#362: Lávate las manos!

#362: Lávate las manos! (Wash your hands!)

What is the prime rule of retail? Some sources say it’s an employee’s presentation, from language to punctuality to appearance. A knowledgeable staff is absolutely important, and even trumps friendliness. Friendliness without knowledge in a retail environment doesn’t help the customer. Customer service is clearly important, as is leading by example, which I tried to do myself. Other sources say convenience is king. An online presence is a must, but in brick and mortar stores, what truly is the one prime, cardinal rule of retail?

I say it’s a simple one. Wash your hands!

Research suggests that in the United States, 22 million days of work are lost per year just by common illnesses spread in the conventional ways. When a sick employee does manage to make it into work, their productivity is reduced due to lack of energy and focus. They risk spreading the illness further, and also disgusting potential customers with their coughing and sneezing.

It’s easy enough to reduce the spread just by making sure your employees are washing their hands. According to the CDC, “Handwashing is like a ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) that you can take to reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illness so you can stay healthy. Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.” By “certain activities”, I can tell you that buying used CDs off the public certainly qualified. At the Record Store, we had a bottle of hand sanitizer at the register, so I could quickly scrub up if there was no time to hit the washroom.

I have seen some gross, disgusting substances on CDs that I and my staff have handled. That doesn’t even include the invisible germs that were on a lot of them! Sticky CDs and CD cases were quite common. When I first started out, I caught hell from the boss because I didn’t want to buy a box of CDs from a guy who had very few discs without yucky, sticky CD cases! Most of the time, we couldn’t identify the goo, although we were fairly certain that some had been covered with semen before. (Needless to say, we passed on the semen CD, no complaints from bosses that time.)

The most disturbing health risk that I witnessed was covering the in-demand box set called Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys. It was covered in blood – still wet, as the guy selling it to us was actually bleeding from his hands at that moment! The staff guy who was handling the set, Jason, quietly announced, “I have to go and wash my hands – they are covered with blood.” The customer then laughed and said, “Yah, that’s me. But don’t worry, I ain’t got AIDS or nothin’.”

With hindsight, I seemed to be sick all the time. Handling all that dirty money and those filthy CDs, it was almost impossible to keep my hands clean. All it takes is one itchy eye to rub without thinking, and BAM! You’ve got a virus! At the Record Store I suffered from all sorts of ailments, as did we all. I also felt a certain amount of pressure to show up for work even when I was under the weather, so I tended to work through it.

I would give the same advice to customers and staff alike: There is only one prime rule of retail. If you want to stop spreading all those filthy germs, lávate las fucking manos!



  1. Oh my god, I agree so much. I have had so many massive rants about handwashing in my day. I also used to work on an outdoor tram and we’d have our lunch on the tram, and I was the only one who’d wash my hands before eating, after serving hundreds of customers with their money, their sick kids, opening the rusty oily doors and grabbing the super germy hand rails.
    And out in public, you’re in the mall and you see some guy come out of a stall, clearly after having a dump, and barge off to the food court without washing their hands?
    I don’t know why these people aren’t getting the message?
    I’ve even seen people working in hospitals do it in my time, and you just think… are you going to make someone MORE sick, jerk!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. AMEN!
    “I ain’t got AIDS or nothin'”…right. What about Hepatitis B or C? Sure, you don’t get HIV, but Hep is nothing to joke about either. Why do you think Twinrix is recommended for Caribbean trips? Because of Hep! You certainly don’t anticipate having to take a Twinrix while working at the record store!
    When I worked at the hospital, anytime anything came back to the kitchen from a patient’s tray that had a sharps (needle), blood anywhere or “body fluids” was always put in isolation, and the floor would be notified. This was serious stuff. I’d wash my hands raw.
    People can be nasty. I see it in the ladies room too. Women who spend over 10 minutes in the stall (and they aren’t peeing), flush (or don’t) and walk away. So disgusting.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah…pink eye, sinusitis…all in a day’s work. Students show up sick all the time, coughing and hacking…I am right behind them spraying the lysol on my keyboard, desk, etc, etc…I ask why they come to school sick – they have a learning disability and are afraid of missing something. I understand, but you’re passing around your plague which isn’t good either!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Never had pink eye, this guy, but I don’t know how!

          I was always WISHING I was sick enough to stay home from school without a guilty conscience! After school when I started at the store…I just had this nagging feeling in my head that you were expected to show up until you physically couldn’t get out of bed, you know?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I have that work ethic…got it from my mom and she got it from my grandmother. You went to school sick, or you were faking it. I still have near perfect attendance in my area at work, or at least have the most sick days available in the coffers.
          Pink Eye sucks. I remember three incidences of Pink Eye. The last time, I was 24 and it was gastly. I won’t ew you with the deets, but it was prolly the worst I had ever had. So sore.
          At xmas, I had something going on with my eye that I thought was Pink Eye (it wasn’t – I have psoriasis on my eyelids, and my eye was just irritated). I marched over to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some Polysporin eye drops. Couldn’t find them anywhere. Asked the Pharmacist. She said, “Oh yeah, we’ve been hiding them in the back…they’re subject to theft!” “Wha…?” Indeed: a tiny eye dropper bottle of polysporin costs $18. Wow. Pink Eye is also expensive without a Rx.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Good to know! Here’s hoping I don’t get pink eye! My boss had it when I first started at my current job, he has 3 kids, but he came to work with sunglasses on and I never saw it…

          We should switch to a more upbeat subject than pink eye.

          How bout the Leafs???? Oh nevermind!!

          Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s not. They never look new after that, they always look cloudy. It was to save money so we didn’t have to replace every case. New cases were 11 cents each or so, and we would put out a few hundred used CDs every day.


  3. Lordy. There’s one secondhand store in particular that I’ve stopped going to because I always felt like my hands were heavier when I left the place. Everything seems coated it something. Always needed to wash them as soon as I got the opportunity …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My last job (before my current Most Amazing Job Ever) was working on the front lines as a teller at a very busy bank.Wanna know what’s also really disgusting and sick-making? MONEY. Filthy filthy filthy money. Oh, and of course everyone walking up and coughing/hacking/sneezing/drooling (yes, drool)/generally being gross all over my wicket. Dirty dirty public with their nasty filthy money.

    You’ll have handled cash at the store too, though not likely in the volume I did at the bank. We went through so much hand sanitizer I think our branch was probably part owner of the company.

    Yuck yuck yuck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yuck indeed!!!

      My dad is an ex banker. He always taught us kids, “there is nothing dirtier than money!” your bank could rival the local hospital waiting room in terms of viruses in house!


  5. Personally I think the custom of hand shaking is over rated. I think people of other cultures are better off. Perhaps bowing, or even better a head nod, is a better way to greet another. I always have it in the back of my mind that I will probably get sick. I absolutely hate when some asshole that is sneezing and coughing shakes my hand, but because I am a good Canadian boy I still won’t refuse to shake his/her hand. If I have a cold etc. I will tell the person when we meet that I have a cold, and I understand if they don’t want to shake my hand. This is just common courtesy.
    I think there should be something done about people that don’t wash their hands after using the rest room. Perhaps the door will not open until hands are washed, a sign lights up outside the rest room, and a loudspeaker blares out that tells others about the non-washer inside. All people that break this rule will be fined, sent to hand washing classes, made to clean clogged sewage pipes, and forced to wear a sign for a week that explains that they refuse to wash their hands.
    Never having to handle cd’s covered in bodily fluids again. Reason # 101 why it was better to leave the record store.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this post Brian! I agree — let’s have a “hands are not washed” alarm. Craig Fee would ABSOLUTELY agree with us on thst one.

      Andrew Dice Clay used to say, “I hate hand shaking. Why don’t we do something else, like tap heads?”


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