As human beings, we are all creatures of habit. Whether it be mundane life activities like bathing or brushing our teeth or relationship patterns like always falling for a guy who can quote Caddyshack, life is often a mobius strip of similar events and people. However, more often than not, some of these patterns can turn into habits that can prove to be detrimental to one’s life or health. Smoking is often cited as the number one habit people are trying to take control over. Yet, there are other human routines that are just as harmful.
Most people have done it at some point. Someone texts you a question while you’re on the road (possibly and probably a trivial query), and rather than pull over to call or text them back, you attempt the challenge of “Texting While Driving.” It’s almost like a Physical Challenge from Marc Summers on Double Dare. It’s even worse than being on the cell phone while driving because at least people’s eyes are still on the road with the phone (for the most part); with texting, the road has to compete with the flashy phone text screen.
Many states are taking legislative action when it comes to being caught texting while driving. Most recently, Pennsylvania Senator Tommy Tomlinson sponsored a bill where motorists could be fined up to $100 for being caught texting behind the wheel. Studies have shown that 20% of drivers text while driving. This number increases up to 66% for drivers between the ages of 18 and 24. The legislative action is a direct result of more and more accidents being caused by texting. Some day soon texting could be just as major an offense as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The touch screen of your iPhone can be just as inhibiting as a touch of Jack in your glass of Coke.
San Francisco politician Harvey Milk gained attention for working on a bill, that according to a poll, represented one of the number one problems in San Francisco: picking up dog feces. Aside from fighting for gay rights, the “pooper scooper law” become one of his most crowd-pleasing stances.
The “pooper scooper law” was popular because it was and is still an issue that’s a huge problem in cities and towns all over the country. First, there’s the aesthetic aspect. No one wants to be walking down the street and see fecal matter on the ground. Two, there’s the courtesy aspect. If a dog leaves a deposit in front of someone else’s house, it just isn’t very nice to leave it be for the neighbor to pick up. Three, dog doo actually pollutes the environment. Gnarly bacteria found in water and streams can actually be traced back to a dog conducting his business. So when you leave Fido’s business on the ground, it could end up biting you back eventually (eeww!). Studies have shown that nearly 40% of Americans don’t pick up after their dog. Thus, crap is abundantly amongst us.
It’s Not Just for Employees
As anyone who’s ever held a job that involves cleaning toilets will tell you, it’s astounding the amount of people who do not flush. More astounding, is the thought of people who don’t wash their hands after they use the restroom. In a 2005 New York Times article, Nicholas Bakalar found that most people say they wash their hands after using the restroom, even if some of them were lying. 91% of the people polled claimed that they washed up after using the restroom, yet only 82% of the people observed actually did so. All it takes is one round of “Happy Birthday” to scrub the germs off (10 to 15 seconds), and it can keep everyone healthier and happier. Parents have told their children for years that washing your hands is important. Yet with the alarming statistics, apparently the fear of disease and germs wasn’t enough to keep people hygienic into adulthood.
Here’s something that might help: In the studies, women wash their hands more than men. For many women, there’s nothing that’s more of a turn-off than a guy who doesn’t wash his hands (perhaps, a guy who doesn’t flush). If a woman is sitting near the men’s restroom at a restaurant and a date walks in and out quietly without so much as the sound of a splash of water, he’s not going to get a second date.
These habits might seem little and petty, but they actually pollute our lives on a bigger scale. Just like with smoking, people think that they are only harming themselves, when really secondhand smoke can be just as fatal. The good news is that these three habits can be easier to kick than smoking. All you need is restraint from answering that inbox message (you probably didn’t even want to talk to them anyway), a couple of plastic grocery bags, and some soap.