Cold and flu season is here. It’s the time of the year where you can expect wet hacking, sniffling and the dark circles under many people’s eyes that betray a night filled instead with wheezing, tossing and turning.
As someone who regularly takes Los Angeles public transport (and generally doesn’t mind it), it fills me with a sense of existential dread when I see someone cough directly into the palm of his or her hand and then place said hand directly back on the Metro handrail. It affects me deeply when I see someone wipe his or her nose and then, without a thought, grab someone’s hand to tell them something exciting.
Now, I’m sick too. I rarely get sick, so it makes me a little angry when I do. Perhaps that’s why I’m frustrated by people who seem to have no sense of how germs spread and how it’s really just bad etiquette to do anything that involves interacting with your own bodily fluid and then sharing said fluid with the rest of the world.
Winter is generally seen as the time when cold and flu rates spike. It’s freezing outside, even California this year. Last week, I woke up to a mid-30s temperature and saw ice on my windshield – a shift that brings me a bit of existential dread, as it’s a signal of climate change.
Our changing environment aside, cold weather also means that people tend to spend more time indoors in close proximity to, well, other people – a fact that many doctors attribute the fast spread of illness to.
So what’s my plea? For the love of all that’s holy, cover your mouth when you cough for sneeze. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer (it’s a miracle product that gets rid of germs, and you can buy a two-pack for a little more than $5 at Walmart).
This might make me sound like a germaphobe. In fact, I know it does. But there’s nothing better than the satisfaction of slapping some hand sanitizer on after a long day interacting with other people’s germs, or walking into a class with five sneezing desk mates and knowing that it wasn’t you who got them sick.
If this column makes just one public transport cougher or officer sneezer rethink their actions, I’ll be able to sleep at night. If you need me, you can find me Clorox-ing all the doorknobs in my apartment.