actually be allowed back into schools one day, one parent will likely be that "holistic hippie" and wreck it for everyone else anyways!
But safety first, eh?!
Good health to you.

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