Breaking news: There are germs!


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With all the stunning events happening across the world, from rebellion in Libya to the meltdown of Charlie Sheen, there was one piece of news last week that seemed to grip the nation like no other story has in quite a long time.

While many folks expected that the Middle East would explode eventually, resulting in a fiery apocalypse, and we also expect Hollywood celebrities to get themselves in trouble, the shockwaves from the other big story of the week are still being felt nationwide.

It's the startling news from a University of Arizona study that found that 72 percent of our nation's shopping carts are infected with fecal matter, many of which tested positive for E. coli bacteria. Yes, your toilet is likely a cleaner and less disgusting place than your shopping cart.

While many people I know were ignoring the news from Libya, Egypt and even our own political squabbles at the statehouse, the fact that they're handling feces when they go shopping is something too shocking to ignore. By Friday, everyone I know was talking about it.

The news doesn't surprise me because a long life has taught me that most folks are disgusting creatures when it comes to matters of hygiene. What is both strange and hilarious is that people appear to be horrified and helpless when they hear something like this.

Think about it. The germs living on your grocery shopping cart came from someone's poop and were likely deposited there by someone who didn't wash his or her hands after performing the act of pooping. They knew they were infecting your cart but they just didn't care.

That seems to be the inconvenient truth that is upsetting people nationwide over this story. For all our freedoms, liberty and prosperity, apparently many Americans deliberately choose to poop on their hands and then go grocery shopping. It's hard to wrap one's mind around that.

If that wasn't bad enough, the related news that touch-screen cellphones are also infected with bacteria brings the story the one-two punch that makes it a guaranteed water-cooler topic for months and months to come.

The very fact that people are actively worried about this is a source of endless entertainment to me. It's far more enjoyable than any of Charlie Sheen's ramblings because millions of Americans are going to be haunted by the poop news for quite some time.

The short-term reaction is going to be swift. Customers are going to insist on germ-free carts. Some may even wear disposable gloves while shopping. Others are going to buy package after package of hand sanitizer and wipes in reaction.

It's predictable that people will overreact to the poopy shopping cart story. These are the same people who spend the entire fall and winter spraying Lysol on every exposed surface, who insist everyone near them use hand sanitizer, and who worry terminally about catching the flu.

Of course, they usually don't get flu shots or use proper hygiene in other aspects of their lives. So when they get sick, they figure that they simply hadn't used enough Lysol or sanitizer.

In the office where I work, there are people who insist on scrubbing their cubicles every day with sanitizing wipes, despite the fact that no one but them uses their desk. They pollute the air with this stuff and make me sick with it.

They spray Lysol so heavily that the air becomes thick and moist with these noxious chemicals. And then, if they're like many Americans, they use the restroom and bring millions of bacteria back with them to their cubicles.

I'm no germophobe but even I get discomfited when I see someone emerge from a bathroom stall, look in the mirror for a few seconds and then stroll out casually. These, my friends, are the culprits responsible for your poop-encrusted shopping carts.

If you live in a place with indoor plumbing and you're still too lazy to wash your hands after you defecate, then you deserve to get stomach flu or whatever else was living in your colon.

But the answer isn't to poison our air with disinfectant, as the gut reaction to last week's study seemed to indicate. Nor is it to wipe down every surface in the world with nasty, alcohol-infused cloths.

It's to show some common sense and wash your hands. It's not that hard, really. Even in my drinking days, when I was too hung over to make it to the restroom without falling over once or twice, I still had enough composure to clean my hands after I'd puked all over them. It can be done.

Meanwhile, let's keep torturing the truly hygiene-obsessed with news of the poop carts and poisoned cellphones. It's too much fun watching them squirm over this. We should be able to keep ourselves entertained until summer with this information. They deserve it.


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