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Typhoid Marys…

December 20th, 2007 · 2 Comments

I’m becoming a germophobe. I’m already a curmudgeon, a grouch, an instigator, and an a-hole, so adding the title “germophobe” to the list really isn’t much trouble.

It’s not that I’m afraid of bacteria and viruses. It’s more that I get angry (really angry) at the people who are obviously carriers and don’t care enough to do the things they should do until they get over their illnesses.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I took my wife and daughter to a local Baskin Robbin’s ice-cream shop. As I watched a pleasant young lady dish out my girl’s ice cream, the second clerk behind the counter (a young man) waited for the next customers to decide what they wanted. As he waited, he coughed several times into his hand and wiped his nose with his thumb and forearm often.

“Are you sick?” I asked him.

“Yeah. Getting over it though,” was his reply.

“Why are you here at work?” I asked him.

“What do you mean? I need the money!”

“You do realize that you work in the food service industry? You do realize that every person that comes in here is exposed to your illness, whether you help them or not, simply by your coughing and sneezing?” I asked.

Fast-forward to three days ago. Ordering a nice fish burrito from the Rubio’s Baja Grill at SAN while we waited for our next flight, I noticed that the “person” who took my order was sniffling, coughing, and rubbing his/her nose as he/she rang up my order.

“Are you sick?” I asked.

“Jes. I seek.”

“If you’re sick, you should NOT be here today working at a place that serves food to people. You’ll spread whatever it is you have. You should be home convalescing. Please cancel my order.” I said.

“Why? Ahhh! Joo no get seek!!”

What is it that people don’t understand about staying away from other people when they’re sick? Even here at my airline, it’s a problem. In the last three weeks, I can say that I’ve flown with so many flight attendants who have shown up to work sick that I’d need to take a shoe off to count them all. Here is an employee who is in a safety-related position who obviously isn’t in the best frame of mind because of their head colds/sore throats/fever who consciously decides to forsake the wellbeing of everyone they serve a beverage to (not to mention their coworkers that are cooped up in a poorly-ventilated metal tube with them all day) and come to work in an obviously contagious state.

In many other civilized countries, anyone who is ill and has to go out and be among other people will wear a mask to prevent the spread of whatever airborne bug has gotten them. SMART! Even SMARTER is STAYING HOME until you’re no longer feeling the effects of the illness!!

Why does this sort of thing get me all upset? Well, I happen to be one of the unfortunate types who seems to catch everything that’s thrown my way. When my little girl brings a bug home from preschool, I can pretty much count on getting it three days later. I wash my hands often. I avoid contact with people who are sick (if I can). I avoid touching my mouth and nose with my hands. I use antibacterial hand wash. I take vitamins. I still get sick.  Head colds? Check. Strep throat? Check. I get something every two to three months, it seems. That does miserable things for my sick-pay bank. I’ve never been able to accumulate more than about 45 trips for pay, which is just enough to cover maybe two weeks worth of flying. But I can’t fly with a headcold. I can’t fly with strep throat. I can’t fly with ear infections. I want to be a reliable employee. I want to come to work. I want to save the company the money it would have to spend to have my trip covered while I’m sick. But I don’t want to come to work if I’m sick, for obvious reasons.

What’s so difficult to understand about staying home if you’re sick?

Another thing I have problems with (though not as frequently) is strong or liberally-applied perfumes and colognes. My sinuses literally slam shut in the presence of some strong eau-du-toilets. Occasionally, a clueless (and frankly inconsiderate) flight attendant will show up to the airplane (typically, they’re males) smelling as if they literally showered in whatever cologne their wearing.

This happened this morning, actually. I was the second person into the hotel van and my nose was absolutely assaulted by the overpowering cologne the flight attendant sitting in the back of the van was wearing. I woke up feeling great, but within five minutes of riding in the van with this guy, I couldn’t breathe. I’ve had clogged sinuses and ears ever since. These sorts of allergic reactions take me about two days to get over.

Of course, I have to work while I overcome the reaction.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Zach // Dec 24, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    I hear you dude – I work at a fancy schmancy grocery store I can’t stand it when people come to work sick. It not only makes other people ill but we are handling food! C’mon. I find it very selfish when people do this and I think it should be REQUIRED to send people home when they are feeling under the weather.

  • 2 Nicolas // Dec 24, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I heard a cough at lunch today just about went nuts. Watch out for Santa tonight. That’ guy is way over 65 and he isn’t known for talking to ATC.

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