Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Please ask me before you share.

It's 'flu season.  I don't have it, but after being on public transport today I've increased my zinc dosage and positive thinking shield in the hope that I will remain untouched.  As I catch public transport everywhere I know it's probably just a matter of time.

Travelling home this evening, I was encased in a carriage with a man who was sweating so much he had to mop his face with a handkerchief repeatedly during the journey.  He was coughing without covering his mouth, generously sharing whatever he was carrying with all of us and doing that revolting super sniff.  I'm not talking about mere sniffing where one breathes in through the nose.  I'm talking about the action that results in whatever is residing in the nasal passages being inhaled back down the throat.  Oh the sound that signals that!  It is a beastly symphony! Worse than the soundtrack of a horror film.

One person making these sounds within a carriage seems to trigger the sinuses and throats of at least half of the fellow passengers.  Soon it becomes a percussive symphony, threatening illness with every beat, every vibration.

At one level there is the rhythmic sniffer, recognisable by the single sniff every four beats or so.  It doesn't sound particularly congested but it IS annoying.  If they are nearby, I usually offer a tissue.  They either take the tissue or they shut up.

Add in coughers at various pitches.  The wet tenor cough, awful with rattling.  Sometimes in harmony with a soprano toddler who is guaranteed to not cover the mouth.  The dry barking baritone, usually played in triplets, offering interest with the cross rhythm it adds.

It's hard to believe that all of this is is barely enough to drown out the loud talkers on mobile phones revealing private details of their sex lives, deception of parents, financial failings and the more mundane bitching about co-workers and flatmates.

Days like today help me understand why Japanese people are frequently seen wearing masks.  I breathe into my scarf, am choosy about what I touch when I'm out and about and avoid touching my face or putting my fingers in my mouth.  I often refuse to shake hands or if this is not possible I carry hand sanitiser in my hand bag.  I use it after touching things that are likely to be germ laden and before and after I eat.  Can you imagine what would be on the handles in trains, the rails on escalators and staircases...and money?  Shudder. When I'm home, I just wash my hands.

As far as I know, I don't suffer from OCD but I will suffer if I can't work and therefore can't earn an income.

As a community service, I wish everyone would be considerate about when and how they share their germs and diseases. Asking permission before you cough all over me would be polite.  And I will refuse permission every time!

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