It all starts with some small sign: a slight itch at the back of your throat, a sneeze, or even just a headache. The next thing you know you are stuck in bed with a box of tissue, bottles and boxes of medicine, a two-liter of Vernors, feeling completely miserable, and wondering how this happened to you!
This past Sunday while at Mass, the woman sitting in front of my husband politely declined to shake anyone’s hand during the sign of peace stating that she was sick with the flu. A few minutes later that exact same woman got up and began serving Holy Communion! Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the healing power of God, but I also think God gave us common sense for a reason.
I have heard many mothers complain about random people trying to touch their small children, or someone being served at a restaurant by a waiter with a visible red nose, or just standing behind someone in line who doesn't cover their mouth when they cough. I understand that some situations are unpreventable, but the majority definitely is. It would be ideal if every sick person could stay home until they are well again, but unfortunately this is not always possible. Therefore, there are a few basic etiquette rules that should be followed:
It is important to have respect for one another’s personal space. Refraining from touching other people or their possessions while you are ill will help prevent the spread of germs.
Always ask a parent’s permission before touching their child… this should be a rule whether you are sick or not. It is also the parent’s right to say “No” to your request. It is their child after all. (*Side note: This rule also applies to touching a pregnant woman’s belly. More on this some other time.)
Wash your hands. Again, this should be a rule whether you are sick or not, but some people need reminding. If washing your hands isn't an immediate option, keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you is always a good idea.
Cover your mouth, preferably with a tissue or handkerchief, when you, and/or your child, cough, sneeze, or even yawn. Then go wash your hands. This should be common knowledge, but I’m amazed at how often this rule is not practiced.
At the end of the day, just having basic respect for other people and your contact with them will have a huge impact on helping to prevent spreading the flu to both friends and strangers. People will appreciate your decline for personal contact, and respect you for thinking of their health first.
What is your biggest pet peeve during the Flu season?