The Towel Defense

For as long as I can remember television news has been about trying to keep us scared. Fox News may have brought the art to a new level but it’s been a problem for a lot longer than they’ve been around. The pervasive sense of fear that’s become normal for us Americans has been manifesting itself in ways both big and small for quite some time now.

Some of the big ways are pretty obvious, the passage of the PATRIOT act, the hysteria over illegal immigrants, even the Tea Party. And while I’m mentioning the Tea Party, does it make sense to name a political movement after an event famously presided over by a madman catering to rabbits and mice? Oh, never mind.

Lately, God and I have been watching one of the smaller ways that the fear bubbles up out of our collective unconscious. People have become so afraid of germs that they’ve invented a new ritual. After they wash up in public bathrooms they dry their hands with the paper towels, throw them in the trash, and then take another one. They use this extra towel to open the door, convinced that it will protect them from life-threatening disease by shielding them from whatever germs have been deposited on the door handle by anyone before them that did not wash their hands. If there’s a trash bin close enough they’ll toss the towel into it and scamper through the doorway before the door can shut, but if there isn’t, they’ll blithely toss the paper onto the restroom floor.

I swear, one of these days I expect to see a new “fad” of people wearing latex gloves whenever they leave their homes.

These people have allowed their own paranoia and inflated sense of self-worth to get them to abandon their manners and I say shame on them. Sure lots of people get sick every day from germs that they’ve picked up somewhere, but God assures me that the number of them that get those germs from bathroom door handles is infinitesimal, and the number of people that save themselves from a few days of flu or a night’s bout of Montezuma’s Revenge by this paper towel trick is too small to measure.

If you’re one of these people, God and I have a message for you: Get over it and get a life. You’re not really protecting yourself, you’re not really that important anyway, and if you stop worrying about it so much, you just might find yourself smiling a little more, enjoying your life a little more.

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