Eating at a local eatery with friends recently, I ordered my usual iced tea with lemon. As an observant writer and ex-waiter, my eyes enjoy darting about, reminiscing and relating to the servers scampering table to table like ants on fire. Drifting away from the dangling conversation I watched the waiter ring up everyone’s beverage order and assemble our beverages. (Fill a tea glass with ice, pour in tea and add lemon.) Then the server approached our table, served each iced tea glasses with their fingers grasping the drinking rim and placed it at our settings. “Here’s your iced tea sir,” the server sang with syrupy perkiness.
“No, that’s YOUR iced tea,” I returned, politely informing the clueless server they’d handled my tea with their fingers grasping the drinking rim and I wanted a fresh glass please. Why? Because I know what succulent microbial critters lurk under everyone’s nails and grimy fingerprints. I mean think about it. Our hands and scalp host trillions of germs like Staphylococcus, Corynebacteria, Streptococcus, E coli, Myobacteria and Haemophilus. These bacteria are also found in the nose, eyes, mouth, gut and vagina, though the rate of incidence might vary. Different Streptococcus strains cause infections affect the throat, lungs, dental caries, and can seriously damage your heart and kidney.
In 2008, a Colorado’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology found 150 types of bacteria on human hands. Not all bacteria are bad. Some probiotic bacteria actually protect us from illness. Good probiotic bacteria prevent the growth of the harmful bacteria.
Then, my mind raced onward, curious if the server washed the lemons before cutting them up for tea or cocktails? Why? The Journal of Environmental Health Study on lemon wedges found that 70 percent contained potentially harmful microorganisms.
“OMG, did I just see our server run fingers through their hair? If they do that in front of the customers, did they wash their hands after using the isolated bathroom? You should wonder if the food you eat is clean; washed of field dirt, animal droppings, and cancerous agribusiness chemicals.
Ever wonder whether your table top was washed and sanitized from the last customer? I’ve sat down at tables that were sticky and tacky from old food and snark left by previous patrons. The Serve Safe program requires Indiana restaurant management to keep a sanitation bucket and clean towels available for all servers and bus person to bleach down each table between diners.
When I waited tables as a reckless youth, I merely brushed off and rarely sanitize the tabletops and usually water was kept in the sanitation bucket rather than antimicrobial bleach water. If the table is dirty, politely ask management to have it sanitized for your protection. So, if someone suggests you, “go suck a lemon”, clean it first, okay? Also watch their facial expression when you ask management if the prep-cooks wash the fruits and veggies.