We as a society have become an untrustworthy bunch. We have locks on everything, our cars, our bikes, our houses, and even our cell phones. We get nervous if a stranger looks at us. Or, perhaps my favorite, when you’re driving in a residential neighborhood, and the car behind you makes more than one of the turns that you just made. All of a sudden, it’s like the Italian Job and you’re thinking of ways to ditch this psycho.

Looks like all those Jason Statham movies weren't for nothing.

Looks like all those Jason Statham movies weren’t for nothing.

We’re also paranoid about what we eat. Lookout for gluten. Lookout for artificial sugar. Lookout for trans-fats. Whatever, I get it, you care about what goes into your body. I care too, about whether it tastes like it’s making sex to my mouth. Furthermore, you care about where it comes from. You don’t want a cow that suffered any indecencies or discomfort in life, right up until it’s hacked to pieces. That’s great. But for some reason, as a neurotic, paranoid, untrusting civilization, we’ve somehow managed to let the honor system survive in a place most unexpected:


We’ve all seen this sign when out dining and nature calls. And while honor has gone the way of the dodo, more or less, it survives in the shittiest place – the bathroom. Did you ever think about this? All that stands between you and the unsanitary preparation of your food is a miniscule sign. That’s it. That’s all you get. A tiny plaque that declares, “Employees MUST wash hands.”

We all seem to think this sign is effective. That because the sign says they MUST, that they undoubtedly do. But do you always stop properly at a stop sign, or only take one free sample?

However, Free Samples does in fact suggest plurality...

However, Free Samples does in fact suggest plurality…

Let that sink in. While you do, remember that this paranoia is only exacerbated by the fact that you almost never see an employee using the restroom, so you can’t even protect yourself. We’re helpless.

This sign is based on the basic principle that we are a thoughtful and decent race of beings with faith in each other – and as my intro pointed out, we absolutely do not believe for a second. So we leave the compliance of cleansing bathroom bacteria to a plastic disclaimer. I guess they could put a camera in there to enforce the policy, but I’m pretty sure that would cause more problems than it solves.

Have I made you self-conscious about your local dining establishment yet? Think about this, do you know somebody that puts a security alarm sticker in their front window even though they don’t have the security system? Sure you do. These people are just covering their bases.

When was the last time someone referred to their house as premises?

When was the last time someone referred to their house as premises?

And the hand washing sign is no different than that sticker. Or the stop sign. Or free samples, or the “don’t download music illegally” sign.

Yet, the honor system continues to live in the most unlikely and unfathomable place. The bathroom. Next time you’re scrubbing the germs away, make sure you look for the sign, because it’s your only protection from what lurks beyond the walls of sanitization. If you don’t see it?

Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit