One of life’s true pleasures: A cool ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day.
Show Date: July 15, 2010.
I especially love the soft serve variety sold by our local ice cream parlor. It was around 6:00 pm when I ordered a medium chocolate and vanilla swirl cone.
The young woman behind the counter handed me the cone. I turned to find a table but came full stop. The empty tables were coated with gobs of melted ice cream, toppings and who knows what.
I asked her to wash off a table top so that I could take a seat. She didn’t budge, and the manager – a pleasant person – wasn’t there. I asked again, and then a third, fourth and fifth time. Meanwhile, my soft ice cream cone was melting. Yes, I could have walked back into the sweltering 95 degree heat – perhaps ingested the cone in my car – but that wasn’t my idea of fun.
I paid $3.50 cone (+ tax) to enjoy my cone while sitting at an air-conditioned table taking in the view.
She finally approached a table, with a dirty rag in hand, plus a bottle of Windex.
Several moms sat at adjacent tables with their young children in tow. “Look at the way they clean the tables,” I said in a slightly raised voice but to no one in particular. Three moms looked up and shrugged.
The worker then proceeded to clean the primary counter-top – where women typically put down their purses to pay – with the same filthy rag.
Why not use clean paper towels or micro-cloths that can be repeatedly disinfected and washed? Why doesn’t management care? Why doesn’t the public care?
Would you ever THINK of cleaning your kitchen table with the rag you use to wipe the toilet or floor? What’s the difference? How do we know where those rags have been?
And how about the way that sandwich shop workers man-handle your food? I planned to enjoy a pita sandwich at local shop. The “cook” threw my pita on the grill with his left hand and then banged on it with his right fist to make it cook faster.
“You put your hands all over my food,” I said.
“So what,” he replied. “I wash my hands.”
“You’re required by law to wear plastic gloves,” I replied.
He shrugged. Who cares?! Not the restaurant.
Burger King, by contrast, sets a high standard. Food workers start their day with a 12-step hand-washing program – and are required to rewash their hands every hour. Hourly hand washing is digitally tracked. If a worker leaves the area or picks up something off the floor, he/she must rewash.
Tables are cleaned with a blue towel that floats in a concentrated disinfectant solution. The solution is changed every four hours, and the towel is thrown out at the end of the day. The only negative: the same towel is used to wipe off both chairs and tables.
Americans spend billions annually on home cleaning products, while paying for the privilege to eat on germ-infested tables in ice cream parlors, fast food joints and yes, even so-called fine restaurants.
A popular French outdoor cafe was besieged by pigeons at the height of the bird flu epidemic. Why? Because the manager refused to put up a sign asking his customers to stop feeding the birds.
The birds flitted from one table to another, resting on those that were empty. And how did the workers clean those tables? You guessed it: With the same rags used on inside dining tables, because that’s what management told them to do.
And we wonder how sickness spreads.