[26th March 2003]
I've noticed that in the toilets (or 'restrooms' in US English) of most restaurants in the States, there's a notice by the washbasins informing employees that they MUST wash their hands before they return to work. I find this both annoyingly patronising towards the employees and slightly unnerving for the customers. Starbucks reached a nadir though: their notice was accompanied by instructions for washing hands with no fewer than 6 steps -- accompanied by detailed diagrams. To give you a flavour of this document, step 1 was "turn on taps". Now I don't know the Starbucks employees personally, but they seemed like pretty intelligent, well turned-out people who needed no advice on basic personal hygiene. They can manage to remember a complicated coffee order and make a low-fat, no-whip mocha-frappuccino, so I think they can handle simple hand-washing without special instructions. I'm sure that they have the notices there because of some State or Federal law, but it's really treating people like children.