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Monday, March 8, 2010

Ubiquitous Hand Sanitizer Makes Everyone Smell Like a Drunk

Posted By on Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 6:30 AM

If you invested in hand sanitizer prior to the H1N1 flu scare -- then you're really cleaning up. The stuff has become as ubiquitous as beepers were in the '90s and cell phones in the '00s. Dispensers grace lobbies of many San Francisco buildings and tubes emerge from purses and pockets on Muni at every stop. Has San Francisco ever been so sanitary? Does this counter these San Francisco values people like to go on about?

We've got a few problems with this development. Get sanitizer in your eyes and suddenly you're Gloucester from King Lear without the snappy dialogue. Second, and not insignificantly, there's scant scientific evidence that hand sanitizer will ward off disease. And, finally, thanks to the combination of alcohol and flowery scent additives being smeared on every palm, most anyone you bump into now exudes the sickly sweet odor of a day drinker.

If ever there were a smell of desperation, that's the one. The treacly odor of alcohol wafting through the pores is arresting: It induces feelings of sadness, concern, shame, and countless other emotions -- or memories. And now I'm catching it every time I ride the elevator.

If wondering if the 4-foot-9 granny who works on the fifth floor has a bottle of Winner's Cup Vodka in her purse was the price to pay for a verifiable defense against infectious disease -- well, that'd be something. But that's not the case. An alcohol-based placebo has become the hottest product in the realm, and we're constantly bombarded with olfactory recreations of skid row.

It's enough to make you want to drink during the day.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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