Friday, October 2, 2009

No More Handshakes? Fist Bumps All Around!

I'm seriously thinking about trying this.  I've always been germ conscious.  But ever since I started full time work, with the interviews and all, the handshakes have become much more regular than they were before that time in life.  It wasn't so bad at first, when interviews were just every now and then.  I think the turning point was when I got to the job I'm at now.  On my first day, my supervisor took me around and introduced me to everybody in the branch, meaning everybody on our floor (6th) and the 4th floor.  I had to shake the hand of about 50+ people.  I think with a few people, at first it wasn't so bad.  But after I started shaking soooo many people's hands, I started thinking about what they've touched.  I saw guys who had their shoes off in their offices, who could have been touching their feet then shaking my hand.  I started thinking about the people who are probably sneezing, coughing, and scratching things, then shaking my hand.  And don't even get me started on the people that don't wash their hands in the bathroom - Jason has seen it firsthand, and my boss said he's seen it firsthand in our actual branch.  I shudder now just thinking about shaking all those people's hands.  I mean, my hand literally had that dirty smell to it, you know, after you've been playing outside for a while or something - yeah that, except just from shaking hands.  Blegh.

So now, I'm at the point where I always make sure I haven't been touching public items if I'm about to eat my snacks or lunch.  If I go down to the copier, I wash my hands afterwards.  I push all the elevator buttons with my knuckles instead of fingertips.  I keep my keyboard sanitized if someone from IT comes to work on it.  I really don't even like people borrowing my pens, but I try to shake that feeling if it happens.  But most of all, I shudder every time I have to shake hands with someone now.  Cold... clammy... rough... hot... whatever.  And all I think about is the unknown of where that hand has been.  And if it's at the beginning of a meeting, then I have to sit there the whole time wanting to go wash my hands.  Ick.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't go around using hand sanitizer every 5 minutes.  Although I do keep it with me, and I use it after the gas pump, handling cash, etc.  But I realize how easy it is to sit at a desk and touch my face without realizing it.  I try to remind myself to not do it, but it's also helpful if I avoid the germs in the first place.  Anyway, this may be partly confession, and partly me putting the question out there asking if I'm crazy.  I honestly don't think so.  I think I'm finally just aware of the total lack of personal hygiene some people have, and it grosses me out.  And I'm finally aware of the many surfaces people's germs can be that can affect me.

And it's partly unfortunate that I'm thinking this way, because my dad raised me from Square 1 to have a firm handshake.  I've always liked that I have a firm handshake.  I've even gotten complements on it.  And I've even read that women with firm handshakes supposedly get looked at more on the same equal level as men.  Not that I'm worried about that as an issue, but it's just that I like my firm handshake. :-) And a handshake is our widely known symbol of greeting people and showing good intentions.  But my desire to avoid other people's germs whenever I have the control to overrides that at the moment.

So I heard about this on the radio the other day - how some sports were considering banning the handshakes, due to the swine flu, and encouraging the fist bump.  I personally love this idea.  So I seriously think I might try it.  If someone offers their hand, I'll just offer my fist instead and say, "Oh, I do the fist bump, no hand shakes."  It'd be interesting to see what kind of responses I get.  Maybe I can still get the greeting and good intentions part across with a nice smile and a "How are you? Nice to see you."  Hmmm... any thoughts?

Fist Bumps (I know it's past the official "Day" date of July 7, but it's still got good information on it - check out the story under Founder.)


Sydney said...

Stu and I saw this on the Colbert Report and got to talking about and here are both of our takes on it: I think it's an awesome idea. I, too, hate shaking hands with some people because I can only think of the gross places their hands could have been between washings. But Stu thought it was a disrespectful way to meet someone. He thought it was unnecessary and juvenile. So there you have it! From two of us at least! :)

Sarah said...

Very interesting! And that's exactly my problem, haha - I agree with both of those thoughts. I can't stand the thought of where people's hands have been, but I don't know if my thoughts of disrespecting someone would override that fear or not, just because I've been so ingrained with shaking hands.

MAMMA said...

I shake hands, but thanks to this post I will now constantly be thinking of the GERMS!!! I work in a Lab and there are germs all around so I have trained myself to be extra careful, but there is just no good way to avoid the handshake - fist bumping is just too juvenile for me....
P.S. I hate it when you give a nice firm handshake to a man and they have tried to "go easy" on you (because you are a girl..)and you just about break their hand because its all limp - Yuck!! - what a turn-off!! :-)

Sarah said...

Yeah, I had a meeting last night, and I shook hands with 3 different people. I thought about the fist bump each time, haha, and couldn't bring myself to do it. So I just avoid my face after shaking hands.

And I hear ya on the limp handshakes. Most that do it to me are older gentleman who were raised to do it that way for women. Haha it's always weird thought because I have this firm grip, and I start to do it then feel like I'm going to break their fingers because that's all they gave me to shake!

Wolfpack79 said...

In the environment you are in on a "day-to-day" basis, I'd be inclined to the following:
1. If there are individuals with whom you see "daily" and a handshake greeting is a standard event, then maybe a change would be received with little thought or comment ... but only you can "read" this one.
2. Introdcutions to new personnel or when meeting / greeting management (i.e persons "above" your pay grade)- especially if an initial meeting / greeting, then I'd say such might be frowned upon and/or considered disrespectful.

Also, since many in management within your office or division are likely "older" (i.e. around your old man's age), the handshake is the norm ... and your firm one clearly makes its mark.

Wolfpack79 said...

I like hugs myself !!

Sarah said...

Dad - totally agree. That's why I couldn't convince myself to fist bump the mayor of Selma last night, haha! He's a really nice guy, but I think I would have sent my reputation downhill with that one! :-) I did tell our RPO rep about this though, and he thought it was interesting! (especially since my boss was there, and his son has the H1N1...)

I like hugs better too - but only with those of you I luuuuuuuv. :-D How about those big smacks on the cheek from Uncle Gary?