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The 10-second rule, swine flu & disregard for others’ health

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POSTED May 5, 2009 1:34 a.m.
Some people abide by the 10-second rule. Personally, mine is more like 30 seconds.
I guess it comes from being out in the middle of nowhere on long bicycle rides and having to eat only what I bring with me. I have no problem with picking most food I drop up off the floor – or from the ground – and eating it.
I don’t exactly have a phobia about dirt and germs.
Having said that it never fails to amaze me how often other people have little regard for others around them when it comes to spreading germs.
People who would never dream of picking food up off the floor and eating it have no problem using their fingers to pick through salad bars.
Mention to them how rude this is and they go ballistic. Granted, it can irk folks when a stranger points out shortcomings such as poor sanitary habits but unless they’re buying the entire salad bar they’re fair game.
The lengths that some people are now going to avoid the swine flu is laughable when you consider some of them just months ago had no problem sneezing without covering  their mouths.
Don’t get me wrong. The swine flu is obviously deadly and can make people sick but so can a long list of other things. It’s a shame that most of us aren’t as considerate of others when it comes to run-of-the-mill germs. Then again, the people who are taking precautions are doing so to protect themselves and not others.
This brings us to the need for more of us to step up.
There are more than a few examples I can think of where I just rolled my eyes and went the other way. Instead I should have made it a big issue with the manager.
A few years back while we went into a fast food place here in Manteca, there was a young lady at the counter taking orders who was sneezing and coughing while wiping her nose across the back of her hands. The father with a young son in front of us just looked repulsed and left as soon as they placed their order. Cynthia, on the other hand, asked the young lady to wash her hands.
The counter person looked at her like she had a hole in her head. Cynthia insisted. Then the girl said “whatever” and went and washed her hands and then returned to wait on us.
Her supervisors should have been read the riot act which I failed to do.
About the same time some teen workers at another fast food place were bragging about how they took the toy plastic soldiers they gave away with kids meals and would toss three or four of them at a time into the deep fry where they cook fries.
They thought it was funny. When they were asked whether they’d eat fries cooked in the plastic, they replied in the negative.
Again, at the very least the concern should have been brought to the people who ran the fast food place even if I didn’t mention the names of the braggarts.
Too often we assume “the government” as well as policies and regulations protect the general health. When it comes down to it, we are all responsible.
Who cares if a cashier coughing and sneezing and wiping it on her hands in a food operation gets annoyed because you ask her to wash her hands?  Obviously her supervisors didn’t make her aware of standard public health rules when handling food and – worse – didn’t notice it or take steps to do anything about it.
It’s too bad that many people don’t worry about public health until something like the swine flu comes along.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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