Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hand Dryers: The Unknown Danger in the Bathroom

All humans have several things in common. We all have human DNA, live on Earth (besides one or two astronauts), and are not monkeys. Also, we all go to the bathroom. Going to the bathroom is important because it is how we dispose of waste. In fact, if you did not go to the bathroom you would probably die.

One negative of going to the bathroom: Germs. Germs are everywhere and they have been the cause of lots of problems over the years, like the Black Death. Past generations did not know about germs though, so they cannot be blamed.

Pictured: Spreader of germs!
Now that we do know about germs (who are invisible to the naked eye), to combat them we have come up with things like “soap” and “showers”. After we go to the bathroom we (sometimes) wash our hands with soap and then dry them. Bathrooms used to be stocked with paper towels, but now they are being replaced by hand dryers. Hand dryers are more cost efficient and environmentally friendly, but there is one problem with hand dryers… they actually INCREASE THE NUMBER OF BACTERIA ON YOUR HANDS!

So how do they do it? The warm atmosphere inside the hand dryer provides the perfect environment for bacteria. When air then blows out of the dryer, bacteria (both from your hands and from inside the dryer itself) is being spread all throughout the room.

A study from the University of Westminster (that’s in London), found that washing and then drying hands with a warm hand dryer increased bacteria by an average of 194% on fingers and 254% on palms. In contrast, drying hands with a paper towel decreased bacteria by about 75%. Other studies have found similar results.

As humans, we are being placed in a very difficult situation because of hand dryers. We feel obligated to wash our hands after going to the bathroom, but when we use hand dryers, we are actually adding to the power of germs. I am not writing this to scare you, but to alert you to a problem that is very, very real. What you want to do with this new information is up to you. You could choose to just not wash your hands (disgusting), use a hand dryer (disgusting), or carry around a roll of paper towels at all times (inconvenient). You could also write a letter to your local congressman/woman about the hand dryer problem. Regardless, be careful, dear reader, because I think it's safe to say that we are at Threat Level Red.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dear New Jersey Transit

Dear NJ Transit Customer Service Team,

A commuter waits for his train to arrive early in the morning—he watches the minutes pass by on his cell phone. Looks like he won’t get that big promotion after all—not after being late for today’s important meeting.

Inside Penn Station: a college student. She’s supposed to head home for her grandmother’s 100th birthday party. Instead, she takes a bite of her second Auntie Anne’s pretzel. Sorry, grandma, I hope you make it to 101.

And on a train: a baby. The moving of the train rocks this particular baby to sleep. But the train isn’t moving so the baby cries. NJ Transit makes babies cry.

Ben Franklin once said that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. But Ben Franklin lived in Pennsylvania. If he had lived in New Jersey, he would’ve said, there are only three things certain in life: death, taxes, and that New Jersey Transit is a stinky turd.

We are not halfway through August, and already this month, travelers have been subjected to constant cancellations, massive delays, and trips on the PATH to Newark inside packed train cars with crowding similar to what our ancestors faced when they traveled through Ellis Island. You would think that after 227 years of existence the Garden State would be able to come up with an efficient commuter rail system. But, instead of getting people where they need to be on time, NJ Transit has adopted the persona of the always late and panicked White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

Pictured: Me after another delay.
Note how stressed and drained I look.
Adding insult to injury, NJ Transit is far from cheap. I pay $361 for a monthly pass from Penn Station to Jersey Avenue. When I fork over my hard earned cash, I expect a certain level of service, and NJ Transit has not delivered. Planes offer full or partial refunds when they don’t meet certain standards; why should trains be different?

I formally request a full refund for my August monthly pass. I also suggest a major overhaul of NJ Transit and Penn Station. Because deep down, I still love you, NJ Transit. But I am tired of your cancellations and of playing second fiddle to those elitists over at Grand Central.

Thank you for your time.


Commuter Jeffrey Sperber