Opinion

Beware of falling fronds

A few significant phenomena at Suntan U. merit examination.

Not seldom have I observed large fronds hanging precariously off tall palm trees lining the promenade near the Otto Richter library. Once I watched in awe as one of these massive objects fell to the ground near where I stood, missing my head by a few yards and meeting the ground with a prodigious thud. Brushing aside the near calamity, I began to wonder about the potential quandaries of an actual hit.

Who should be blamed if a tree drops one of its massive components on a hapless passerby? Is the victim at fault for being inattentive to a dead palm leaf dangling ominously in plain view of birds? My hope is that these lifeless fronds are preemptively clipped before they come crashing down like cosmic debris. Failing that, there are few actions more prudent than keeping a watchful eye toward the sky.

Far from the potential perils of payload-dropping palms, invisible travelers stealthily exploit the commonest acts of friendship. Handshakes and the hipper varieties of interpersonal hand-slapping facilitate the transmission of a whole slew of unfriendly pathogens. Experience reliably informs me that an uncomfortably high percentage of people breach the most fundamental social contract by neglecting to wash their hands after coming out of the water closet.

Votaries of health and cleanliness cannot hope to change the puke-inducing habits of others nor can we institute, say, salutes to supplant deeply ingrained hand-touching as a viable act of ordinary social interaction. What is the solution?

Automatic hand dryers!

These machines are conspicuously absent in the Richter library. If someone fails to wash his hands thoroughly, an eclectic germ-rich mix of fingernail lint and residual excreta can be unwittingly deposited on paper towel-dispensing levers and doors. Your hand-washing efforts may be in vain if you subsequently touch a tainted lever or door.

Hand dryers allow you to bypass potentially contaminated levers. There are two keys to safely exiting the bathroom. One is starting the hand dryer with your elbow (unless you employ your elbow for eating); the other is gently kicking open the door on your way out. In both cases you preserve the cleanliness of your hands.

As you venture out into the world, be forever wary of flying fronds. Look people in the eye with a smile, bring your hand close to your temple, and say you love them.

Raj Singh is a junior majoring in philosophy

February 15, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

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