The Latest Sign of the Coming Apocalypse

The Latest Sign of the Coming Apocalypse


Cognitive Dissonance


On occasion Mrs. Cog accuses me of being a curmudgeon. And on more than a few occasions she is absolutely correct. I wear my cynicism on my sleeve, my face, my chest, everywhere in fact. No wonder we aren't invited to very many social events.

This morning we decided to visit the big city to do some specialty shopping, which when you live on a sparsely populated mountain means any place with more than 30 people per square mile. Our destination was to the outskirts of Virginia Tech, about 90 minutes north of the homestead.

That area of southwestern VA has a demographic solidly in the middle to upper middle class, particularly during the school year when thousands of students descend upon the area with pockets full of home, loan and student aid money. The full time local population is pretty well educated...whatever that means.

We stopped in a local chain eatery that serves up good (rather expensive) food advertised as (sort-of) nutritious, a favorite of Mrs. Cog's though not so much of mine. The restaurant shall remain nameless not just to protect the innocent, but because it's not important to the point of this story.

Of note, the employees working behind the counter and in the kitchen were almost exclusively white college age or older women with a smattering of similar aged men. The manager was an older white male. I mention this only because of what is to follow. They did not fit the stereotypical makeup of poor ethic non white employees often found performing the tasks many middle class Americans no longer wish to do.

After ordering, I excused myself and located the men's room. After taking care of business I turned to wash my hands and instantly noticed the sign pictured above securely attached to the paper towel dispenser.

I am of the opinion that learning the basics of hand washing is a fundamental skill learned during potty training, somewhere around 1 to 2 years of age, then reinforced over the next 16 or so year until the properly potty trained teenager is ushered out the door to an institution of higher learning or to fend for themselves.

I love you honey, now get out. I told you I'm a curmudgeon.

Over the last few decades I have grown accustomed to seeing signs in the men's room reminding employees to wash their hands. No doubt those signs are there to placate me, the food eating patron, more than to actually get the employees to wash their hands. If the employee isn't in the habit of washing off the stink after doing his business, no sign is going to change their evil ways.

But not until today have I seen a sign in a public restroom depicting in words and pictures the steps required to properly wash and dry their hands. In both English and (presumably) Spanish no less.

Upon rejoining Mrs. Cog I presented the picture above for her inspection. Her wordless head nod and pained facial expression indicated to me her agreement we are both witnessing in real time the rapid spiral down into the abyss of the coming apocalypse.

I assumed the sign was intended for the employees. But a closer inspection showed no indication it was directed exclusively towards the restaurant's worker bees. There were no other signs in the men's room to supplement this one, thereby directing employees only to follow their employer's orders. So I can only assume the sign was intended to be of general interest, for both employee and patron alike.

Oh woe is us.

I actually read each instruction carefully to see if they matched my own personal habits. After all, this dog is never too old to learn a few new tricks. Just ask Mrs. Cog how rapidly my personal training is progressing since we joined forces.

As impressed as I was to see they advised using a paper towel to shut off the water faucet, thereby preventing the transfer of germs and other crud from the handle to their now spic and span clean hands, I was dismayed to discover no mention of doing the same with the door handle on your way out.

Anyone who has visited a public restroom has witnessed many a man take care of business and then bypasses the sink entirely on the way out. My assumption has always been that the dirtiest object in any public restroom is the door handle and I have acted accordingly.

While there is no doubt in my mind some readers have just now labeled me a germ-o-phobe, in my defense I have noticed over the last few years more and more restaurants installing toe and arm devices allowing one to open the door without actually using their hands and/or fingers.

So I ain't the only one who doesn't wish to share my neighbor’s crud.

My own mental illness aside, the fact a restaurant feels compelled for whatever reason to post step by step instructions on the proper technique used to wash my (and presumably your) hands speaks loudly to the deteriorating state of affairs in this country.

This curmudgeon now returns you to your regularly scheduled programming already in progress.


Cognitive Dissonance

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