Saturday, February 05, 2011

There's nothing "hep" about hepatitis in New Orleans.

I was watching an instructional video for new personnel at the Burger King on St. Claude Avenue (don't ask why).  I had to pinch myself and wonder if beatniks are all of a sudden the employees of choice for this venerable franchise.

A scraggly-bearded narrator wearing a beret appeared on the television screen via well worn VHS tape.  "Look," he said, "Hepatitis is a drag, man, and spreading it isn't cool.  You dig?  Wash your hands when you're done in the can, baby.  Nobody else gets sick and everything is fine, just fine."  He smiled and spread his hands to the camera as the scene faded out.

I was tempted to snap my fingers when this presentation was over which, unfortunately, didn't have a bongo soundtrack.  The girl seated next to me looked puzzled.   The chap next to her, who must have been seventeen if he wasn't sixteen, turned to the old guy in the audience, me, and asked, "What was that about?" as he stifled his laughter, pretending to cough in front of the manager who was changing the tape for the next lesson.

I explained that some strains of viral hepatitis don't display obvious symptoms and it is in the best interest of public health that food servers practice established, proper hand hygiene protocols to reduce the risk of cross contamination by reducing transmission vectors and limiting exposure to possible pathogens through the use of frequent, vigorous scrubbing with soap and water augmented by bactericides and clean technique whenever a restaurant professional may come in contact with pathogens before handling food, utensils, or any other item commonly used by customers who may have at-risk immune systems in a busy, high-traffic, fast food setting.

The girl said, "Why didn't he just say that in the movie?  That was so lame."  She rolled her eyes.

I agreed and joined her in looking up at the ceiling tiles in the break room cum school room.  It was a long day for all of us.

Who says they don't teach valuable things in the New Orleans school system?  Who says you have to talk down to New Orleans graduates?

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