Rhonda's A 'Muse'-ing Rambles

Life and Times of a Busy Woman

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Cold & Flu season

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on January 28, 2010

As I sit here at my desk, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, a light bulb flashed on. You see, all these years I used to think my mom suffered from some kind of OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] – but was some of it mainly good sense?

I never questioned her methods when I was a child, but one of the things I remember intensely when we lived in the Middle East is how my mom treated our food from the local markets, stores and Souk. When she would go to the store, she would often wear a pair of gloves and use her gloved hands to select items from the shelf. Then, when we got home, there would be a couple of routines she would follow.

First, with the fresh veggies, she would boil some water, add a small amount of bleach to it, then rinse all the vegetables and fruits, first in the bleach water, then in some clean boiled water. I understood that one and often helped her with the chore since people had mentioned there were a lot of dirt and germs on the fresh produce. OK, I bought into that and still to this day at least use my tap water to rinse all my produce.

Next was the boxed and bagged goods that had grain products. We would shake out all the cereal to make sure there were not any weevils and we would sift the flour through a fine strainer and remove any ‘dark’ splotches that often WERE weevils and such. With this, mom always mentioned that there always were bugs in the grains and sometimes they hadn’t hatched yet when they were packaged. Again, to this day, I have a tendency to sift through my flour products to remove that extra ‘protein’. Not much like that happens anymore [finding the little buggers], but still, once  in a while, I will find them.

Now, the last one, the idea that struck me today. Mom always wiped the boxes, cans and bottles before she put them on the shelf or in the ‘fridge. This is what I mistook as an OCD type behavior. Maybe I was wrong? To get back to my current snuffling: While I can probably blame some of it on the ever-changing weather in Texas and the current allergy season, what if my cold like symptoms came from the store? Yesterday, while going down the Soda aisle, a gentleman that was stocking up a very popular soft drink starting with the letter ‘D’, I noticed the man sneeze [hard to miss that huge honking blow!] Immediately, I decided I was not about to put that snot sprinkled product in MY cart – nor the products to either side. fortunately, the one I wanted was way down at the other end and I had no problem putting it in my basket and getting to a sneeze free zone. I thought nothing more of it – until just a few moments ago. Who are the people who handle the boxes and cans and all other products they stock on the shelves at your local supermarket? There are people packaging the products at bakeries, factories & canning facilities. Then people who move them around the warehouse or stack them on the trucks. Then unload the trucks at the store followed by placing them on the shelves. Some people walk around and pick up a can or box, read the label and put it back. Kids are sneaking things into their parents carts and mom or dad will surreptitiously sneak it back on the shelf. They are people just like you and I and THEY GET GERMS. And sneeze, and rub their noses, and possibly, don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom [oh, don’t go there!] So they may sneeze, put up some great cereal boxes. Then cough over the display of cans they are arranging. Or let a dribble nosed toddler carry something around until it gets tired of it, then place it back on a shelf for some unwary clerk to take back to the shelves.

My mom wasn’t OCD, but with the way germs are spreading, perhaps I should be! Maybe that soda delivery guy got one little germ on my twelve pack of sodas and I brought it home. Now, I am not suddenly going to become obsessed with this, but maybe I will be a little more cautious and careful. Already I am thinking of the hotel I will be staying in next week with people from all over the country attending a writer’s convention. Should I take my can of cleaning product and some hand sanitizer? Wear a mask when I enter a room full of people? Yea, the mask probably wouldn’t match my socks, so I’ll skip that accessory. But it can’t hurt to be a little more careful with the everyday items we bring into our homes. I am not a domestic goddess – far from it in fact, so these extra little steps are going to require some work, but I definitely will put some thought into it, and you should as well.

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