Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Lack Of Common Sense

There was a time when it seemed just about everybody had what was called “common sense.” An idea of what should be done in certain situations in life. One can debate whether common sense is something that we are born with, or that is instilled in us by our parents. Either way, it tends to be something that all of us possess (thus the word “common”).

But lately I have been seeing situations that lead me to believe that this “something,” has gone the way of black and white television and buggy whips.

Case in point is the picture of a sign that accompanies this essay. I see this sign almost every day. It is a sign that is in the men’s room on the floor of the office tower that I work in. This is an extremely detailed sign explaining to adults the proper way one should wash their hands.

Now, I’ve managed to survive my childhood, getting through the educational process. In my grade school, at the tender age of six, when I was just learning to grasp the intricacies of the written word in the English language, I didn’t have a detailed sign like this one explaining the proper procedure in hand washing.

I suspect that one of the reasons is because at six, I had already had it drilled into my head, both by my parents and also by my kindergarten teacher the year before, as to what to do when my hands come in contact with water, soap and a sink. Yet, here I am, almost a half century later, being told how to wash my hands.

At least the sign suggests that perhaps we are adult enough to make our own choice of washing our hands with, or without water. Still, with the no-water option, I do find it somewhat vague. It mentions “rub hands together in a circular motion.” It does not, however, instruct us as to whether that circular motion is clockwise or counter-clockwise. Then again, with our complete loss of common sense, and the fact that the whole world has gone digital, perhaps they assumed we wouldn’t know what clockwise was.

I also find it interesting that in the washing-with-water option, you are to “scrub for 10-15 seconds . . . your wrists, forearms, between your fingers, and under your nails.” This method reminds me of every medical show I’ve every seen where a doctor is scrubbing in for surgery. But do I really need to clean all the way up to my elbow after using the washroom? Just how sloppy are some people in there? Have they been helping to birth a calf? If I’m in need of doing something in a public washroom that requires washing my elbows, I either need serious medical attention, a complete change of diet or an exorcist.

But, I guess under the banner of better safe than sorry, the powers that be feel it is important to give the information because, as some recent statistics show, while 85% of public restroom users wash their hands . . . up from 77% in 2007 . . . men are still dirtier. About 23% of men failed to wash versus 7% of women; this according to some restroom spies.

So even though I’m thorough, and therefore feel insulted by the signage, I’m still faced with a major dilemma. If 23% of guys are not washing their hands at all, then after I meticulously finish up, just how do I get out of the washroom? The only thing between me and freedom is that door knob that a quarter of my gender has touched . . . uncleansed!

That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.


  1. Hehehehehe!!! So true! So true!

    It's amazing to me, just how many people lack common sense. I just don't get it.

    Maybe, just maybe. Some people could get away with saying that they are from another country and didn't grow up with our customs....
    (I'm not sure I'd that would include hand washing.)

    But most of these people grew up here.
    I think a lot of common sense falls by the way side, because of pure laziness.

    And it always amazes me to see a really pretty, well dressed, put together women, walk out of the bathroom stall, walk over to the sink and look at her face, fluff her hair and maybe even touch up her makeup. And then WALK OUT, WITH OUT WASHING HER FLIPPING HANDS!!!! Ahhhhhhh!

    Out side of the washroom, people would think, this women is so clean and put together. Little do they know.

    I just thought of men, who walk around shaking peoples hands, after shaking their little members clean and not washing their hands. Eeewwwww!

    I think Howie Mandel may be on to something. Hmmmm?

    Have a great day!!!!

  2. The world is so much more global today with people coming from many different cultures, experiences and backgrounds. There are a lot of places where water is scarce or polluted and what we in 'modern' countries consider common sense hygiene is simply not easily available or even known. When I read a sign like that I am thinking about those regions and people, some of whom may have ended up in our part of the world, unfamiliar with our habits which are obvious to us.

  3. Good one! It is all a part of the same CYA mentality which now forces makers of coffee cup lids to emboss the warning that the 'contents are hot' around the perimeter. More and more, people blame others for their own stupidity which results in Big Brother having to cover for them.

  4. Whatever definition one uses, identifying particular items of knowledge as "common sense" becomes difficult. Common-sense ideas tend to relate to events within human experience.
    Pete, I'm glad that you have brought up the subject of washrooms.
    Being handicapped (left leg amputated), however using a prosthesis I find it very frustrating at times the lack of respect one may have to handicap washrooms.
    On the door there is a pictogram of a wheelchair...what type of moron, who is not handicapped has the right to this facility. It is reserved for handicapped people for a specific reason...grab bars...the toilet bowl is not as low to the ground.
    So you see Peter, it is not just common sense it is also common respect.
    Have a good one my friend!

  5. I like signs like this because they give me something to read in the bathroom! And, this one lets me compare the translations, and brush up on my French. No harm can come from it, so what is the problem? I have seen adults who don't know how to correctly use a broom and dustpan, and maybe there are some who have been incorrectly washing their hands for years. So just lighten up and tolerate the "insult" of this message, which may or may not be directed at you.

  6. Maybe it isn't that people don't have common sense any more, but that what's common is different than what used to be common. The thing with the signs is kinda a sign of progress to me. We live in a safer world where people are protected from many of the things that killed and injured our parents. We have learned that, in some instances, putting a safety / instruction label on a thing can be more effective than assuming someone else's education.

  7. It could also be posted just to cover the butt of the establishment where the poster is posted. I wonder if it has any effect on the dirty people out there who don't wash their hands-you know who you are people! I suspect only the clean handed people really read it because it confirms what they already know and do.

  8. It should be also noted that the washroom is the cleanest place as it is cleaned several times during the day by somebody. What about the public telephone?? Who is cleaning it??? There should be instructions how to use them without touching them.

  9. IF you sing "Happy Birthday" twice while you wash your hands you will hit the 15 second recommended time. Ah the things I learn from Oprah.

  10. These people that need these signs are probably the same ones that smoke next to no smoking signs. How about a sign on how to brush your teeth, I've run into many of the people that apparently don't know how to do this correctly either.