I used to work out in a gym called Stone’s Gym. There was a guy who worked there who wasn’t the smartest kid in the world. One time I watched him, on a dare, run his tongue along the entire length of the bench in the men’s lockerroom for $5. As nasty as that was, the thought of him kissing his girlfriend later that night was even nastier.
Recently, there was another Salmonella scare involving some frozen chicken dinners. After the recent E. coli outbreak and the resulting bans of spinach, tomatoes, and avocados in various regions of the country, I turned to the news expecting scores of frozen chickens to be ripped from the shelves.
This time, it seems, it was OUR fault! In the end, I learned that the chicken in question was frozen and packaged in a raw state. Furthermore, the instructions clearly stated that the chicken was to be “cooked at a temperature of 400 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the interior temperature reached 180 degrees.” So what did all of the geniuses that came down with salmonella have in common? They all microwaved their chicken for only a few minutes and ate it while it was still RAW inside! Read the directions, people.
This morning I heard a story on the news about a woman who contracted herpes of the eye from an airplane pillow. Seriously, she requires a cornea transplant now in order to retain her sight. People are going to have a variety of reactions to this news: some of them will boycott pillows, others will boycott airplanes, still others will shrug their shoulders and go back to sleep and continue to drool all over their airplane pillow.
People ask me all the time, “You travel a lot; what do you do about germs?” Well, I haven’t gone all “Howard Hughes” yet, but I did do one curious thing — I actually talked to my doctor. It doesn’t take many episodes of 60 Minutes illuminating a hotel room with a black light to make a person wonder about the residual “leavings” they’re sleeping and eating with. Then again, an episode of MythBusters proved that a brand new toothbrush left standing in an average living room would collect measurable traces of E. coli in under a week in a house with a bathroom in it. So how badly should we freak out?
My doctor says, “Don’t freak out too much, but do use some common sense.” He’s not an advocate of traveling with zip-top bags for the remote controls and telephones of the hotel world; instead his answer may surprise you. He said that by far, the number one preventive for the spreading of nasty bacteria was simply to wash your hands! So I do. I wash them all the time. I also use the hand sanitation goop and do you know what? I don’t get sick! I haven’t been sick more than one day in the past three or four years of traveling.
I do a few other commonsense things, too. I always strip the bed of any comforters or bedspreads that aren’t part of the hotel’s regular washing cycle. I don’t use airplane pillows or blankets unless they came right out of a plastic bag. I check any silverware I’ve been given to make sure there’s nothing stuck to it, and I don’t do anything crazy like putting the remote control in my mouth to free up my hands when turning down the bed!
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the Expert podcast show.