Up until rather recently, I’ve been indifferent to the practice of shaking hands. Now I just plain don’t like it.
Last summer I did some rather innocent yard work out back but ended up with tendinitis in my elbow. Tennis elbow, it’s known as more generally. It really, really hurts to shake hands when you have tennis elbow. Every time I grip another hand, that elbow flares up in pain. Every bit of healing that has gone on so far feels to tear itself anew. Shaking hands with tennis elbow is not cool, and everyone with the condition should be gladly excused from having to shake.
Also, I work in healthcare. As a rule, you quickly find out that people’s hands are disgustingly covered in germs. After hand hygiene is stressed to you for so long, you start to notice how other people treat their hands. You watch grown, educated people sneeze and/or cough into their hands. You watch them do something ineffective like wipe their hands on a napkin or down their clothes. Then, within the next few moments, you see them shaking hands with somebody. Totally gross.
Now when people come up to me, sticking out their hand for me to shake it, all I can think is that I don’t know where that thing’s been. It’s rude, in our culture, not to accept an offered hand. It’s disgusting, from my point of view, to have to accept it.
Then we can also move into the realm of modern day horror stories. People deliberately infect others with viruses. Who hasn’t heard the story of people getting poked with needles in crowded bars/dance halls? How hard would it be for someone to hold a small, infected needle between their fingers and poke you with it by shaking your hand? I don’t look forward to the hand shake that I get one day which is followed by the comment “go check yourself for AIDS.”
What a strange, twisted world we’re in. Nobody should be expected to shake hands unless everyone can prove they are using proper hand hygiene. Even then, I get a free pass due to the tendinitis.