Yesterday I was amused, resigned and irritated in equal measure to happen upon this notice. I know it’s not unusual to see notices of this sort these days in hospitals and surgeries, nor to see in schools and institutions brief reminders to wash hands. I do wonder at the need to have to remind adults, but there you go. It’s the Nanny State we’ve all come to know and love.
But the comprehensive instructions pictured above were not spotted in a hospital waiting room. I saw them in a concert hall venue cloakroom. I stood and read them for some time. I was quite amazed by their detail and thoroughness. I wondered what aspect of concert-going necessitated this extensive advice?
Removing jewellery? Were we about to become involved in some surgical procedure? One or two squirts of soap? Did they think it likely that concert-goers would seize the chance to gleefully half empty the soap dispenser?
Clever though to suggest using parts of each hand to assist in cleaning the other hand. I felt strongly that the instructions ought to have ordered clasping fingertips as well as the thumb to clean really effectively, but otherwise it was hard to fault if you were about to prepare food for the public.
I liked the bit about using the used paper towel to turn off the tap. In some toilets, I must admit I fear touching the taps more than the consequences of not washing my hands. But what if one chooses to use the hot air dryer? Since the tap can’t otherwise be turned off hygienically, do you just leave it running? Is it worth getting a clean dry paper towel to wipe down the taps? Would a clean dry paper towel even do a good job of getting rid of the nasty germs?
There still remains the peculiarly 21st century moral dilemma regarding the environmental cost of paper towels versus the environmental energy costs of a hand dryer. I would have welcomed some thoughts on this.
I think the only other thing I would have added to this helpful poster would be a reminder to use your elbow to lift the door handle to exit the cloakroom, or if that doesn’t work, get another paper towel to wrap around the door handle. Or, if you worry about all the environmental costs of all this paper use, just hang around until someone else comes in and dart out before the door closes.