Thursday, March 19, 2009

Please spare the cheese when you have to sneeze

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Editorial Page

It's cold and flu season, but that's no reason for people to forget their manners, is it? An incident during a recent trip to the grocery store was clear evidence of what can happen when we're not thinking of others when we're sick.

No matter what your household was like growing up, you were probably told to cover your mouth when you coughed or sneezed. Indeed, it's a rite of passage in every household. We follow little kids around and watch them like a hawk when they're sick to ensure they learn the social graces of covering their mouths.

In recent years, people have been taught to sneeze into the inside of their elbow in order to keep their hands clean. Makes sense to me. No use coughing or sneezing into your hand only to go around touching things, shaking hands and passing along germs, right? Unless you have some sort of weird profession I've never heard of, you probably don't do much with the inside of your elbow.

There should be public service commercials during cold and flu season to teach people to use common sense. I don't know if it would have prevented what I saw at the grocery store the other day, but maybe it would help at least increase the number of people who know how to properly sneeze in public. I know that's a very strange thing to consider, but you'll probably agree with me after this.

So I was at the grocery store the other night after work. I passed by the dairy case --- you know, where they keep all the cheese, butter, yogurt, eggs, etc.

As I was moseying down the aisle checking out the cheese, these two men walk toward me. They were both quite burly and reminded me of construction workers spending the week in town before heading home on the weekends. They were buying some groceries to munch on --- either in their apartment or motel room where they stay during the week . . . at least this is what I assumed.

One of the men, the larger of the two, decided he needed to sneeze. Now, this was a big guy. He looked like he could shoot out a mean sneeze. As he walked by the dairy case, he turns to look into it and let go of a huge sneeze that could have killed a child, had one been standing in front of him. Let's just say that the yogurt, butter, etc., got a nice shower.

There was zero effort to cover his mouth. It was the grossest thing I've ever seen. Then he and his friend started laughing. "Man, that was a pretty good sneeze!" the other said to him. And they continued to laugh like it was a big joke. Yeah, sneezing on other people's food is just hilarious.

Yeah, great sneeze, I thought. Too bad the store would have to destroy half the food in the dairy case because you were too ignorant to turn away. I was really flabbergasted. Other than giving him a disgusted look, what could I do? Would store management take me seriously if I told them some ogre just spewed half his lungs over their butter display? Should I call 911 to report someone leaving parts of their brain on the container of cottage cheese I had my eye on?

I don't gross out easily. I can watch open-heart surgery while eating lunch, after all. But there are limits. Sneezing on my food is one of them.

I mean, seriously, what was this guy thinking? And what was remotely funny about this? Obviously, he and his friend will never be nominated for a Nobel Prize, but still, it's just common sense.

I'm just as guilty as anyone else for showing up to work sick. It drives me nuts when other people do it, but I have to admit I've shown up to work practically hooked up to life support machines at times. Sometimes, there's just too much going on to take an unscheduled day off. Although hypocritical, I know I should stay home from work when I'm sick with a cold or the flu, but I usually come in anyway and end up giving it to my colleagues.

So far, I've managed to avoid getting a major cold this winter. Other than a minor case of the sniffles several weeks ago, I've remained healthy. I constantly wash my hands with sanitizer. Actually, I'm surprised my skin hasn't disintegrated yet!

One thing I haven't had in years is the flu. Since I started getting an annual flu shot, I've been flu-free! It's amazing to me how many people say they don't believe in it and then whine and complain when they end up spending a week or two in bed sick as a dog. Well, duh! I realize the flu shot doesn't cover all strains of the virus, but still . . . better safe than sorry, right? The last time I had the flu was in 1993.

I do take other preventative measures. I take vitamins and supplements. Some may not believe in them, claiming that all they do is give you "expensive urine". I, however, have always believed in them and feel they've made a difference in my energy levels.

They don't give me energy, but they keep me healthier, which gives me energy.

Spring arrives this week and winter will come officially to an end. There will still be snowstorms, mind you, but they will eventually peter out. As we spend more time outside, the flu season will eventually come to an end, as well. That is, just as long as we remember to stay away from that sneezed-on container of cottage cheese in the grocery store.

No comments: