In sickness and in health, consider others


Having recently spent a considerable amount of time forking over copays and fending off obviously contagious people who seem bent on coughing on me, I would like to ask one thing of my fellow humans: forget everything you learned in kindergarten.

If you even suspect you might be harboring the plague or smallpox or pink eye (just got that) then do the rest of us a favor. Don’t share!

Certainly there are some jobs that are simply indispensable. Everyone who has one will undoubtedly write to me. Nonetheless, even Superman should have a backup plan. Kryptonite happens.

If NASA can scrap a mission because an astronaut has a cold, then I’m guessing that many of us are a lot more expendable for a day or two than we are letting on.

On the other hand, I also understand that many people will go out and about spreading known contagion because they can’t afford — or aren’t permitted to — miss their commitments. Unreasonable deadlines, assignments, employers.

You name it, someone has had to go to work, school or daycare and infect us all.

Finally, some people honestly don’t have any clue that they are sick. That does happen. I harbor no ill will. (See what I did there?).

Illness is sneaky

Sometimes you just don’t know until it’s too late. On the other hand, it is the sneezy, sniffly, let-me-breathe-all-over-you while carrying on about how desperately-ill-I-am types that spike my fever.

The colleague who exhales the plague all over everything and then passes out the infected copies around the conference table? I’ll pass, thanks. DItto on the doughnuts they just coughed on. Imperfect.

Don’t even get me started on “Perfect Attendance Awards.” It can happen once — I get that. I accidentally got a certificate in middle school when I really didn’t get sick all school year. Nine months. It happens. Total accident I assure you.

Perfect attendance

When someone has perfect attendance for an entire school career? I’m skeptical. You were never sick? In thirteen years? If you got a certificate for perfect attendance for well over a decade I figure you either came to school sick at least once, or just got incredibly lucky.

Neither scenario requires undue applause. As a nation we malign sick days as if only sissies would need one. People brag about going to work within days of having a baby, dragging themselves to work on broken limbs, and going about their business with fevers so high they confess delirium.

Why are we so afraid to say as a nation that sometimes people need a day off? Forget the hacking martyr leaning over you on the production line or desk. I want a moment of applause and respect for the colleague who kept themselves and the bulk of their germs at home.

Who returned to work rested and ready to get the job done without taking out any innocent bystanders in the crossfire of a contagious sneeze. I’m really not much of a germaphobe. I don’t slather myself in sanitizer.

Common sense

I believe fervently that a little dirt never hurt. I just think it’s common sense — and common courtesy — to avoid spreading pestilence if you can help it.

Coughs, cold, various itchy and runny things. These are better kept to ourselves.

Some illness is inevitable and herd immunity is good but for goodness sakes if you know you might have a contagion — contain yourself!

If we can, I think we should adopt a new mantra for the coming winter. Rest, recuperate and don’t pass it on.

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