Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Give me a hand…

Posted by w_thames_the_d on November 26, 2009

Just went to Wodoumei, that bakery here that really doesnt suck, and I was reminded of an episode of Time Warp. Confusing, well let me explain. In the episode of Time Warp, they had a vignette whereby they wanted to show how bacteria can be spread from person to person. To illustrate this, they "infected" a man and had him join in a group of people who were playing cards. The "infection" was actually some sort of paint that was not visible to the naked eye, but merely a substance that was painted on his face. After a few hours they would use one of those fancy detective-like devices to illuminate the "bacteria" and show how much bacteria can be spread in a matter of hours.

After two hours or so, the place was infested. The man who was initially infected had touched his face, his glass, the cards, the chips etc. and basically all of the members of the group were exposed to the bacteria. This got me thinking…

I went to Wodoumei, and the process for getting food is the following:
-enter, grab a serving plate (unsanitized) from a community bin
-grab a pair of tongs (unsanitized) from a community bin
-proceed to food
-cashier takes your tongs puts your item in a bag
-cashier takes your money (doesn’t sanitize hands)
-cashier makes change
-cashier replaces tongs and serving plate (all unsanitized)
process is repeated.

Now, as of yet, I have not experienced food poisoning or anything of that sort during my 2 years in China, but that show got me thinking. If you just imagine what I have described, you can see the tremendous potential for me as a consumer to be exposed to the bacteria of others.

Then I began to think some more…In the subway and in the streets we see many people with those face masks, the ones that will keep us from getting the piggy flu. My question is this: Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest all of the money spent on masks etc. for some hand sanitizer, or even classes in elementary hygiene?

It astounds me, as I stated, I have yet to get sick here and in EVERY country I have been to, but China, I have gotten sick while my body adjusts to the local microbes etc. I really dont understand why it hasn’t happened here. Maybe they have some seriously benign microbes or there is some collective unspoken will developed over thousands of years that doesnt permit the passing of the bad bacteria. Either way, I have learned to accept it, knock on wood and hoep for the best.

today no snow in Beijing, I am just living… and learning the culture…

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