Thursday, February 1, 2018

Life Lessons With the 5-Second Rule

I dropped half of my toasted English muffin on the floor of the kitchen at work.

And then I ate it.

It was only there for five seconds.

It hadn’t yet been slathered with the inch-thick glob of peanut butter I usually apply, so surely nothing would stick to it. I dusted it off just in case, glanced over my shoulder to make sure no one was around, then slathered on the peanut butter and chowed down like it was nobody’s business.

And I didn’t die.

The muffin was barely on the ground five seconds before I snatched it up. For a brief second I wondered if the ‘open’ side of the muffin – the side one would typically spread something delicious – being face down on the floor would be worse than if it had been the ‘wrong’ side, or the outside of the muffin. But the ‘side’ of the food touching the ground truly wouldn’t matter.

The food that had been on the floor that hadn’t been washed since God knows when.

And I didn’t care.

And again, I didn’t die.

And as I ate my now likely plague-riddled muffin, I thought about ‘five seconds’ and all that can happen in that seemingly short amount of time - aside from food being near-infected by dirty kitchen infestations.

The five second rule – when it comes to food, that is – has long been argued, proven/disproven/proven, de-bunked, tested/re-tested, agreed/disagreed and gagged over. Scientists and doctors and myth-busters alike have long queried the probability of bacteria clinging to food in a short amount of time. Many refuse to eat ANYTHING that has fallen on the floor, yet many scream FIVE SECOND RULE at the top of their lungs when something delicious like a brownie hits the floor – as if screaming it will scare the germs away and ward-off disgusted looks from others in the room. But I contradict myself - I often think twice about WHAT the food item is before pleading the rule of 5 seconds before devouring. If it’s a glomb of oatmeal I’m not going to lick it off the floor. If it’s a piece of $20 steak? Well you can bet your barbeque sauce I’ll be snatching that tasty little morsel off the floor faster than the cat can come charging over!

My peanut buttery, plague-riddled muffin nearly gone, and my body still intact and no worse for wear, I further contemplated those infamous and highly controversial ‘five seconds’ so many equate to food and germs. A lot of GOOD things can happen in 5 seconds. Yes, a lot of BAD things can happen as well, but in the spirit of speaking and acting positive this new year where I’m sure science will, once again, take a turn and discover a new reason not to eat food off the floor, here’s a list of GOOD things we can do in five seconds – to make this world a better place – if only for a second:

1. Smile. Yep. Just smile. Try it. You won’t break a sweat. You have time – just do it.
2. Say ‘Good morning’ (and fake it if you must). Two words. That’s it.
3. Say ‘Good morning’ AND smile – that’s a double whammy there, but it’s worth it.
4. Say ‘I love you’ and mean it.
5. Hug someone. SQUEEZE them. Squish the snot right out of them.
6. Think a happy thought – but then if you’re like me where one thought leads to the next, then the next, then next, then the next, then the next, then the next, then the next, and then suddenly a whole hour has gone by and you have done nothing but stare out a window and think and then for the life of you you can’t figure how you got to thinking about why the worm you saw that morning on your walk was so big – what DID that guy eat for breakfast? – and you can’t remember what your original happy thought was and then……*deep breath*….you’re exhausted. Just a QUICK happy thought then. One that will only take five seconds.
7. Wipe the crumbs off the counter into the sink. You don’t even have to use a cloth. Just a quick swipe and they’re GONE! (*this is a hint to my family, but it’s a good reminder for all)
8. Stop and admire a tree. Yep – just a tree. Any tree. Walking somewhere with your head down and feeling in a funk? Look up for five seconds and admire that tree standing there waiting for you to admire. It’ll be thankful you paid attention to it for once, and doing so will give you pause out of your funk. Go on – try it. Give BACK to that tree.
9. See some litter? You know what to do….
10. And last but not least – blow your nose (but privately). It’s healthy and socially needed – nobody likes someone who always sniffs.

Yes, these have gone from the obvious to the absurd, but every little bit counts, I say. But in this world where we are neurotic germaphobes - gloves for this, sprays for that, antibacterial gels strong enough to near-peel the skin off our hands - eating a few germs off the floor will likely do us a world of good (build up our immunity), do the WORLD a load of good by not wasting food, and those POSITIVE five seconds will remind us there truly IS so much good we CAN do – for ourselves AND each other.

Remember to make the most of every second, and doing great things always happens in little increments – either eating something off the floor laden with germs before five seconds is over, or doing something little like smiling at someone to make their day – it’s what you DO with your time is what matters. Make every second count.

So drop that steak, brush it off, pop it in your mouth and smile at that tree. You won’t get sick and you’ll be happier for it - and full!

(Disclaimer - I'm no scientist and have no medical or scientific knowledge or background to support or argue the hygenic/non-hygenic merits of eating food off the floor. It's not for everyone, and to each their own and all that. So like I tell my kids - 'if something doesn't feel right, don't do it!')