On an average day, what did you touch that someone else has already touched--or will touch after you?
Consider a day at work or school. If the entrance doesn't have an electric eye and automatic opening device, then you touch the handle to open it. If you go up or down stairs, you will probably at some point grab the handrail. If you use an escalator, you will probably balance with the ever-rotating hand hold at some point. Elevators mean you will punch the button to call the elevator and then punch the button to get to the desired floor.
If you purchase something and use cash, you will handle the bills and change offered to the server and then do the same with any bills or change coming back. Paper money just teems with bacteria, by the way so anyone who handles it regularly touches thousands of other people per day just by that work alone.
If you use a public restroom, you will probably have to open the door to get in and then open and close the door to the stall and, unless it is an auto-flush, you will also have to use the handle to flush the wastes away. And then re-open the stall and touch the handles on the faucet and the soap dispenser to wash away the dirt (we can only hope so, anyway). Finally, you touch the door handle to exit the space. Public diaper changing tables anyone? Do we really want to know?
If you go clothes shopping and try on garments, have you ever considered that someone may have tried them on before you--and left their bacterial mark on them? Shall we even talk about grocery cart handles? Or foodstuffs in grocery stores that someone might have picked up and then put back for you to pick up later? At the very least, the stockers had to touch them. What about the magazines at the check out counter that you peruse and return when in a long, slowly moving line?
If you work in any office environment, have you considered who used the copy machine, phone or fax before you? Computer keyboards are notoriously filthy.
Since we all now check ourselves in at airline kiosks, try not to even guess how many people used that terminal before you put your code in for your boarding pass. And who used the tub before you for their stinky shoes? As for the airline, bus, or other public transportation seats--I urge you not to picture who sat there before you. Trust me, it didn't get a steam clean between occupancies.
ATM's anyone? How many grubby hands touched it just the hour before? Same with the canisters that drive-in banks use.
Watch out for that light switch--goodness only knows what the previous people who flipped it on or off carried on their hands.
As for paying for purchases, most of us swipe our own credit cards these days. but not always--and the hand that just took it had also just held dozens of others.
Consider the restaurants--somebody wrapped that silverware that comes to your table. Someone else at the very least breathed on the food that was served to you--and probably handled it as well.
Doctor's offices anyone? Who DID read that out-of-date magazine before you picked it up? Or used the pen on the counter to sign in before you picked it up?
It's not a huge leap to real germaphobia here. In truth, each of us lives with millions of bacteria colonies all over us. Viruses live in airborne droplets; danger lurks around each corner. That is the nature of life.
So, I'm suggesting an alternative to retreating to a world that insists on being germ free. Instead of focusing on how much bacteria you are being exposed to each day, and how much you are exposing others to your own highly bacterially-colonized hands and body, consider how much goodness you can give away with each encounter.
Try offering a silent or spoken blessing each time you touch anything, offering gratefulness to God for the privilege of living in a world where we can touch each other, where we can go to school and work and shop and travel and interact with one another. Pray for the person who sat before you and who will sit after you. Thank those who serve you and handle your dirty money in exchange. Spend time praising the Holy One for the mystery of our human bodies, so complex and amazingly able to stay healthy most of the time despite continued assaults on it. We'll never get rid of the germs, nor should we. But we can turn curse into blessing and touch the world with healing. Sure beats turning into a tortured hermit.