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February 23, 2006



At the annual Yale-Harvard football game, two well-dressed gentlemen, one from Harvard and one from Yale, found themselves in the rest room at adjacent urinals at the same time. After relieving themselves, the Harvard man proceeded to the sinks to wash up while the Yale man headed for the door.

Looking down his nose at him as the Yale man reached for the handle, the Harvard man said, "At Harvard, they teach us to wash up after we go to the bathroom."

To which the Yale man replied, "At Yale, they teach us not to pee on our hands."

(Insert your own rivalry as appropriate)


Hey. Thanks for the link, and props, for my blog. Out of curiosity, how did you find it?


Sure it is polite to wash your hands after going to the bathroom and I do it every time. But if so many people don't where is the epidemic? When was the last time you visited someone in the hospital who was there becaus of shit?


Chris, found your blog by typing "CNN fecal matter ice" into Google–a dubious distinction!

Bartelby - Polite is not so much the term I would use as much as "good hygienic practice." As far as your epidemic question, how do we know, more than half the time if ever, where people pick up the germs that make them sick? And why must the person require hospitalization for it to be a valid concern? Any single illness caused by hand-transmitted fecal bacteria is one too many, if you ask me.

Krys O.

At my workplace, the tap water has a high level of sulphur so I always use hand sanitizer after washing.

Here's some info from the CDC:


The occupation with the most on the job fatalities is deep sea fisherman. I think it is safe to assume more people die each year pursuing a career as a deep sea fisherman than die from not washing hands after going to the bathroom. The point is there are many things in life that entail more danger than taking a shit that people don't seem to hve problem with. I can say "deep sea fisherman" in front of my grandmother and there is no problem, but I would create an uncomfortable situation if I said "shit." This is a phenomena autonomous from germ theory. The word "disgusting" does not occur in a medical dictionary.

the real will

i love people who scrub their hands with soap and water and then touch the door knob with their bare hands on the way out of the bathroom. they might as well just wash their hands in the toilet.

what i want to know is: should you brush your teeth before kissing someone you've just rimmed?


Hey Bart -- The fact that there are occupations more dangerous than the prospect of encountering another person's fecal germs does not alter the fact that I have a strong policy against coming in contact with OTHER PEOPLE'S SHIT. I don't eat the products of deep-sea fishing, so the danger to which that industry's employees is exposed doesn't affect me. If a restaurant employee takes a shit, fails to wash his or her hands, then returns to food prep, then, all due respect to the sensitivies your grandmother, I'd rather not be in the position of eating that person's shit.

You don't have to break out the hyper-germ-killing CDC-lab-grade soap. Ivory Soap + water = hands as shit (or piss) free as they need to be, Bart.

Wm -- I've got your back. (I would have smothered that roommate in his sleep, BTW.)


Despite my challenging tone in the piece, I never really thought I'd have to defend my position on this issue.
Sure disgust is a factor, but if e. coli is turning up in the ice from public eateries, that makes it a health concern–not the most monumental health concern ever–just a concern, and one I felt like writing about.


Wm: As there is clearly no appealing to virtue with these people, perhaps a change of tactic is in order. They should consider this: People touch their noses. A lot. They then touch other communal surfaces. A lot. Noses contain all kinds of cold-and-flu virii. Handwashing is the simplest way to periodically rid oneself of the creepy residue of other-peoples-disease-laden-snot that otherwise builds up all over your hands (and, thus, your own face; visualize cold-and-flu-related hilarity ensuing).

I suppose one could make hourly timed visits to the bathroom specifically in order to wash one's hands, but it seems so much simpler to just wash the damn things when you're already there to otherwise relieve yrself. It's simple self-preservation.

The Real Will: You're one of those weirdos who carries a piece of paper towel to the door & uses it to grab the handle & open the door, aren't you? Do you then throw it on the bathroom floor, like certain of my co-workers? Why not just carry it along with you to manipulate all the other sullied surfaces you might encounter on the way back to your PLASTIC BUBBLE?


I think indulging other people's neuroses is an act of altruism and thus and end in itself. However given my choice of roomates I would go with the guy who doesn't wash his hands over the guy who get's mad and punches a hole in the wall or the guy who "borrows" my cube fridge and then moves, or even the couple who has sex so loud I almost call the cops.


Hmm, it's good to see this. A few years ago I caught a horrible bacterial infection from, said the doctors, swallowing fecal matter; had I been to any third-world countries recently?, they asked. When the answer was no they said it had probably happened in a restaurant where the employees didn't wash their hands properly. It took two rounds of killer antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria, during which time I had constant diarrhea and stomach cramping, and now future generations will revere me as the mother of our super-bacteria overlords and I have a permanently messed-up digestive system. I used to be, if not laid-back, then at least not worried about hand-washing, but now I'm, uhh, positively anal about it. Wash your hands, people, 'cause this could happen to you.


Anne -- I've had food poisoning five times, but I got off easy compared to your experience (only one near-hospitalization). All of the incidents were traceable to restaurants, but it's tough to say whether it was fecal coliform or some foodborne pathogen like salmonella, shigella, etc. (And with little recourse. The Bergen County Dept of Health told me there was no way to press charges without a sample. Hel-lo, I was flushing it as fast as I could!) I have also eaten at Blueberry Hill, a 24-hour breakfast-and-more chain in Las Vegas, where a buzzer sounds every hour to remind employees to wash their hands! Between these two extremes lies a simple preventive measure that apparently not enough eatery employees enact.

Grady -- Your nose-touching observation is spot on. The nose filters all manner of disagreeable micro-crap. Worse, the eye is a common mode of transmission for cold and flu bugs. You clear your nose, time passes, you unthinkingly itch your eye, and there you go. A quick wash stops this.

I should also add that I find the other extreme -- spraying every surface with chemical disinfectants, using Purell every 5 minutes, antibiotic soaps on every occasion, and other Felix Unger/Howard Hughes tactics -- counterproductive from the angle of creating resistant bacteria. I use Dr. Bronner's soaps at home for everything except washing up after handling meat. Plus the labels are packed with groovy text. All-one!

fatty jubbo

I have a whole ingrained system of touching things in public. I usually use my pinky with a little bit of palm to open doorknobs. If I'm on a bus or train and I really must touch something to maintain my balance, I usually hook it with my elbow or use the back of my hand- thank god for wintertime and for gloves though. I am amazed at the amount of caressing and manhandling people do on those polls...and what about the fabric hoops? Sucking up and retaining all manner of nastiness?

But I know all thing fancy fingering is doing little good- hands perspire, germs breed and move all over my hand. I try not to touch my face, pick my nose...I wipe my nose on the back of my arm. But if I have a little itch on my eye, the crook of my nostil- what do I scratch it with...because I feel I'm being dainty and taking precautions? Usually my goddamn pinky.

But throught it all, I rarely consider the fecular aspect of it. I'm more worried about getting a cold and having the next 2 weeks of my life be slightly miserable.

fatty jubbo

woops! sorry for the atrocious grammar- I just woke up.

Steve PMX

I've known hippies who practice *minimal* (if any) wiping whatsoever. And heroin addicts have been known to fall under this category as well, so its not necessarily limited to hippies. ugh I feel dirty just talking about that :x

You wrote:
"Is the avoidance of this critical step in health and hygiene a matter of casual indifference, forgetfulness, or is there some deep-seated arrogance that leads a person to not clean their hands after wiping fecal matter off their body?"


Michael McDonald doesn't wash his hands after dropping anchor.

Doodie hands/yacht rock syncronicity!

buckeye girl

While I wash up myself, I'm generally with Bartleby, and more importantly Grady. That paper towel on the door handle is the absolute peeve of the century. Like fecal matter doesn't travel out of the bathroom to FAST FOOD ICE for God's sake. There are just so many other things to worry about than where other people's hands have been, unless of course you're in that bubble.

Have any of you EVER worked in restaurants? My very first job was at Long John Silver's, in which cole slaw was kept in a giant tub, and the person who made new cole slaw dumped it on top of the old and the scoop. So you would have to STICK YOUR HAND up to your armpit to get the scoop. The next job I had was at old fast food chain Sister's Chicken and Biscuits, which was DELICIOUS but in which food would fall on the floor and get snuck back into the viable food pile now and again, as long as the mgr. didn't catch you. Don't even get me started on the hippie deli I worked at in college, in which rude treatment at the register would get you all sorts of surprises in your sandwich - crap from the grill, the dregs from the microwave,etc. People, I'm afraid this happens more than you think.

And, like Bartleby and Grady, I never died from eating either place. Germs, schmerms, I say.


Employees must wash hands before returning to work
M Ploys must warsh hands B4 returning to work?
Employees must wash hands before returning to work
M Ploys must warsh hands B4 returning to work?

Do not use a knife to butter the bread
Use the fork I'll be using to eat with instead
Do not use a knife to butter the bread
Use the fork I'll be using to eat with instead

Employees must wash hands before returning to work
M Ploys must warsh hands B4 returning to work?
Employees must wash hands before returning to work
M Ploys must warsh hands B4 returning to work?

©1947 Rodgerms & Hardt, Platformatunes Pubrishing (SESAC)


I remember once in my travels seeing a sign in the bathroom saying "Our Employees were raised right and don't have to be REMINDED to wash their hands after using the rest room"
I wish i could remember which restaurant in which city I saw that. Unfortunately, the meal hasn't stuck in my memory as much as the trip to the bethroom.


Helicobacter pylori (causes ulcers, etc, and sometimes even stomach cancer) is cultured from faeces and survives in water. Now, I'm no scientist, and I know that there are probably lots of other possible avenues of fecal-oral transmission, but the totally conceivable prospect of fast food/restaurant ice being a vessel for the bacteria is just plain retarded. For crying out loud, shit in ice?

ps. i found this site by googling "fecal matter ice."


One day Slavcia drove up to the bank and said to the teller through the intercom, "I'd like to make a deposit" I thought that was SOOOO funny! And then the bank teller put this tube in a shoot and it zoomed over to our car. I couldn’t stop laughing!
It was so hilarious! I said "Slavcia, what are you doing?"
She said " I'm making a deposit" I was absolutely shocked! I said "In that tube?" She said "Yes" I almost died laughing!
It was so funny!
Personally after a deposit I ALWAYS wipe thoroughly (with which ambidextrous hand I will not tell) I flush and wash my hands with hot water and soap. All of the people I know in this life tell me that I never smell bad, my apartment can be a mess to put it mildly and I may look unkempt most of the time but you can be damn sure there are no doo doo stains in my undies!
That person who wrote something derogatory about hippies? I want them to take that back! I wear clothes sometimes three days in a row tops.
I love the trees man , see the link above about the history of T.P. including HEMP toilet paper!


About a year and a half ago I ended up in the emergency room after contracting a virus that was transmitted through fecal matter from a fast food restraunt. It was extremely painful and lasted over a week. Now I have to go through a bunch of bullshit to get insurance because of this visit. Wash your fucking hands people its no big deal until your the one lying on the hospital bed moaning in agony because it feels like someone is driving a serrated knife through your stomach.

virus victim

I was sick for frickin' two months with hepatitis A - which is spread by food service workers not washing their hands after they poop! Can you imagine how great it is to not be able to work more than half-time for two months? Wash your hands, you damn sons-of-bitches!


Grrrrr I cant stand people who dont wash their hands...So unclean. Here is a video I email them that reminds them of the procedure.

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