Does the 5-second rule apply to city sidewalks?

Every Friday, I treat myself to coffee and a breakfast item. It’s my reward for reaching the end of another work week with my sanity intact.

Some weeks it’s more intact than others, but that’s beside the point.

Last week, I stopped at Starbucks for a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew and a Spinach, Feta & Egg White Wrap. Pretty much my summer go-to. Starbucks is convenient because I can order through the app on my phone, and by the time I reach the lobby of the Alex Johnson Hotel downtown 10 minutes later, it’s ready for me to pick up. I always pity those folks standing in line. Suckers.

Anyway. I grabbed my stuff, shoved money in the tip jar, and was walking back to my car when the SF&EW Wrap slipped through the bottom of the (apparently faulty-at-the-seams) bag and landed with a plop on the sidewalk. I calmly reached down, picked it up, brushed it off, and returned it to the bag. When I got to work, I ate it.

Is that gross…?

I’ve never been squeamish over a little dirt. It’s like the five-second rule was invented just for me! Truth be told, I’d go 10 or 15 seconds in a pinch. I’m a rebel that way.

Judge if you want, but I wasn’t about to throw away a perfectly good $4 breakfast wrap. Besides, I rarely get sick. Even my COVID, if it was that, came without symptoms. I have to think my willingness to eat food off…well, anything…has been a boon to my immune system.

Check back with me when I’m 100 and we’ll see if this theory holds water.


I came across a recent CNN article that declared nobody likes self-checkout stands. Hate to burst their bubble, but that’s baloney.

I don’t just like self-checkout. I love it.

I’m too impatient to waste precious time waiting in regular checkout lines. Unless my cart is especially full, I rarely bother. Why should I? For starters, I have an uncanny knack for choosing the wrong lane. Nine times out of 10, I’ll pick the line that moves the slowest — even if there are fewer people to begin with. I usually end up bagging my own groceries and loading them into my cart anyway. And then swiping my card to pay for them. I’m already doing most of the work, so I might as well eliminate the middleman and do the whole thing myself.

The best part about the whole DIY experience? No more polite-but-inane banter. I already know the weather is [fill-in-the-blank]; we don’t have to have a conversation about it. I also don’t have to pretend to care that your shift is about to end or express fake sympathy that you’re going to be stuck behind that register for the next eight hours. What’s that? You’re a fan of these new Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits, too? No WAY!

(Also, so what.)

And, why are you asking me whether that’s an Anaheim or Poblano pepper in my basket? I always assumed grocery cashiers received training on produce identification. Half the time, I don’t know the difference myself. If I’m self-scanning and unsure, I just pick one randomly. They weigh something like .038 of a pound and cost six or seven cents anyway, so it’s not going to be a costly mistake if I’m wrong.

Those produce codes are admittedly the trickiest thing about self-checkout. Well, guess what? My local Safeway just eliminated them. Now you can scan the UPC sticker and the computer is smart enough to know you’re buying a kumquat as opposed to a banana. There’s really no excuse for not scanning your own stuff anymore.


Remember how our A/C was on the fritz for eight long, hot days? Naturally, as soon as it was fixed, the weather decided to turn rainy and cool.

Sunday was so stormy, we ended up with almost 3″ of rain. Crazy.

We actually left the A/C off quite a bit this week. Further proof that Mother Nature has a cruel and twisted sense of humor.

Do you follow the five-second rule? Are there exceptions for sidewalks and streets? Do YOU think I’ll live to 100? How do you feel about self-checkout?

38 thoughts on “Does the 5-second rule apply to city sidewalks?

  1. Heck no, I don’t follow that rule. I’m like you, I push it – sometimes up to 15 or 30 seconds. I also don’t care about the “use by” dates on food. I look at it, sniff it and take a little taste. If it passes those tests, it’s good to go. BTW, I’m one of those that don’t like the self-checkouts. You see, I’m 75 now. I remember the good old days when checkers used to take the food OUT of your basket, ring it up and bag it for you. They even had box boys take it to your car and load it in the trunk! Now, those were the days….. Plus, think how many jobs would be lost if everyone did self-checkout.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, there’s a familiar face!

      I agree with you re: use-by dates. True story: I once used salad dressing seven years after it had technically expired. It was a Seven Seas Creamy Italian that had been long discontinued, so I stocked up and made it last for years. People turn their noses up at that, but it was still perfectly fine when I opened it. I savored every salad for the next few months!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The best thing about self checkout is I don’t have to worry about an idiot putting cleaning products in the same bag as my bread or a watermelon on top of eggs ??! Both have been done. Now stores even have conveyor self checkout if you have a crap load…I actually like those as well. Before you know self check out will be everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew I didn’t like watermelon for a reason!

      And I’d be okay with universal self-check out. Imagine if we could go to an automobile dealership and buy a new car that way. Cutting out the pesky sales guy trying to meet quota? Sign me up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would glorious. Although there would probably still a human employed for the sole same of test driving vehicles.

        Like

  3. Five seconds, ten seconds… as long as it doesn’t fall in dog poo? I’m good.
    I don’t mind self checkouts if I have small order, but produce is a definite buzz kill.
    A/c fixed, cool weather. As soon as it gets cold … your furnace will probably break. Life is like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I absolutely roll with the five second rule. But I wouldn’t go past that. For some reason I’ve convinced myself five seconds is fine, but not six. That would go for inside or outside. If I’m betting I don’t ever bet anyone will see 100 because I think it’s so rare and there has to be a lot of luck involved. I love self-checkout. It sometimes gets a little cramped when you have a lot of groceries, but self-checkout > cashier for me. Of course the weather turned cool once the A/C was fixed. Of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like six seconds is your psychological cutoff. Hey, we all have our breaking points!

      As far as living to 100, I figure if I say it often enough, I’ll make it happen. I’m all about manifesting these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If we check back when you’re 100, it will be safe to say your theory held water.

    I once ate a piece of pizza that fell on the ground outside, face down. You think that’s hardcore, I saw a friend pick up and brush off a popsicle. Stuff STICKS to popsicles.

    I too love self check out. Who was CNN asking? #fakenews I was amazed that the self check out IDed my grapes, both the red and the green, without me doing anything other than click “accept weight.” Also, why do they ask us that? Are we really going to dispute the weight? Is it really going to screw up so badly as to suggest my grapes weigh 10 pounds instead of 2? I doubt it.

    Murphy’s law on the A/C and weather. Figures. Great street pic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OK, I might draw the line at the popsicle. And even the pizza (though you’ve earned my respect with that badass move).

      Tara’s exact quote: “Because Murphy is a dickhead.”

      I really can’t argue with that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Although the 5-second rule applies in our home, I’m happy that I’ve never had to test it out “on the road.” I’ll check back when you are 100 (which will make me about 100 + ?). I’m not a fan of self check-out because of the potential loss of jobs (yes, I’m a tree-hugging commie).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m all about eating something that’s taken a fall, as long as it’s not fallen into something gross ). funny, we probably each have our line we won’t cross in this arena

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Spending $4 on a wrap when I would typically make something at home means eating it from the ground if it takes a dive. Did anyone notice and give you an odd look when you popped it back in the bag? Love self-check. I like my stuff packed in a specific way and my bags to be an even weight. Sometimes produce is a pain if you have to look it up, but I’ve become pretty expert at that even. The one store I won’t use self-check at is Fred Meyer (Kroger for some). There’s always an issue with their machines.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So, the wrap fell out of the bag AND the wrapper? Or was it not wrapped?

    I’m one of those who hate self checkout. Something invariably goes wrong for me and then I have to wait for an employee anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wasn’t wrapped, just bagged. I got another one today, and guess what? It was double bagged. First time they’ve ever done that. Obviously, they had a faulty batch.

      Like

  10. It depends on how dirty the sidewalk is, how sticky the item dropped is, and how hungry I am.

    I love self-check, too. I rarely buy alcohol and I tend to have a small basket. The only time I don’t love it is when the old white men are ahead of me. They almost never use it and they don’t know how and it takes forever and they complain the whole time. Maddening.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love self-check, especially in a tourist town, mid summer. Except for those people who DO have a full cart and take 30 minutes to scan everything through when I am in a hurry. There should be a 15 items or less rule.

    And after been a cashier at a supermarket…42 cans of the same kind of car food DO NOT count as 1 item, sorry to say.

    And 5 second rule so long as it doesn’t fall into anything nasty. Hell, last week my best friend found a “Jolly” bean that had been rolling around in the bottom of her purse with dog bones-I downed that sucker and slept for over 2 hours. I have zero shame, just sayin’.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m with you all the way here! I was at Disneyland, early in the morning and bought the best popcorn in the world. We were sitting on a curb eating it when a kernel dropped down and I picked it up and ate it. Seriously, it seemed cleaner than my floors at home and it saved me from having to eat some of my 3-year-old daughter’s share. My sister-in-law thought that was over the top though… 🙂

    And self-check – it’s great. Maybe it takes the same amount of time but I’m busy the whole time and that makes me happy!

    Enjoy your EW&SJ tomorrow morning – and I hope your sanity is more or less intact now that it’s cooler!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love self-check! Aside from costco, I haven’t been through a checkout lane in years. Self-check is so much faster. I don’t know who they were surveying, but it must have been the subset of the population who can’t locate a barcode to save their lives 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The 5 second rule (and longer) applies to my own floors but to the sidewalk, hmmm. I would have to think about that and evaluate that particular sidewalk. 🙂 I very much dislike self-check but have been doing pick up for years which is super easy and convenient. My shoppers know me well and do their best for me, sometimes above and beyond the call of their job.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t think I could eat anything off of any floor, unless I was homeless and starving to death. In the case of the Starbucks sandwich, I’m pretty sure if you went back in and showed them the faulty bag they would graciously make you a new one, and that is what I would’ve done.

    I like the self-checkouts if I only have a few items, but when I do my weekly grocery shopping I prefer to toss it on the conveyor belt and let the checker do the scanning while I’m tossing the bags back into the cart. It would take me way too long to self-checkout a week’s worth of groceries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, if I wasn’t in a rush to get to work – and the line at Starbucks wasn’t halfway to the door – I might have done that. Because you’re right: I’m 100% sure they’d have replaced my wrap, no questions asked!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m confused. Was the wrap wrapped in some sort of paper? If it was, you could have left it on the ground for most of the day and still eaten it. If it wasn’t, it depends on the state of the ground. If you deemed it clean enough to eat off of, then no problem. Eat away!
    I LOVE self checkout! Who are these people who don’t like it? I’m guessing nearly all of us who call ourselves introverts think the self checkout lane was one of the best inventions ever. We have one cashier at our local grocery store who is very nice but always comments on half the things on the conveyor belt. Kind of annoying. Also, I was a cashier in high school and yes, we did have to memorize not only the names of all the things in the produce department, but their specific codes as well. Are you telling me they don’t have to memorize that stuff anymore? What is this world coming to?!?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No wrapper. It was lying on the ground naked. Didn’t faze me in the least.

      I don’t think grocery store cashiers memorize anything anymore. They’re either always looking up the codes or asking me what something is (and THEN looking up the codes).

      Liked by 1 person

  17. The five-second rule is garbage. You had to eat that wrap. HAD TO.

    I rarely do the self-checkout unless I have one or two items. I always feel stressed about moving fast if I have more things and people are waiting. I’d instead make the cashier feel the stress. 😳 A few weeks ago one of the cashiers asked me what fruit I was buying so she could ring it up. Plums. I had plums. So exotic…

    Liked by 1 person

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