17 ‘Ala 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: Zero 7, “Polaris”
As a general rule, I haven’t worried much about colds or getting sick. I have a pretty strong immune system, and tend not to get many colds even during cold season. But it’s been interesting to observe other people dealing with colds or the possibility of colds.
One of my co-op housemates had a cold recently that lingered for awhile. She went to significant trouble to avoid spreading it. She made efforts to avoid us and even went as far as keeping the dishes she used separate from ours until she got better. One would think that a co-op house would be a breeding ground for illness, even in a house as small as mine. To my knowledge, though, no one else in the house caught her cold, so her efforts must have succeeded.
I work in an office with over a hundred people on my floor. A lot of times I don’t pay attention, but if I listen, I can hear coughing coming from different parts of the floor—sometimes near, sometimes distant. A couple of people have a cough that sounds like the scraping noise a car’s engine sometimes makes when it isn’t started properly. Different people have different standards regarding coming to work sick during cold season—some feel they need to tough it out in order to get work done, while others feel strongly that they should keep their germs at home.
But the most interesting place to observe cold season is on a bus. One bus I take tends to be very crowded. Last week, when it was colder out, I saw a couple of people on the bus cover their faces with scarves in an effort to avoid catching cold. Another time, a woman behind me coughed, and the woman next to her suddenly stood up as if she’d received an electric shock, and moved to another seat.
As for me, I have taken a few more precautions in the last year or so because colds exacerbate my asthma. I now keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on my dresser at home and my desk at work. Sometimes, when I wash my hands at work, I’ll take the paper towel I used to dry my hands and use it to open the door. I’ve taken Airborne on the days immediately preceding my two recent sleep studies because I knew a cold would force me to postpone the studies. I’m taking it now because I have a good friend visiting me from out of town next week for a few days, and don’t want to be sick then.
Frankly, I am bothered by the number of people who don’t cover their cough. There’s a guy on one of the buses I take whom I make it a point to sit as far away from as possible, because I have seen him cough multiple times on multiple bus trips without covering his mouth. I try not to think negative thoughts about him, but I admit that I get annoyed. Unfortunately, from what I’ve been able to see, he is in good company. One sign of this is the number of doctor’s waiting rooms that have signs telling people to cover their cough–apparently doctors have determined that people need to be reminded of this.
Nevertheless, I figure that I can only take so many precautions. If I catch something, so be it. (As long as it’s the week after next.) In any case, it’s getting warmer out, and cold season will soon pass.