Public Inconvenience

Cleanliness comes before Godliness, Happiness and MRSA.

Unfortunately, I was caught short at the supermarket this week and had to use their facilities.  Leaving my half filled trolley at the end of the milk aisle I made a dash for the front of the shop.  It was a slight shock to the eyes as I burst through the door to encounter a rather rotund mature lady sat in a cubicle with everything on display; I take it she had forgotten to shut the door.   Acutely embarrassed, I not her; stood back with my eyes averted blocking the entrance door to prevent any other unsuspecting customer rushing in.

This was not the episode that stirred my emotions; after all, I do hope to reach that age of forgetfulness some day in the distant future.  Public conveniences are not terribly large and shutting the door may have been too tricky with her bags, walking stick and bulk.

My equilibrium was thrown into turmoil as she finished, and without flushing, she hauled herself out of the cubicle to gather her bits.  Grunting at me, she pushed past and walked through the door I was still guarding.

Reeling from the shock of being grunted at and pushed, the realisation that she had not washed her hands pervaded my mind passing through the rest of the body with a shiver. Tentatively, I moved forward slowly to enter the now vacant cubicle. The other cubicle door opened and a youngish (my sort of age so very youngish) lady in a stylish well cut coat stepped out, passed in front of me, to leave through the same door.  She too had forgotten to wash her hands.

I am not a paragon of virtue and as Sexy Sporty Dad will testify; our house, most of the time looks as if a bomb has hit it, in fact a bomb would most likely leave it tidier.  There in, lies the difference; my house is clean if not tidy.   I am in some respects OTT about some things being clean, much to the hilarity and despair of the family round me.   I not only clean with copious amounts of fairy liquid and running water the meat board following a chopping session, but then insist on it being added to the dishwasher for a final sanitisation.    Rugby or Football boots; be warned a hissy fit of volcanic proportions will follow if any of the family dare to use my kitchen dishcloths for their muddy smelly shoes.  They take their lives in their hands if they dare to use my towel; when we each possess a different colour set of our own, (or my toothbrush for that matter).

Having used the supermarket facilities, I washed my hands thoroughly, in fact twice to make up for the previous two occupants.  I continued shopping but even a squirt of the bacterial gel I keep in my bag, could not remove the feeling of internal repulsion that shivered through me as I chose pre-bagged vegetables over the choose your own.

I wonder how these ladies would feel if they were in hospital and the nurse didn’t wash her hands.  How quickly would they point a finger if they contracted MRSA from a few seconds’ lethargy?   A wave of nausea passed through me when I recognised the well dressed lady at the end of the bread aisle.

There are “now wash your hands please” signs up in the store,  the basins and free soap are all available and clean but if someone wishes to ignore this common ritual what can the store do. Changing supermarkets is an option but I suspect the problem is not isolated to that particular store.  I will in future wash my vegetables a second time, or possibly a third before venturing to feed them to my family; tea may be delayed, but at least I will feel I have done my best for them.

In future, rather than change supermarket I must try and limit my use of public amenities following another little incident that happened a few weeks ago.  I attended a conference for school secretaries at a rather elegant converted mansion house. Returning from coffee my colleague and I popped to the ladies.  We joined the shorter queue downstairs.  A lady came out from the disabled door, so I urged my colleague to use that one.

Being now last in the line I barged through the main cloakroom door, to be met by two ladies drying their hands who kindly pointed me to the cubicles.  Having finished my business I stopped at the basin.

“Oh how embarrassing” came a very deep voice from the corner.

Turning round I found out that not all the male visitors were aware of the change of use for men.

“Oh I am so so sorry” I sort of stammered, pulling my eyes back; not to the mirror but the basin, the soap, the colour of the floor tiles, anything!

The voice came up behind me and quietly in my ear I heard “you can tell them you spent a penny with the headline speaker”

His speech, a harrowing account of his kidnap and torture was incredibly informative but also extremely entertaining; and bless him; there was no reference to our earlier meeting.  I however, was still too embarrassed to stand up and ask any questions during his Q&A session!





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