The Plague’s the Thing

man with flu #02a.png

I have a slight psychological condition that I have dubbed “Functioning Germophobia”.

By that I don’t mean that the germophobia is functioning (which it is, on all cylinders), but that I can still function normally because my germophobia is mild, not severe.

I am not like the character in the TV show “Monk”, though I can greatly sympathize with him.  In fact, some of the people who know me have given me the affectionate nickname, “Monk”.  I assume this is because of my mild germophobia, and not because I’d like to live a life of solitude in a remote monastery.  However, the monastery thing is out because I flunked Manuscript Illumination 101.

But this is not a post about germophobia.  I only bring it up in the interest of full disclosure … by admitting that I may be hypersensitive to what I am about to talk about.

No, this post is going to be a rant about common courtesy and common sense (both of which are about as common as unicorns and leprechauns … or even leprechauns riding unicorns).

How is it, in this modern age, that some people seem to be completely unaware of how cold and flu germs are spread?  This isn’t the middle ages, where we were innocently ignorant of how we were giving each other the plague.  We now know that cold/flu germs are spread in water droplets from coughs and sneezes, they they thrive on doorknobs, eating utensils, steering wheels, money, our hands, and any other surface you can imagine.

Why then, do a lot of people not cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze?

And of the people who do, why do a majority of them cough into their hands rather than into their sleeves or into a tissue or handkerchief?

And if, for some reason, they have to cough into their hands, why do they not then wash their hands or use hand sanitizer?

And for Pete’s sake, why do people reuse tissues?  They were designed to be disposed of after a single use!  They were not meant to be carried around in a pocket and re-used dozens of times!

I know some of you are now saying, “Jeez!  Calm down, Biff!  What got you so worked up?

I’ll tell you.

I have developed a cold that I believe could have been entirely prevented.  I know we live in a universe ruled by probabilities.  I might have gotten a cold regardless.  But I also believe we can lessen the odds of getting a cold through the use of a little common sense and common courtesy.

The person who I believe gave me this cold exhibited the following behaviors:

  1. Coughed and sneezed loudly and often, rarely covering their mouth, or, if they did cover their mouth, it was with their hand.
  2. After coughing or sneezing into their hand, they would then not wash their hands.
  3. After coughing/sneezing into their hands, they WOULD do some of the following;

    a.  Unload clean dishes out of the dishwasher.
    b.  Set plates, cups, and silverware on the table for dinner (making sure to touch the business end of the silverware, and not just the handles)
    c.  Handle food that others would be eating.
    d. Use items that others commonly use (TV remotes, light switches, doorknobs, keys, etc.) without making any effort to avoid contaminating them.  (For instance, when I have a cold, I operate light switches with my elbow or shoulder, not my hand.)


Well, needless to say, now I have a cold.

I tried to avoid it.  Even though I was the healthy one, I washed MY hands often.  I used bleach wipes on the communal items that I observed being contaminated.  I avoided eating things that I saw being contaminated.  I covered MY nose during egregious sneezes or coughs.  I even tried to avoid breathing sometimes (though one can only do that for so long).

But at the end of the day, I fought a losing battle.  We are helpless to try and prevent ourselves from getting a cold.  The odds are against us.

But we are completely in control over whether or not we give someone else a cold!

All it takes is a little common sense and courtesy.

Both of which are free.









  1. Dear Biff

    A very well-thought out and cunningly constructed blog post! Well done, old boy! I felt a frisson of satisfaction (or perhaps it was the Lurgi) as I completed it.

    I sneeze a lot and am a polished sneezer. I don’t like to toot my own horn (although I occasionally do after a sneeze), but many of my sneezes are so well-executed that there was some talk about making them an Olympic event.

    My sneeze acumen comes from the fact that I suffer allergies, that occasionally become so intense that I must remain home from work. Ever sneeze yourself silly, Biff? I have, and am pretty sure that it must have stuck, because I am QUITE silly.

    Yours sincerely,


    PS – just send me an infinite number of ‘Bless Yous’ this Xmas, Biff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya, Bro! I love your comments, but I hate that they are better than my actual posts. Your comments are simultaneously uplifting and devastating to my ego. My therapist says to tell you to keep up the good work.

      There is nothing like a good sneeze. They can be very cathartic, causing sensations of well-being, happiness, and sometimes a hernia. I’m not sure if I’ve ever sneezed myself silly, but I’ve sneezed so intensely before that I actually got lightheaded and had to sit down.

      I hope your allergies abate soon!

      PS — I have begun collecting infinity bless-you’s to send you for Christmas. I think I’ve collected about half of them so far, but it’s hard to tell.


  2. The people who cough all over you are horrendous. I got pneumonia once when someone came to my little cubicle and leaned over to show me something on the computer and the covered my airspace with an unencumbered cough. Uggggh! I saw somewhere that people are starting to fist-bump each other rather than shake each other’s hands. That’s a great idea…right up there with coughing in your sleeve. Let’s fist bump our way to healthfulness! I hope you feel better, and I agree with mad meg. Nyquil the hell out of the thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch! Pneumonia is no laughing matter. It’s too bad we can’t bring legal action against people who give us colds/flues/pneumonia. Unfortunately, at the moment, there’s no way to definitively say where we got it from. But maybe someday we’ll be able to trace an illness back to the perpetrator. And then all hell will break loose!

      I’m okay with the fist-bump thing, although I’d be even better with, say, an elbow bump. I have to admit, I die a little inside every time I have to shake someone’s hand. It takes every bit of strength I have not to pull out hand sanitizer right in front of them to wash my hands afterwards … or dart off to the restroom to wash my hands properly. I wish I were not this way, but unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our neuroses. They choose us.

      And agree about the NyQuil! I should be stock in the company! When I get sick I could drink the stuff by the railroad tanker car full. Some nights I feel like putting a little olive and a swizzle stick into the little plastic cup full of the neon anti-freeze colored liquid. Might as well be class while self-medicating, right?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha! Now that is a terrifying thought, Lorne! Internet-borne illnesses. I know viruses can transmit from computer to computer, but when they can start infecting humans, too, we are truly doomed.

      And I’m as thrifty as the next person, but even I will splurge on the 0.0003 cents that a tissue costs so that I don’t have to reuse them. 😀


  3. One problem with hand sanitizers is that they kill off good bacteria as well as bad. I’ve had dermatitis on my hand now for three years after using the antibacterial wash at work (which I left two and a half years ago) every time I wash using hand-wash in a restaurant or pub or public loo it flares up. I can’t not wash, so it gets worse. But I know how germs spread so I always wash my hands x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Christine. It try to use them sparingly. I only use them after visiting public restrooms or during cold/flu season. I try to be conscious of how often I wash my hands, for I did it compulsively for years. Now I sometimes make myself stop and count to ten before I wash my hands, giving myself time to decide if I really need to wash them or not.

      Sorry to hear about the dermatitis. I do hope it clears up! I, too, am quite sensitive to “ordinary” chemicals and so try to avoid them whenever possible, though my sensitivities are with my breathing. The smell of some common cleaning supplies will have me gasping for breath in less than a minute. I do wish our society wasn’t so dependent upon chemicals, but, unfortunately, I don’t see that changing any time soon.


  4. Love this! Not the plague part though. I can relate 100000% to this. I guarantee the person who did all of those disgusting things gave you the cold. This is why children are not at the top of my favorite things ( I mean, love mine but when sick…go away. I will hug you with the swiffer.) The little cherub-faced window licking booger picking ones are the worst. You might as well pick up a Petrie dish full of germs and suck it back like an oyster.
    Okay…rant over. But I do hope you get better soon!
    NyQuil NyQuil NyQuil😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Meg! I’m glad I’m not alone in my feelings of frustration and despair. I can almost forgive a child for being walking plague factories, for they may have the excuse that they did not not better. However, there is no excuse for a grown adult not to know how to avoid spreading plague across the land.

      Although I laughed at the image of you hugging someone with a Swiffer. I have been tempted to go buy some of those surgical masks and wear them around the house any time someone is ill.

      And I agree 100% about NyQuil! It is my drug of choice and when I feel a cold or flu coming on, I buy it by the case. It may not cure anything, but it sure helps me sleep through it and awake on the other side.

      Liked by 1 person

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