Friday, October 2, 2009

One, Two, and the Germs Flew!

by Pa Rock
Health Nut


The Air Force hospital where I work had its annual "Safety Day" this week. The hospital employees - military and civilian - spent the morning going through various stations and learning a variety of things from how to get handicapped individuals downstairs in the event of an emergency to the proper method for sneezing. Yes, there is a curriculum outlining the best way to sneeze!

The current best standard is to sneeze into your sleeve. By doing that, your little germies get caught in the fabric where they hopefully die. The second best method is to sneeze into a tissue and then throw the tissue away. It is definitely not cool to hang onto the tissue for multiple uses! (Remember the old days when little boys used to carry handkerchiefs that would get cemented into a wad with a day or a week's accumulation of green winter snot? No wonder we were always sick!

One of the things we learned at Safety Day is that Swine Flu has already arrived in the Valley of Hell. Unfortunately the Swine Flu shots - that may or may not work - have not arrived. There was lots of instruction about the necessity of washing hands any time they come into contact with items that could carry germs - bathroom fixtures, door knobs, other people's hands, etc.

That was Tuesday. On Wednesday morning I was driving through McDonald's for my ritual morning breakfast - a sausage egg McMuffin that I share with Bob the Grackle, and a large, unsweet iced tea - when I observed a young crew kid sneeze directly into a cup of coffee that he had just poured. I assumed he would do the right thing and dump it out, but instead he deftly fitted the cup of coffee with a lid. That left me with an ethical dilemma: should I point out the error of his ways, hold up traffic in order to fuss, embarrass the kid, and maybe put his job in jeopardy, or should I drive on and hope the guy in the next car had a good immune system. And if I did do the right thing, would that same kid develop his own ritual of spitting on my sandwich, or worse, every morning?

I took the coward's way out, and am suffering shame for that decision. But the incident did make me realize how vulnerable we all are to the vagaries and moods of people working in the food industry. The swine flu is here, its dangerous, and we all need to be very, very careful. This would probably be an excellent time to go back to the old standard of packing a lunch!

1 comment:

Mike Box said...

You remind me why I choose to eschew fast food. I'd be more concerned if the sneeze had landed in a cold drink. The heat of the coffee was likely sufficient to neutralize dreaded pathogens. [At this point I refrain from my pre-programmed tirade about Tort law and the maligned victim of the Micky Dee coffee mishap].

But I am reminded to two young physicians with whom I attended church many years ago. They had a lovely boy the congregation affectionately called "Baby Charlie."

Baby Charlie would run amock during the Eucharist, often he would be playing with the Altar linens as Father Bob celebrated the cannon of the mass.

This was all the more disconcerting to the ladies of the Altar Guild who had to cleanse the linens. You see, Baby Charlie had a perpetual glob of green gunk growing from his nose.

His doctor parents each instructed every would be do-gooder to leave Baby Charlie's nose alone. That stuff, they reasoned, was building up the lad's resistance to disease.

About that time, I recall, the traditional handshake or hug that accompanied the "passing of the peace" was replaced by the less celebratory shoulder shrug.

Now think of all the cash you'll save from refraining from those golden arches.