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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Please Cover Your Mouth (Goddammit)

Posted by on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 1:27 PM

I don't want to be a panic-monger but this year's flu season isn't screwing around. Deaths in the past few days include a 13 year-old girl; a healthy, 29 year-old nursing student and mother of three; a Florida woman in her 30s; a 53 year-old Oregon woman; and a robust-looking lifeguard/paramedic.

We're still waiting on the latest data from the CDC (their most recent numbers end on Dec 28), and their spokespeople are saying it's too early to compare this season to others, but the early information isn't looking good. The only US-affiliated acreage without flu are the US Virgin Islands and Guam, flu-related hospitalizations in states like Colorado have tripled since late December, and states like North Carolina are seeing more deaths and people on life support than they had this time last year.

Which brings me to my point: Please cover your goddamned mouth.

It's like people have forgotten the simplest, lowest-maintenance, Victorian-era etiquette this year—or maybe I'm just hypersensitive. Either way, I counted a dozen people yesterday openly hacking away on sidewalks, in grocery stores, and on their way in and out of restaurants. The biggest offenders, demographically speaking, were young men. (Surprise, surprise.)

The flu isn't killing a lot of people, but it is killing some—kids, moms, otherwise healthy people without underlying conditions. The least you can do is wash your hands and try to restrain yourself from hacking your sputum all over the rest of us.

Thank you.


Comments (30) RSS

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Get your damn flu shot while you're at it!
Posted by Senor Guy on January 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
emma's bee 2
Thank you for this rant. And for using 'sputum' properly.
Posted by emma's bee on January 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM · Report this
Dougsf 3
And stay home, ferchissake. If your boss thinks having you there sick is somehow beneficial to the company, explain to them politely that they're an idiot.
Posted by Dougsf on January 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
@1 I got sneezed on by the clerk at Walgreens about forty seconds after getting my flu shot.
Posted by tkc on January 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
word3 5
Today's LA Times advocates switching from the handshake to the "fist bump" to minimize the spread of the flu. While I do like that solution my preference is still the flu shot.
Posted by word3 on January 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Hopefully it was just a regular sneeze. Nasty but not lethal.
Posted by Senor Guy on January 9, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Gawdamnit, Brendan!

You can't expect militantly ignorant Ameritards to practise simple manners and etiquette, fercrissakes!

Most ameritards today are only good for spitting, smoking, drinking, stinking and doing drugs --- the gods forbid they should actually ever reason or know anything or exhibit curiousity about anything.

An ameritard who can figure out anything today would have plenty figured out, yet events are far worse today, then back when I was a kid!
Posted by sgt_doom on January 9, 2014 at 1:52 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 8
@5 - "Nice to meet you."
"Ow! What did you just stab me with?"
"The flu shot. YOU'RE WELCOME."
Posted by MacCrocodile on January 9, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
rob! 9
Whatthehell is wrong with perfunctory bowing in place of handshakes?!
• Greeting Bow, Eshaku (会釈), 15 Degrees: This bow is for greetings, mostly for people you already know or are equals with. The “nod-bow” above is similar, but for when you know someone a lot better. This bow is probably for people you’ve met before and are familiar with, but not familiar enough to just go for the nod.
Posted by rob! on January 9, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Dougsf 10
I say we go with the curtsy.
Posted by Dougsf on January 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 11
Hell yes!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on January 9, 2014 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Remind others to cover their cough with their elbows, not their hands. One does not open doorknobs or clutch bus poles with their elbows.
Posted by pussnboots on January 9, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
seattleeco 13
I was in line for coffee the other day. The woman behind me coughed onto my neck. Directly onto my neck, no apology afterwards. I was taken aback by the sheer disgusting nature of the act, and so I didn't turn around and deck her...Did I miss the part where we all turned back into snot-nosed toddlers?

Also, seriously, many people (like me!) have compromised immune systems to preexisting illness/drugs that prevent illness/miscellaneous other reasons that we special immunological folks have. Please get your fucking flu shot, because unfortunately my feeble body cannot fight off your stupidity.
Posted by seattleeco on January 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 14
Sorry, @12, but I can't put my elbow over my mouth.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on January 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
Knat 15
@7: The rest of us can only aspire to be as polite, thoughtful, and amenable to suggestion (and knowledgeable!) as you are, sgt_doom.

How's that leaving-SLOG-forever project going, by the way? You never give us updates, and you're nearing a year now.
Posted by Knat on January 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 16
And don't forget to wash your hands.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on January 9, 2014 at 3:36 PM · Report this
As an aside, anyone hear any word yet on how well this year's flu shot is working?
Posted by CPN on January 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 18
@14 - Can you at least cough or sneeze into something that isn't the surface you use most to physically interact with and manipulate the world around you?
Posted by MacCrocodile on January 9, 2014 at 4:14 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 19
Folks of the Orient discovered that a respectful bow solved the problem of spreading disease and still showed good manners. Take a bow. And those churchy type groups that love to hold hands at the end of services.....typhoid Mary en masse.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
Thank you for your rant. Those who still remember my name may be pleased to know that I am out of (a) a week's worth of intensive care and (b) another week of regular hospitalization due to the shakiness of an aged constitution having been whacked sideways by this year's flu AFTER I had both a flu shot and a pneumonia shot. Neither of them, as I understand, works instantaneously -- it takes a few days for the immunities to build up. (Note to those plotting to join Biggest Loser: dropping 18% of your bodyweight due to age and illness doesn't count.) I am now going to go back to my cranky little cot.
Posted by Calpete on January 9, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
emma's bee 21
@20: welcome back among the living, CalPete! Your story, exactly, is why it pays to have just a little extra padding as one ages.
Posted by emma's bee on January 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM · Report this
If you have no elbows, of course you can't put you elbow over your mouth. And yes, I know two individuals that have no elbows, only hands. However, they can't cough into their hands anyways, because their arms are too short.
Think of how people fall asleep on the beach with arms over their eyes. If you are still trying to visualize. Cover your mouth with your elbow pit.

Posted by pussnboots on January 9, 2014 at 6:29 PM · Report this
Sorry. @14 not 12.
Posted by pussnboots on January 9, 2014 at 6:31 PM · Report this
"The biggest offenders, demographically speaking, were young men. (Surprise, surprise.)"

I'm not sure what this means. Are you saying you followed some sort of demographic research process here or do you just have a thing for, or-lack-there-of, young men?
Posted by Catonaleash on January 9, 2014 at 8:18 PM · Report this
@24 He's stating the obvious: In public, young men are more apt to not give a fuck about showing proper hygiene.

(However, having lived in close proximity to girls, I can tell you that in private, they are gross as hell.)
Posted by UNPAID COMMENTER on January 9, 2014 at 10:38 PM · Report this
@17 - I heard a health dpt official on the radio saying that this year's flu vaccine accounted for the nasty strains (notably h1n1 of pandemic fame) at work this year. I got my flu shot today, as I intended after hearing the story on the radio, but this post reminded me to do it.
Posted by anon1256 on January 9, 2014 at 10:40 PM · Report this
Auragasm 27
I work at a health clinic, and got my complimentary flu shot 4 goddamn weeks ago, and it didn't stop me from catching the shit at an overcrowded New Year's party, missing 5 days of work, sitting on the couch sweating with the chills and sputtering pathetically. All my coworkers are getting it, too. The shot may have protected us from some other flu, but not this strain.

Cover your mouth with your elbow pit. Wash your fucking hands, especially you gents who think you're exempt from handwashing. Use a tissue or paper towel to open doors, or use your elbow if it's a lever. Also, a simple "I'd shake your hand, but..." will suffice, people aren't that petty.
Posted by Auragasm on January 10, 2014 at 7:32 AM · Report this
Not only do I cover my mouth (with the crook of my elbow, NOT my hand), I wash my hands often and I'm getting my flu shot after work today.
Posted by treehugger on January 10, 2014 at 8:06 AM · Report this
Had to walk by a sickly Mormon tribe this morning - line of 7-8 kids, mom, dad - all openly hacking and spreading their germs throughout the store. Not a one even made the attempt to cover their mouth. Turned around and walked back out....after I stood in the doorway for a minute or two longer than necessary and let the fresh, cold air into the store. Store manager looked like she wanted to put face masks on them all.
Posted by StuckInUtah on January 11, 2014 at 2:08 PM · Report this
It looks ridiculous, but I half-squat and sneeze on the floor, unless there are munchkins around, in which case it's the crook of my arm.

I have an atrociously bad immune system where respiratory infections are concerned, and in the past few years I've gone full-on Niles Crane (or is Adrian Monk a better pop-culture reference?). I open doors with paper towels or my shirt cuffs, use paper napkins to pick up bottles of sauce at restaurants, and carry a Zip-loc bag of disinfectant wipes for shopping cart and basket handles. This is kind of a PITA and can look ridiculous, too, but I'm down from four to six months a year of bronchitis to one at most, so it seems to be paying off. (I also haven't gotten the flu since going obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive hypochondriac.)

Tip 1: When you use a public restroom, use paper towels to turn off the tap at the sink and to open the door when exiting ... because other people don't. I've only ever since this advice in the bathroom "notice to employees about washing hands" in a single restaurant in my entire life, which is not very encouraging.

Tip 2: Avoid eating at restaurants and shopping at grocery stores that presumably don't provide all of their workers generous paid sick leave and health insurance. (It's a fair bet that most low-wage part-timers don't get either.)
Posted by PCM on January 11, 2014 at 10:20 PM · Report this

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