Friday, June 26, 2009

A Letter

To the Lady Who Dispenses Her Paper Towel before Washing Her Hands,

First off, I would like to say I totally understand. I completely get that you’re trying to be conscious of germs and that you don’t want the hands you’re about to clean at the sink dirty by touching the paper towel dispenser. I get it, and I can respect that.

Secondly, I also understand that there aren’t a whole lot of women who use our bathroom. Our bathroom is perhaps the only girl’s bathroom in the world that never has a line. You’re not all that worried about the other people who use the bathroom because there are only like five of us. I get that.

Third, I get that you’re probably a human resources person, since I know the three female engineers besides myself who use our bathroom. I don’t mean to judge or anything, but as a human resource person, I realize you may not think quite as critically as we engineers. Engineers are trained to see problems and try to fix them. I understand that you did not have the horrific experience of being an engineering student and therefore may not see the problem you’re creating.

Let me point it out to you.

After you use the bathroom, you walk up to a paper towel dispenser, touch the handle of the dispenser with your dirty hands, dispense the paper towel to an appropriate length, and then wash your hands. Once your hands are clean, you grab your paper towel without touching the handle you just dirtied and head out of the bathroom with dry clean hands. How nice. How pleasant. That is, how nice, pleasant, and clean for you.

I don’t know if you realize this but out of the 15 women who use our bathroom you are the only one who does this. The rest of us do things in the normal order. We leave the stall, we wash our hands, and we get a paper towel. No early dispensing is necessary. Our hands are clean when we touch the paper towel dispenser’s handle. A handle that would be clean if not for you.

You see in your desire to not catch our germs; you’re actually giving all of us your germs. Do you see what I mean? No. Let me explain.

Our hands are clean when they touch the handle. Clean. Germ free. Or at least as germ free as soap can make them (let’s not consider that 0.01% of germs that survive. They’re unimportant). Therefore, if everyone washed their hands before touching the handle, the handle would never be a hive of germs. Only clean hands are touching it, therefore the handle is clean.

But you, my friend, you who are so germ conscious, are actually ruining the system. Your hands are dirty when you touch the handle. You touch it with unwashed, dirty, germ filled hands. Because of that, the rest of our clean hands are contaminated by your germs. We were clean. You made us dirty.

It’s not like you’re using a public restroom used by hundreds of people. This is a small, daily cleaned restroom used by 15 women. You undoubtedly know all of these fifteen women on a first name basis, except for perhaps the three female engineers. I admit that engineers and human resources people don’t always mix well. However, we engineers are far from a wild card. We’re very methodical, not exactly dirty people. We work in a cube just like you. Our work is just way more mathy, not dirty.

I’m not asking for much from you. I’m just asking that you get with the system. You must have observed that all of the rest of us wash our hands before we get paper towels. Surely you have seen us wash our hands thoroughly. So please, I’m begging you. Stop dispensing the paper towel before you wash your hands. Stop infecting our clean paper towel dispenser with your germs. Please get with the system.

If everyone is with the system, we all will have clean, germ free hands.

Thank you,

Your Bathroom-mate,

Bittersweet Fountain

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