Running. With Howie.


8:24 am. 74F. 66% humidity. Late jump. Two capsules of Nyquil Flu & Cold down the gullet the night before. Slept like a baby. This morning, I’m woozy. After five consecutive days of 96F+ scorchers and too much in-doors time, I needed to get out.

I’m off. Head in a fog. How is it possible to have a head cold in the middle of a July heat wave?

Mind whirrs to Howie Mandel. Comic. Actor. Host of NBC’s “Deal or No Deal.” Howie’s fear of germs. His fist bumps instead of hand shakes. His book titled: “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me.”

I’m at Mile 1. I start sizing the GERM opportunity. A quick week in review:

  • Grand Central Station: 750,000 commuters a day. 1000’s of hands touching my exit door, all spilling out into Manhattan.
  • MetroNorth: 1000’s of touches on each stainless steel handrail we grip to hold steady while the train lurches to and fro.
  • Lunch. Food particles in the cracks on table. Water spots (one hopes) on spoon. Table top has a light sheen from being wiped with dish towel, after 7 other tables. Grab water glass, warm to touch, soap smell mixed with heavy chlorinated water. Rapid table turnover = > cash flow.
  • Bathroom. Hundreds of touches on the door handle a day. (Did your Mamma teach you to wash your hands after going to potty?)
  • Taxi cab doors and window handles. Office door handles. Elevator buttons. Conference room tables. Arm rests on chairs.

Do I grab the handle high, or grab it low, as most grab the middle? Or lean on door with shoulder? Or slide jacket sleeve over hand? Or, do I surreptitiously slow my pace to let another open the door in front of me?

And from these touches, a frictionless hand-off to my pen, my blackberry, my phone and my computer keyboard. Hand to nose to face to mouth. The germ baton is passed on; a leaf in the wind, a feather in the air, all silently and deadly landing on yet another unsuspecting prey.

But the moment that sticks is a split second decision to shake a hand prior to the kick-off of a meeting. A natural reflex. A custom. A greeting. A courtesy.

The hand I gripped was sopping wet with sweat. I force a smile. I release the hand. I turn to sit. I drop my hands under the table. The dry, left hand sponging up the sweat of the other, but not all. I grimace. And, ponder – should I leave the room to wash my hands? It would be an awkward break in momentum. It would be rude. I take the air-dry path and stay seated.  Three days later, mucous drips from my nose, I close my eyes waiting for the low throb of a migraine to pass, and I run.

Eric (son) walks down the stairs for breakfast this morning. “Did you hear the noise in my room last night? I was chasing two large black flies.

I shake my head. “Take a shower. And pick up your dirty clothes. Is it any wonder there are flies in your room? By the way, did you notice there aren’t any flies anywhere else in the house? Any correlation there pal?

Damn it. The germ pandemic has spread right under my roof.

I grab the Purell. Squeeze out a dab. Vigorously rub it into my hands. Let them air dry.


Clean for a moment.

Nap Time.

Credits: Image – How to Stop Sweating Hands

Related Posts: Running Series


  1. Cities are the worst for germs. Hand washing – lots of it – and sinus rinse. I swear by those two rituals. Good post. Had to laugh over the poor kid getting grief over two flies.


  2. Well, just don’t become Howie #2, okay??? “The dry, left hand sponging up the sweat of the other, but not all.” Lol! this may have been how it all started for him.


  3. OneHotMess says:

    My 8 year old son has hyperhodrosis. He sweats a lot, especially his hands. He hates to write and had a delay in handwriting as the feel of paper against his sweaty hands upsets him. He has trouble opening doors because of his sweaty hands. He washed his hands often just so he can play a video game. I fear it may become a compulsion. He is not sick. He just has a condition. Also, we are all getting sicker more often for longer periods of time because everyone has gone wild trying to kill every germ, so now we have super viruses. Feel better! Yes, I am a nurse.


    • I have a good friend with hyperhodrosis. It “is” a serious condition and I feel for him and your son. He has tried surgery and it has had directionally positive results. All the best to you son.


      • OneHotMess says:

        The little man is a bit too young for surgery yet, but we will be exploring other options on Monday. Thank you!


  4. I had to laugh at the handshake story and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that sometimes finds handshaking gross. I’m with Howie on that one! I hope you feel better soon.


  5. ophelia says:

    Maybe he was offering you some germ protection!


  6. There’s a fine line between concern and paranoia. 🙂


  7. I can’t think about it too much (the average person touches their face 3-5 times every waking minute), but I can wash my hands…….often!


  8. Great post! Could it be because of change of temperature in our surroundings? As we have A/C in our rooms and lounge but what about terrace? Road that we walk on? Father, my brother and I have the same complaint that’s why I wash my hands twice every now and then as I can’t bear having wet or greasy hands.


  9. That’s a great shot; it goes so well with the post.


  10. great post. feel better soon!


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