A reader writes: “I am a server at a rather nice restaurant and usually have to bus my tables, as well as bring the food. I admit to being a ‘germaphobe.’ How can I protect myself from other people’s germs?”

So long as you do not let your phobias keep you from living a full, productive life, I encourage you to protect yourself when practical. We are exposed to many different bacteria and viruses every day in many ways. Most of us have immune systems that protect us in many cases. Remember that there are friendly/benign bacteria that help us digest food and challenges our immune system to fight off what we call pathogens (bugs that can make us sick or even kill us).

You can also use your concerns about germs to protect patrons in the restaurant where you work. First, review the chemicals and tools provided for you to clean the table areas. If you are not provided gloves, then you should wash your hands often. Your chemicals should be some sort of disinfectant/sanitizer that can kill germs (both good and bad) left on the surfaces you are cleaning. Learn about “dwell time.” Another area to consider are what are called “touch points”. This is any surface that was touched by either yourself or the customer. On the typical table, there will the flat surface of the table itself. In some restaurants, this will be covered by a cloth or perhaps place mats. A flat, open table is relatively easy to clean if you use the sanitizer/disinfectant correctly and then wipe the surface with a clean cloth or disposable product. Now let’s look at what else is being touched on the table. How about the condiments such as salt, pepper, catchup, mustard, vinegar, BBQ sauce, etc? How about the menu? If it is laminated, could you clean it? Other touch points to consider are the chair arms which most of us pull back in order to seat ourselves. When was the last time most of these touch points were cleaned?

Clean as if your life (and the lives of others0 depended on it, because it does.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.