Yesterday’s “Jump Start” comic strip made a great point.
Here it is.
A lot of people are horrified at the thought of using a public bathroom barefoot. I prefer to look at it rationally and ask if there really are any hazards to doing so.
The thing is, there is nothing on the floor there that will get through the skin on our feet, assuming we don’t have an open wound. So while the thought of stepping in anything might be yucky, there is really nothing that it will do to us.
Furthermore, as you walk away from the public restroom, whatever you stepped on will get wiped off, so that by the time you are 100 feet or so away (W.A.G.), there is nothing on your feet any more. (Note that the shod are also speading “materials” out the door, except for the stuff that got caught in the treads of theirs shoes.)
But what about hookworm, you ask? Hookworm needs at least 5 days to develop from the eggs that are released into feces (and they also need specific environmental conditions). Public restrooms are cleaned way more often than that.
But contrast all this with the comic strip. We already know that many folks don’t wash their hands afterwards. Then, those that do touch the same bathroom door knob that’s been touched by those who haven’t washed their hands.
And then those hands are used to touch all sorts of things, like your eyes and your mouth and food and other people’s hands.
Actually, even that doesn’t worry me all that much. Every year we see stories about how contaminated our bathrooms are, and how contaminated our kitchens are. Yet very few of us get sick from it. We have immune systems that work pretty well, and are often primed by exposure to that stuff. Of course, that doesn’t mean the contamination is particularly good—it hurts those with weaker immune systems, so we should be careful.
But that gives even more ammunition to the idea that a little bit down on our feet for a short period of time just isn’t hazardous to us at all.
While I’m at it, let me talk about dog poo and bare feet.
When you are shod and step in hidden dog poo, you probably won’t even know about it. You’ll track it around, maybe even into your house, without noticing it until either you smell it or you see little blobs on your floor.
However, when you are barefoot, you know about it immediately, because you can feel it. Then you can clean it off immediately. The only downside is that it can be harder to clean from between toes (though, really, that’s not much harder than cleaning shoe treads).
Thus, I really don’t let it bother me to use a public restroom.