Handwashing To Handshakes


I am not the OCD hand washer. I follow a simple routine after using the bathroom, after helping my kids use the bathroom, handling raw meat or eggs, taking out the trash, cleaning the cat litter box, using the delivery person’s pen for my signature, petting animals, using public transport, touching surfaces many people touch like shopping carts or railings, holding my daughters’ hands after they’ve been touching all of these things, and shaking hands with people. Sounds reasonable right? Depends on the routine.

Using soap and water and toweling off, drive my routine. Again, reasonable?

OK, this is where I cannot get my brain around the hand washing (or lack thereof) in my new city of Melbourne, Australia. Since I arrived just over a month ago, I’ve had the opportunity to go to many places, widely public and also small intimate places. Some with animals, some with prestigious tennis players, some with food, some with books, malls, port-a-johns, train stations so the sampling is diverse! What I’ve witnessed in the majority of these places is varying degrees of the “hand wash”. At zoos and port-a-johns, there’s been no soap in any of the dispensers, forcing hand washers like me to resort to my always-on-hand antibacterial gels or wipes. At the Australian Open and some restaurants, I’ve seen several women do a quick rinse with no attempt to lather up, proceed to use the Dyson high powered hand dryer and then apply another coat of makeup. As much as I adore Dyson products, I will never use an AirBlade hand dryer again, on top of learning they potentially loosen gemstones in rings. I must be the outlier who insists my children wash their hands even if I have to hold them up to the sink. I have to date seen zero children wash their hands with soap after doing any activity, including bathroom usage. Maybe because the soap is always out?

Because my only perspective is the female hand washing routine, I dread to learn of the male habits. Which now brings me to handshakes with men. I’ve seen a fair amount of “tradies” (workmen) in our rental house for a multitude of repairs. Every single one of them must think I am a delicate flower that will be crushed under their massive strength of a handshake. That also goes for the car salesmen that sold us our 2 vehicles, the owner of our rental house, our neighbors, and new acquaintances. I really thought I was crazy until I brought it up to my husband. A strong, sometimes overly firm handshake was his data input to my study. Why not wrestle right then and there for the fair maiden spectator?

I’ve always given a firm handshake, both in business and personally. It’s the only one I know how to do and one that represents me as genuine. If it’s not firm, it’s not authentic. Doesn’t have to be a bone crusher, just direct and real or don’t do it at all.

Now that I’ve grasped the pattern and correlation here, I am now avoiding the handshake like the Plague; which considering the hand washing habits, looks like I can escape if it comes around again.