We’ve All Got Options

The world is a big place, full of choices for us all.


Hungry. Then, not hungry. (Image via Wikipedia)

We can go places. We can do things. We pick our friends and hobbies.

Even some of the things that we’d probably also agree are mandatory are, in truth, options. People aren’t supposed to steal, but they do. Some folks have never been much good at keeping jobs; I can’t imagine not having one.

Speaking Of Jobs, Let’s Talk About Someone Who Has One

As you might have picked up on in a previous post, I’ve been on a car trip this past week. Endless pavement, signs, other drivers…road food. Halfway through my drive toward home on Saturday it was lunch time. Of the options available a Subway sandwich shop seemed the best option.

A yellow metal trash can with a blue plastic l...

I'm not a germophobe, but these are kind of nasty (Image via Wikipedia)

I parked in front of the restaurant, which shared a building with a gasoline station. A man standing near where the two businesses joined caught my eye. He was standing there smoking, leaning with his hand palm down on a trash can. It just seemed an odd pose for anyone to take.

He wore clothing that looked like a work uniform, but I wasn’t close enough to tell if he worked for the gas station or the Subway. I decided he must be waiting for a ride because, well, I decide that sort of thing when I see people standing around.

It turns out I was wrong about Mr. Strange Trash Can Pose.

I went in to the restaurant and stood back from the counter  trying to decide what I’d order. Soon after, another man came in. He seemed to know what he wanted and went right to the counter. He was followed by Mr Trash Can Pose, who walked behind the counter and took the decisive man’s order.

Some Things Are Optional. We Each Make Choices.


Sure, it reads like a suggestion here, but it isn't. (Image by Ubi Desperare Nescio via Flickr)

Mr. Trash Can Pose took the man’s order, then began making his sandwich. I am not an expert on West Virginia restaurant hygiene laws, but I’m willing to bet there is a requirement that some hand washing should have occurred at this point. No such thing occurred.

Doubtlessly this hygiene wizard would be quick to point out that he put on a pair of plastic gloves as he transitioned from trash can leaning to sandwich making. I’d counter that he did so using the only two hands he had available – his smoking hand and his trash can hand.

We all make choices. Some choose to lean on trash cans, though they probably shouldn’t. Some choose not to wash their hands, though soap wouldn’t kill them. Some of us choose not to eat whatever was breeding on top of a trash can.


47 Comments on “We’ve All Got Options”

  1. Laura says:

    I think I see the misunderstanding here. The sign says:

    Employee must “wash hands”


    Employees must wash hands

    So clearly the sign applies to one employee, not all employees, and that employee probably wasn’t the one making sandwiches when you were there. Also, the scare quotes around “wash hands” indicate that whatever the requirement is, it’s something other than normal unquoted handwashing.

    On a semi-unrelated note, I hate trash cans like the one in your picture, where it’s nearly impossible to throw something out without touching the can.

    • omawarisan says:

      I liked the hand washing sign when I found the picture because the quotations make me think it is encouraging them to do something like going through the motions of washing their hands.

      I don’t know the purpose of those trash cans, unless it is to keep bears out. I want bears to throw their stuff away too.

    • I didn’t even notice the sign at first. That is truly odd.

      And by the way…EW to the original story.

  2. Just let me be the first (of many, I would imagine) to say: “EWWWW!” Maybe that’s how “Jared” lost all that weight eating there…food poisoning from employees who didn’t wash their hands!


  3. Kim Pugliano says:

    I am so totally the girl who would ask, “Ummmm…are you gonna wash your hands first?” Then I’d ask to speak with the manager and then I’d leave. I have no tolerance for that crap. Blech.

  4. First, like Laura, I wondered why only one employee was required to “wash hands.” And “wash hands” probably means in the figurative sense.

    Second, who casually puts their hand on a trash bin in the first place?

    Third, wasn’t there a Twilight Zone or some show like that where aliens controlled everyone and the hero figures out that someone’s an alien because of something like this very same problem? You may have had a lucky escape.

    • omawarisan says:

      On your casual hand on the trash bin point, I’ve just started noticing that at the bus stops in my city, the trash bins have a flat top with a small hole to accept the trash. People sit on them all the time. I see people standing, bent over with their head on their arms resting on them or my personal favorite, sitting on their hands.

      Oh man, I could be a pod person or something by now if I didn’t see that!

    • Laura says:

      I think you’ve got it — the sign is asking them to renounce something. As in, “I wash my hands of this whole ‘commitment to hygiene’ business”.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about not being able to imagine not working. Wait…double negative…is that right? I can’t imagine being unemployed. Yes, that’s what I mean. I have been working (albeit illegally at times) since I was 13…prior to that doing the paper route or babysitting thing. Since then, I believe there has been a total of 1 – 2 months where I was not employed – and that was simply because the school term had ended for the Christmas break and I was finished marking exams at that point.

    I hate going into a place where they make your food directly with their hands and you don’t see them washing their hands after they return from a break…heck…even after just using the cash register. At the same time, sometimes I feel a little bacteria with your lunch can help you build up your immunity. Still…it’s a little gross.

  6. Zahara says:

    A classic tale of personal hygiene gone wrong. Twice in the last year I’ve noticed “cooks” in their grimy aprons smoking near the front door of their establishments. Is the manager passed out in the wine cellar? Both of these restaurants were fancy and located “downtown”. One of the cooks was sitting slumped on a bench, puffing away with one hand and playing with his hair with the other, while through the window behind him gleamed polished wine glasses and bright white linens. Who would want to eat there after witnessing this? Not me. I think this subject needs a food network special show.

  7. Betty says:

    Blech, blech, blech. Wow. You should write promotional copy for the West Virginia Board of Tourism. It sounds irresistible.

    • omawarisan says:

      Actually, I hadn’t considered this was two West Virginia bashings in a row. For the record, it is a pretty place with a penchant for billboards with bleached blondes…and one sketchy Subway sandwich artist.

  8. Ewwwwww! I’m never going to eat out again. Well, at least for a day.

    Seriously though, that’s gross. Who touches a trash can? And who doesn’t wash their hands after? When I was working as a waitress, I washed my hands so much they were rough and dried out at the end of the day.

  9. Dang thats nasty! I think I’ll start cooking more again!

    • omawarisan says:

      What do you want on your sandwich?

      I’ll have lettuce, tomato, green pepper, salt and pepper…and whatever was growing on that petri dish of a trash can lid you were leaning on there, Jared.

  10. Todd Pack says:

    And that, my friends, is what you’d call a “fail.”

  11. Wendi says:

    Not to make you even more paranoid about the effectiveness of gloves but this report suggests that gloves alone aren’t enough for food safety. Well duh.

  12. Hippie Cahier says:

    What’s worse is his other job is probably at a strip club.

    Um, how was the foliage in WV?

  13. Pauline says:

    That is disgusting! A lot of people in retail and food industry (and people in general) also don’t realize also how filthy money is. It really carries all sorts of nasties too!

  14. jammer5 says:

    Aw, but the sign doesn’t say whose hands to wash. And there’s the crux of the problem. It seems nowadays, kids need to be exactly what to do, regardless of the job to be performed. The sign should read “Employees must wash their own hands after smoking, leaning on trash cans, using the bathroom or snorting coke, prior to returning to work.”

    • omawarisan says:

      Ah HAAA! That is probably it.

      He came in and I thought he said to the other guy ” can I help you?” But I think what I missed was that he said “can I help you wash your hands?”

  15. So how’d that sandwich taste??

    • omawarisan says:

      It was like no sandwich I’d ever had. Or more correctly, it was like not having a sandwich. Somehow the mix of juicy fruit and e coli I imagined growing on that can made me think better of ordering.

  16. Katybeth says:

    Is it possible he could have spit on his hands, wiped them on his pants, and then put on his plastic gloves?


  17. BWAHAHA. Please tell me chose to move on and not eat there.

  18. pattypunker says:

    philly just replaced all of the street cans with these ones that compress the trash and you have to open them with a handle. the fuck? all public trash cans should have open tops. there should be no touching of the surface where people are putting their trash or diving for food in.

  19. Keli says:

    Keep in mind that “hand washing” is a relative term. Had he engaged in so called hygiene, I can only imagine what that might consist of. Saliva and wiping on pants pockets? Also, I’m wondering if he didn’t work at the gas station as well. Many are holding down two jobs these days. And the proximity seems quite convenient.

  20. spencercourt says:

    OK, I gotta put on my curmudgeon hat here…. how many stories have yo read in the paper about someone getting sick at a restaurant because of no hand washing? I doubt it happens often; our stomachs put out some strong acid that will kill a lot of “ordinary” germs.

    But, we regularly read stories about huge outbreaks of salmonella poisoning from tainted peanut butter, ground beef, etc. Has anyone quit eating meat and/ or peanut butter? I didn’t think so.

    I lived in Asia for 18 years. I never got sick at any restaurant, and I assure you that sanitation there was nowhere near what it is here.

    • omawarisan says:

      True. A health inspection of most homes would turn up a grade that would send most of us screaming from a restaurant. Still, this guy just didn’t really make me feel good about wanting what he was selling

      • spencercourt says:

        BTW, while in Bangkok in ’95, I saw a woman street vendor selling my favorite fruit (jackfruit). She had the a number of the whole fruit (maybe the size of a pineapple) laying out on a blanket and when someone wanted some she just cut it with a knife and put a few pieces onto a napkin. She periodically wiped that knife clean on some sort of apron she was wearing. She cut with her bare hands and put that cut fruit onto the napkin with her bare hands.

        Now in ’95, I don’t believe there was any of that hand sanitizer in a bottle; if there was, we had none. I liked that fruit so much that I had to buy some, even though I knew what would likely happen. I did and it did….about five hours later I had diarrhea. No big deal…..

  21. Tasneem R says:

    I think the man forgot that he’s there to serve people . And serving the customers not only mean using two hands and preparing a dish , it also means serving something at it’s best form . Consumer satisfaction is something which is difficult to obtain for a restaurant but having such employees will make that impossible !!
    Anyway here’s a fun test for you check out !
    Snacks Personality –

  22. planetross says:

    So where did you end up eating lunch?

    “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger … or sick to a certain degree.”

  23. Brooke says:

    Ew. I would have asked him to wash his hands. Or turned around, drove another 7 miles and gone to another Subway. Because it’s the only dang place available in abundance on road trips. Hope you made it home safely, O!

  24. […] said, there are certain things that are uncool for them to do. Once, I walked past a guy smoking while he sat on a trash can in front of a sandwich shop. He came i… I realized in that moment that I was mistaken about being […]

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