Alas, my mate Orville is not the sensitive kind. When he heard I had just lost my job, he was quick to tell me it was actually my fault.
‘My fault!” I said. “How can it be my fault? My editor called me into his office and told me to make my next column my last.”
“My point exactly,” Orville said. “Just because he called you into his office, doesn’t mean you had to go.”
‘And what would you have done?” I said, knowing that Orville has a great depth of work experience , having held down 112 jobs over 25 years, even though he hasn’t even tried working for the past 15 of those.
“I would have refused on account of being exposed to a range of infections,” he said
“Infections? What kind of infections?”
“Streptococcus, staphylococcus, E. coli and shigella bacteria, hepatitis A virus, the common cold virus, and various sexually transmitted organisms may have well be on his doorknob,” Orville said.
“How would they have got there?” I asked, incredulously.
“It’s well known that some people might not wash their hands after going to the toilet,” Orville said.
“He’s the editor, mate,” I said. “I’m sure they don’t hire editors who don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet. They screen them out.
“Anyway,” I said. “The door was already open.”
“Ah ha,” said Sherlock, er, I mean Orville. “Did you touch the desk?”
“The desk?” I said.
“Yes, the desk, ” Orville said. “A University of Arizona study in 2004 showed the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. “
The mind boggles how they came up with those figures, or how Orville even knew this stuff.
I am still coming to grips with the fact that for the past 15 months I have written a five-day-a-week column for my local newspaper and now I won’t have my cheerful face to look at above the weather notes each day.
I’m morose, damn it, and while I didn’t expect Orville to give me a shoulder to cry on I did rather hope I’d get a sympathetic ear and some sage advice like “the sun will still come up tomorrow, mate.”
Instead, he bombards me with figures about germs and tells me it’s my own stupid fault for agreeing to go past the editor’s doorknob.
“Why don’t you look on the bright side?” Orville said.
“What bright side?” I said.
“There must be something that’s going to be better in your life from now on because you’re not writing your column,” Orville said.
I thought about this then broke into a smile. “Yes, there is, by golly,” I said.
“No longer will I have to iron five business shirts each week.”
I hate ironing. I can’t stand it. After you wear a shirt you have to wash it. And after you wash it you have to iron it. It’s an endless boring, time-wasting cycle “I think I want to shake your hand, mate,” I told Orville. “Then I think I’ll make a special trip into the newspaper, find the editor and thank him by shaking both his hand and his doorknob.”
“Er, I wouldn’t go that far,” Orville said.
“Dropping the ironing is a good start though. There’s no telling what bacteria you’ll find there.”
“On the steam iron? Really Orville. Are there statistics about that too?”
“I don’t know,” Orville said. “But you can’t be too careful. The same Arizona study names telephones as the top home for office germs, followed by desks, water fountain handles, microwave door handles and computer keyboards.
“That’s why I’ve given up looking for another job,” Orville said. “It’s just becoming too dangerous.”
©October 8, 2006, John Martin. All Rights Reserved