Is It Time to Stop Shaking Hands?
The past 12 months have been quite the ride for germophobes like me. The SouthCoast spent a summer in which many of us were paranoid about spending time outside in fear of mosquitoes, to a winter that has ushered in constant talk about the new coronavirus.
It can be a lot for a guy like me. I mean, I'm a germophobe when it comes to things like catching a cold or a stomach bug. The picture above is more than 10 years old during the whole "swine flu" epidemic. I took measures into my own "hands" using this back scratcher to shake hands at a trade show at White's of Westport. The coronavirus, though, is testing my limits. It's a new level of germophobia for me.
I've been washing my hands (singing "Happy Birthday" in my head while I do it) roughly once every hour or two. I feel like it's inevitable. Every time I finish washing my hands, I'll walk into a meeting with a client or some people visiting from a record label, and I'll have unspoken social pressure to shake hands.
It has me wondering, why do we even shake hands in the first place? I had heard that centuries ago, adversaries would shake hands in a show of goodwill to demonstrate that they were not carrying any weapons. The History Channel echoed this theory, even explaining that "the up-and-down motion of the handshake was supposed to dislodge any knives or daggers that might be hidden up a sleeve."
While I always appreciate a good gesture of peace, I think I'd rather forego the handshake for now until this coronavirus thing gets a little more stable. I'd like to think no one in my meeting has a knife or spear stashed up their sleeve.
But really, is it time to stop the handshakes? At least for now? I feel like it's probably going to be a hard habit to break, but it's one worth exploring.
Think about it: don't you always appreciate it when you extend a hand to shake and the person on the other end denies it, explaining that they just got over a cold? I find it a warmer gesture than the handshake could ever be. The person is demonstrating genuine care for your health and well being. Such a better gesture than shaking germy hands.
Let's put the handshakes on hold.
Or I can always break out more of those back scratchers.