Harry fodder for thought

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Remember Harold: The slot-machine cranking guy who transformed an isolator into a machine that can receive, inspect and electronically transmit mail without anyone ever having to touch it?

He called me back the Tuesday after Thanksgiving not only to brag about the four-day cruise he just took around the Caribbean, but also to tell me that he was wrong about the Web site address for his new business.

It's www.postguardsystems.com. “I always get that wrong,” he says innocently in that raspy and now familiar voice.

“So, who buys these contraptions?” I ask, pointlessly.

“I can't tell you that,” Harold replies, poignantly. “These companies do not want to be even remotely associated with an anthrax attack.”

He did say that several universities, a couple of Fortune 500 companies and some national organizations are ready to shell out the bucks to buy one of the two contraptions Post Guard Systems offers.

“The driver is they have secretaries who won't open the mail anymore,” Harold adds with a laugh.

While the culprit or perpetrators have failed to launch an anthrax epidemic, they have triumphed in unleashing an outbreak of fear that has sparked such reactions as bleaching sorting machines to vacating offices to stockpiling vaccines.

“You just can't react to it quick enough,” Harold says.

My baloney filter kicked in, and I suggested that perhaps that some in the contamination control industry are merely looking to cash in on the fear.

It may very well be a matter of business for some, but for most it is a responsibility to offer protection if one has the means.

Harold had a point.

Even before this column was penned, Les C. Vinney, chief executive of Steris had already testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, pledging its time and expertise to combat the war within a war.

Of course, Harold had a much simpler way of looking at it: “We just did what we thought was the right thing to do.”

Mark A. DeSorbo
Associate Editor


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