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Conundrums [Aug. 17th, 2007|04:20 pm]
Arvind Narayanan
[Current Mood |amusedamused]

Some conundrums that happened to me at some point in the last few months that made me go "damn, this is straight outta Seinfeld":

1. At the end of the day's work at the office, you're heading to the gym, and you decide to change into gym clothes before you head out. As you come out of the stall in the restroom, you see there's someone there, washing their hands or whatever. Someone you occasionally run into in the corridor. You were just changing, nothing more. But of course, they don't know that.

Do you wash your hands?

2. You're in the neighborhood Target and you run into a friend. You make chitchat for a couple of minutes before moving on. But you're face to face again after a few minutes. And again. And again.

Do you have to smile every single time for the next hour or so or is it ok to ignore them after the first few times?

3. Restroom again. You notice someone leave without washing their hands. Ewww. Worse, they're sorta famous.

Is it your duty to tell the world?

(Edit: The guy was using the urinal, so there's no room for misinterpretation à la #1 above.

I've secretly hoped that one day there will be a database of men who have been seen leaving without washing their hands after using the urinal. You know, like registered sex offenders. And then you could look them up to see if any live in your neighborhood, for instance.

But then, how do you verify that the accused person indeed committed the alleged crime? Luckily, my sick mind has thought of a solution. But I won't post it here, because I hope to sell it some day and become rich. Bwahahaha.)

[User Picture]From: floopilot
2007-08-18 01:51 am (UTC)
Do you wash your hands?

I would :D
Irrespective of whether there was a 'someone' or not.
to get the dirty germs from the dirty stall knob left by the dirty stall-user before me who did God-knows-what, off my hands! sorry, as you can see, I'm a germaphobe
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[User Picture]From: mssnlayam
2007-08-18 03:16 am (UTC)
How do you get out of regular restrooms where there is a closed door?

After washing my hands, and I am about to get out, I always hesitate before touching the door handle, realize I have no alternative, and just proceed on my way out.
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[User Picture]From: smriti
2007-08-18 05:21 am (UTC)
use your elbows, of course.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2007-08-18 05:41 am (UTC)
You can turn a doorknob with your elbow?

That's a funny mental image :)
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[User Picture]From: smriti
2007-08-24 05:13 am (UTC)

I was only partly kidding though. I do this all the time --> given a restroom outer door with door lever (not knob) + door opening outwards: push lever down with elbow and shove door open with shoulder. This has become my preferred mechanism for opening doors where I'd rather not touch the handle. So much so that I don't even think about the process anymore, it's "default".

(well, you asked..)
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2007-08-24 05:21 am (UTC)
Holy crap.

From now on, whenever I worry that I'm weird, I'll think of all of you :)
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2007-08-18 05:48 am (UTC)
I see where you two are coming from; I mentally cringe too, but I believe they've done studies on this and restroom doorknobs aren't particularly germy places. In fact, most of our common intuition about hygiene is just wrong. You'd be surprised just how wrong sometimes...
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[User Picture]From: forvrkate
2007-08-18 12:23 pm (UTC)
See my comment. It also turns out that one of the [household] places with the highest microbe counts is inside your washing machine. Fix: about once a month, do a cycle with hot water and bleach and no clothes.

And cellphones have more germs on them than pretty much anything else you touch during your day.
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[User Picture]From: forvrkate
2007-08-18 12:20 pm (UTC)
I'm an admitted germaphobe. I have researched public bathrooms and germs. Turns out the door handle on the outside of the door (on the way in) has many more germs than the door handle on the way out; coming in, no one has washed their hands recently, but going out, most people have. Also, the stall with the least amount of bacteria is the one closest to the door -- no one ever uses that one.

In the most recent issue of Discover magazine, they mentioned that someone had just written a paper about how at fast food restaurants, there's more bacteria in the ice machine than in the toilet bowls. I think I'm going to switch to "no ice" from now on.

Penn & Teller, on their Showtime show "Bullshit!" [fantastic show, by the way] did an episode on germs and toilet seat covers. They had lots of lab techs swipe bathrooms. I think there are still more germs in your kitchen sink than in your toilet.

Did you know the bacteria count in milk doubles every fifteen minutes at room temperature? Eeeeew.
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2007-08-18 07:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks.. I've seen most of that, but the ice machine stuff was new though. Amusing :)

Let me counter that with some other research. Kids who grew up around pets turned out to be healthier adults. In spite of the germs. Actually, because of it. Germs aren't really bad for you -- at least not in the levels they're found on most household objects. On the contrary, they build up immune response just like vaccination.

Obviously, there's a point beyond which they get harmful, and unfortunately we have no good way to tell. So it's better to have good hygiene, but fretting over it excessively is, if anything, counterproductive. That's my view anyway.
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[User Picture]From: haran
2007-08-18 07:18 am (UTC)
Ha. "Straight out of Seinfeld" describes it perfectly!
My personal answers:
  1. Yes
  2. Ok to ignore them. To avoid uneasiness, make it a point to concentrate hard on the your shopping, as if there's nothing more intriguing than the price tag on whatever you're looking at. If there's no object to concentrate on, this is the part where your cell phone comes in handy.
  3. No. He could be just changing his clothes and just doesn't suffer from same neurosis that I do
Reminds me of these which I saw a few years ago:
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[User Picture]From: arvindn
2007-08-18 07:35 am (UTC)
Ha. "Straight out of Seinfeld" describes it perfectly!

I know! I was telling my coworker about #1 and he said it sounded like Seinfeld, and I was all like OMG THAT'S WHAT I WAS THINKING HOW DID YOU GUESS THAT!!

No. He could be just changing his clothes and just doesn't suffer from same neurosis that I do

Should have made it clearer. What if he was using the urinal? I've seen that happen several times. It's so revolting.

Reminds me of these which I saw a few years ago

Thanks! Every one of those rings so true :) Maybe I should blog more about these funny situations.
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