I’m not what you call germ-obsessed. I don’t have a bottle of hand sanitizer strapped to my purse. But I do take public transportation, which in the winter can be extremely hazardous to your health. They have posters in the buses and subway cars reminding people to essentially “sneeze in your sleeve.” No more do we cover our mouths with our hands. That is just so wrong, but you knew that, didn’t you?
Yesterday, I was on my way to the airport and managed to snag the very last seat on the shuttle bus. The gentleman next to me moved his carry-on bag out of the way to make room for me, and I noticed his name on the ID tag: Dwayne.
We had gone maybe a mile when he started sneezing. Violent spasms. Again and again: “Ah-CHEW! CHEW!”
And the spray. Oh, sweet mother, I’ve been hit!
“Bless you,” I said, adding quick prayer for myself.
“Thanks,” he said. “I just can’t seem to shake this cold.”
I knew I was doomed but I figured I might as well know what I was up against. How often to you get to interview a cold, or more specifically, the cold’s current host: Dwayne.
“Oh, you’ve had it a long time?” I asked.
“Going on a week,” Dwayne said, folding his handkerchief. “Probably during my last business trip.”
“Airplanes and buses are just large Petri dishes with wheels,” I said sympathetically. I wanted to earn his trust before I asked for his medical history.
He smiled. Let the interview begin.
“So, did it come on quickly?” I asked.
“Oh yeah. I felt fine all day, went to bed with a sore throat, and woke up with the cold,” Dwayne said. “Miserable.”
Miserable? That was just too generic. I needed specifics.
“Did you have the dreaded triumvirate: Chills? Fever? Cough?”
“Yes, yes, no,” he said. “Never did get a cough.”
OK, valuable information. I pulled out my cell phone and made a note to stop and pick up cold medicine. Skip the cough syrup. This is so much better than having to bundle up and drag yourself to the drug store when you are feeling miserable. Might as well get some ginger ale and ramen noodles while I’m at it, too.
Maybe I should get some Vitamin C and Echinacea that my friends are always touting. I wasn’t a fan. I’d tried the pills once or twice and still got a cold but never knew if it was not as severe as it would have been. But with the data I got from Dwayne (along with the cold germs), I could conduct my own personal clinical trial.
This time I won’t just endure the cold. I will, if not exactly embrace it, pay attention to it, study it.
I really need to get a life.