Things I Wished I Didn’t Care About

March 2nd, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  5 Comments

Some studies just shouldn’t be done. We know in the abstract that humans are basically constantly swimming in fecal bacteria. Can’t we leave it in the abstract? No, apparently. “Science” had to go looking for more details. First came reports that iPhone screens are bacteria farms (perhaps because the guys at College Humor keep playing Angry Birds in the bathroom). Now another everyday item, shopping carts, have been swabbed. From

Researchers from the University of Arizona swabbed shopping cart handles in four states looking for bacterial contamination. Of the 85 carts examined, 72 percent turned out to have a marker for fecal bacteria.

The researchers took a closer look at the samples from 36 carts and discovered Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, on 50 percent of them — along with a host of other types of bacteria.

“That’s more than you find in a supermarket’s restroom,” said Charles Gerba, the lead researcher on the study and a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. “That’s because they use disinfecting cleaners in the restrooms. Nobody routinely cleans and disinfects shopping carts.”

The study’s results may explain earlier research that found that kids who rode in shopping carts were more likely than others to develop infections caused by bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter, Gerba said.

I am against the tidal wave of sanitizing gels, wipes, and cleaners that have flooded the lives of children. I understand that to rail against the fecality of modern living is to fight an endless mind battle in which victory can only be achieved by becoming a weirdo in a hazmat suit like Michael Jackson.

But this sounds awful. Can someone remind me that it is actually OK for kids to leave the house?


  1. Tim says:

    March 2nd, 2011at 9:20 am(#)

    It’s okay for everyone’s kids to leave the house. But just promise me, parents, that you’re teaching your kids to wash their hands with soap and running water after using the bathroom (and right before eating). Because while some of the bacteria on the carts probably comes from meat, chicken, etc. (which is horrible but probably a discussion for another day), some of it is also coming from people who take a crap and don’t wash their hands afterward.

    Who would do such a thing, you ask? Anyone. In 15 years of working for big companies in a white collar media industry, I have seen coworkers/colleagues (usually older guys, fwiw) take a poop and stroll right on out of the bathroom without washing (or just splashing a little water on the hands) too many times to count.

    I don’t know what the answer is, because I thought this was covered in Being a Human 101. Just wash your goddamn hands already, you filthy animals.

  2. Nathan says:

    March 2nd, 2011at 9:45 am(#)

    A beautiful sentiment. Perhaps some PSAs are in order: The More You Learn, The Less Likely You’ll Want to be Covered in Feces…

  3. TechyDad says:

    March 2nd, 2011at 12:47 pm(#)

    A while back the Mythbusters tested the myth that a toothbrush in the bathroom would be contaminated by fecal matter tossed in the air during flushing. They arranged toothbrushes in various spots in their bathroom, used them to brush their teeth daily and then tested them for fecal bacteria. All came back positive.

    Meanwhile, they also had a control that sat covered in another room for the entire time. That one came back positive for fecal bacteria.

    The lesson here is that fecal bacteria is on pretty much everything. As disgusting as that sounds, it is ok because our immune systems can fight those bacteria off just fine.

  4. Daddy Files says:

    March 2nd, 2011at 3:49 pm(#)

    It gets easier if you embrace the fecal-filled world in which we now live.

    My son and I have taken to simply throwing our droppings at each other during arguments. And sometimes just when we’re sitting around watching TV. But it’s fine, because I give him a bath twice a week.

  5. Nathan says:

    March 2nd, 2011at 5:57 pm(#)

    You are an amazing father. Keep up the good work, and whatever you do, don’t let Child Protective Services in the house.

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