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:
- Coughed and sneezed loudly and often, rarely covering their mouth, or, if they did cover their mouth, it was with their hand.
- After coughing or sneezing into their hand, they would then not wash their hands.
- 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.