People I Want to Punch in the Throat: How Not to Stop the Flu Epidemic

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How Not to Stop the Flu Epidemic

I read today that a New York City youth soccer league is taking precautions to stop the spread of the flu virus that is raging through Manhattan. They are discouraging their elementary school aged players from giving high fives to one another for a good play or shaking hands with their opponents after a game.

So when Rocco scores a goal his teammates need to give him an air five and when Isolde's team beats the pants off Fern's team, they will nod at each other and say "Good game" instead of shake hands. Yeah, that should totally stop the spread of flu! Great idea.

Right, because this will make a dent in the amount of new cases of influenza popping up in New York City. Don't get me wrong, kids are filthy little creatures full of germs and they love to spread them and I'm always looking for new ways to avoid touching them. (This is why I could never be a school teacher. I literally cringe when I see my son's teacher pet his sweaty mop of hair or hold his grimy hand. I always remind her that we don't pay her hazard pay and that I love that kid with my whole being, but I still won't let him touch me until he's had a shower.) However, I don't think stopping a handshake or a high five is going to do much when New York City is in the grips of a flu epidemic.

Not when the rest of the city is so disgusting.

Let's talk about the subway. A high five is banned, because that can transfer germs, but what about the subway? Even on a good day when there isn't a pandemic, the subway is a cesspool. How about disinfecting the subway? Do you know what lives on those poles that everyone holds on to? I've actually seen people lick the pole and wipe their snot on the pole and wipe God only knows what else on the pole. Do you know how close you ride to some infected asshole who was far too important to take the day off for a "touch of the flu"? Close enough that when the asshole sneezes, he sneezes in your mouth. Maybe everyone who rides the subway should be issued a mask and a pair of disposable gloves. Or a haz mat suit. If I still lived there, I would be commuting in a haz mat suit at this point. It's the only logical and sane choice. (Believe it or not, I'm not even a huge germaphobe, can you imagine how real germaphobes are handling this flu outbreak?)

What about taxi cabs? I didn't take taxis very often since the subway was so much cheaper, but when I did, I always tried not to touch anything.  Even though every surface is plastic and it seems like the interior of the cab could just be hosed down every night, I got the impression that that rarely happens. I would perch on the edge of my seat and hold all of my belongings in my lap. I never wanted to rest my head against the seat, because I was afraid of getting lice. I'd seen enough episodes of "Taxi Cab Confessions" to freak out if there was a sticky spot on the seat. Plus, again there is a strong chance of catching a sneeze in the face, cab drivers love to work when they're sick. They can't make money if they're home in bed.

What about street vendors and bartenders? How many grubby hands touch people's food and drinks along with germy money and credit cards? Plus, this is another industry where people don't get paid sick leave, so you know they're dragging their feverish bodies into work and squeezing a lime in your drink or serving up your souvlaki with their bare hands.

I would rather catch the flu than touch this dollar bill. I don't think I can ever touch cash again.
And the sheer volume of contaminated door handles, elevator buttons, escalator handles, and stair rails in that city makes my skin crawl.

I think it was a good effort put forth by the soccer league, but until New York douses itself in Purell and Lysol and issues haz mat suits, a ban on high fives at soccer games isn't going to do squat.

39 comments:

  1. Love this! As a teacher, I have spent every day cleaning desks, sometimes even between classes (I am a high school teacher), personally putting Purell in each students' hand, and banning them from touching anything on my desk! And still, I know that we can't prevent the flu from going around. The one thing I can say about teachers is...we have pretty darn good immune system. :)

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  2. I worked in a restaurant for over ten years and had to work when I was sick all the time. I even had tables complain to management a few times because I was clearly not well enough to be working (and had to go in since we had to find people to cover our shifts and people rarely wanted to pick up shifts). Another server and I were both pretty obsessive about hand washing and carrying sanitizer with us all the time (we both cleaned our hands after we touched money and again before we touched any plates, glasses, or utensils), but not everyone was as "uptight" about germs as we were (are). It's so gross to think about, isn't it? I'd rather roll around on the floor of a truck-stop bathroom than put a lemon wedge in my drink at a restaurant during flu season (especially if the restaurant is kid-friendly).

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  3. When I was bank teller, I had a young girl that came in who was a stripper, and every Monday she would bring in lots of cash, (mostly 1's), and some of them were wet, stuck together, and they always smelled like beer and sex. I always washed my hands really good after handling her money. She was very sweet though,...I could see why she made so much!

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  4. I'm not a germophobe either but my favorite is going to a birthday party and someone cuts the cake...and licks his/her hands between each slice! Seriously! At least do that where I can't see it!

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  5. I read this right after I got done disinfecting all the surfaces in my office! I work in a warehouse so we get semi-truck drivers in pretty often and let me tell you I wipe everything down after the leave during cold and flu season. And if I run out of Lysol wipes, I have a bottle of rubbing alcohol on my desk that I use! Trust me I'm doing everything in my power to avoid getting sick!!

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  6. I had your same thought when I read that article - WHAT ABOUT THE SUBWAY? unless they've got people with canisters of lysol strapped to their backs hosing every car down every 2 minutes, the high fives are the least of their worries.

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  7. Ban tamiflu, that's right, ban it. It used to be that when you had the flu, you stayed home unless you had to go to the hospital. Now, everyone wants a prescription. They go to the doctor's office, spreading the flu, they then go to their pharmacy, which is sometimes located in a box store, and while there they go ahead and get their groceries, sharing the flu with everyone! That is why it is so bad this year and will continue to be bad. Tamiflu.

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    1. It doesn't do much good anyway. Everyone wants medicine for everything, that is why people are always sick!

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    2. Great point, myselfasme. I hadn't thought of that.

      I don't know about high-fives, but we should ban the church door greeter who INSISTS on shaking everyone's hand (even when you're holding your purse, coat, and diaper bag), AND the part of the service where we're told to greet the people around us. At least during flu season, a nice smile and "hello" will do just fine, thankyouverymuch.

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    3. LOL,I thought I was the only one who hated the meet and greet time during church.I carry a big bottle of Purell in my Sunday purse and dole it out right after shaking hands.My husband once called me antisocial when I told someone "I have a condition" instead of shaking her hand(I saw her sniffling-not taking a chance).

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    4. They just banned the meet and greet at our church until further notice because of the flu epidemic. Good thing. I used to sit there watching the person coughing through mass in front of me praying they wouldn't stick their hand out. I can politely nod and keep my hands at my side but my kids get suckered into it.

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  8. Money is nasty gross. Blech.

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  9. If they really wanted to eliminate the flu among kids,they would ban play places in restaurants.Those places are nasty.

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  10. I just read this after getting home from the Pedi's office where, in the waiting room, I witnessed wee ones snotting all over the toys in there and then putting their fingers in their mouths. I almost gagged. Why not retire the toys during flu season? I know it's hard to keep them busy while they wait but yuck. All I can think of is..."came to doc's office for one thing, left with 3 more things.." You're welcome. Wake up me up when this season is over...this has been a nightmare. Hilariously disturbing post by the way. xoxo I'd high five you, but you know...**cough**

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  11. One particularly bad flu year our church stopped doing the part where everyone stood up and shook hands. I didn't think it really did much to prevent the spread of disease, but I was okay with it because that part always makes me feel uncomfortable. How many hands am I required to shake? Do I leave my pew? How long am I supposed to stand up? I don't want to be rude, but these heels are killing me and I want to sit back down.

    As for the dollar bill from the stripper's ass...therein lies the beauty of debit cards.

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  12. EW. I'm thinking they should make all sick kids play soccer in those giant hamster balls ala Boy In The Bubble. It would make children's soccer a helluva lot more interesting, too. AMIRIGHT? ;)

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  13. Hilarious! My boys are germballs. Period. And they love to hold money, which makes it even worse.

    I have to ask, though, what's wrong with the fist bump? I'm moving for that in the Catholic mass instead of the handshake/peace.

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    1. Ha! LOVE the fist bump idea! Not sure I can picture the Pope doing it, though. ;)

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  14. With all of Manhattan's private and elite schools....how do such idiots get to teach/coach them???

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  15. I had to laugh when I saw this. I was at my son's Boy Scout meeting the other night and they were doing the closing, where they join hands and pray. One of the boys complained, "But, it's flu season!" I think he may be hearing that a lot at home. They prayed anyway, btw. My son is a petri dish.

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  16. Hmmm...this is making me rethink having my cousin and her family come up this weekend from the Bronx...PLUS she is a teacher, PLUS she has a five and an eight year old. Maybe I should get hazmat suits for us!

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  17. apparently everyone missed how flu is actually transmitted??? Droplets.....so making everyone wear masks out in public is about the only thing going to possibly make a dent.

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  18. I had to take my perfectly well 13 year old to the pediatrician yesterday for the third installment of her Gardicil vaccine. Used my own pen out of my purse to sign the paperwork. Then she and I stood huddled together in the middle of the waiting room, so we didn't touch ANYTHING. Around us were sniveling, feverish children. We both stood in the exam room as well and practically bathed ourselves in GermX as soon as we got in the car. Gahhh!

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  19. mmmmmmmm...tasty $$$

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  20. I'm a teacher and I had the proudest moment of my 11 year career last week. Damn kids are always getting me or my husband sick. Well, finally I got my revenge! Somehow I started feeling sick the Sunday before going back after winter break. (Not sure how since I drank booze, played online, watched movies and took naps for two weeks?) Went to school that Monday and got worse and worse. Had to actually use a sick day on Friday!!! (Most teachers use "sick" days for mental health days. Think shopping, sleeping, watching the damn royals get married, mani/pedi, vacations, etc...) Came back to work on Monday, still sick of course!, and I had five kids out sick. That's right folks, I finally got THEM sick!!!! The numbers have gone up and down of these sickies, plus the usual skippers, and I can't wait to see what Friday has in store! Hoping for a class of 15 so I can actually meet their needs- all day recess!!!

    Sloppy XOXO's,
    Stephanie

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    1. Ahhhh! Revenge! So sweet! I teach preschool, and I name every cold I get after the kid I got it from.

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  21. As a hairdresser we are contaminated on a daily basis. We also don't get paid if we are out and unfortunately we don't do our best work when we are sick so really who wants to spread germs, go to work sick, do a crappy job lose clients, so it is best to just stay home. People on the other hand aren't as considerate. Just last week, I had a client come in because "she just couldn't take" being in the house the another day". She had the flu but was feeling a little better! Really ass!@#$!!!! I worked on her for 1 hr (which should have taken 1/2) while she had to have me stop constantly so she could have a coughing fit and blow her nose. Our salon is quite large so we do certain work (chemicals) in one area and the cutting part in another. She had to stop to catch her breath while walking (because her lungs were still congested) to the next area for her cut. But she "was feeling better". On the other note, went to the dentist today on the Door entrance into the office there was a sign that said "if you are experiencing the smallest symptom of the flu, please DO NOT come in please call this office and we will GLADLY reschedule your appointment. We WILL at our discretion not treat you if we feel that you or our staff are sick in any way. I walked into that Dentist and thanked everyone in there and told the dentist that I respect her decision and wish my work felt the same way. Going back next week to finish my work and I am going to bring that office a treat for their consideration.

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    1. You have the best dentist EVER for doing that!

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  22. AMEN! There are so many germs out there, high fives are not the cause. I love your perspective, we have so much in common. Honestly, being a teacher has made me a terrible germaphobe. Kids are gross, but I still love them.

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  23. That dollar is hilarious!! Maybe I will make some of those up and put them into circulation! (third comment down, made by Leslie = definitely a comment of the week!! LOL!)
    Devan

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  24. omgosh - i'm not leaving the house again until spring...or touching money ever. again. and yeah kids are gross and boy kids are even more gross. They'll pick up a toothpick on the subway and chew on it and then chase those germs with a good lick of that pole.

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  25. Yes, I agree...disturbing. We're all getting diagnosed with OCD now because of incessant purell use. Oh, and buy stock in that shit.

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  26. I am a teacher. I teach preschool. They are the germiest of all germ factories. I have been a preschool teacher for four years. I started in the middle of the H1N1 scare. I worked one day and then my district closed fire two days to disinfect everything because so many were sick. I never got it. I have been sick once in four years and that was pink eye that I got after volunteering at an event were I had to handle money all day. I know I got it there because I saw a teenager from that event later and his eye was cherry red. Teachers have super human strength immune systems. I get the occasional sinus infection and that is all. I am considering submitting a blood sample to the NIH so they can create a broad spectrum antibiotic, lol!

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    1. Please oh please oh please, can you send me some of your immune system????! I'm in my 3rd year teaching middle school (4th working here in general) and I swear I still get almost every infection my sweet petri dishes bring into my room. =P I'm pretty sure that I should just start drinking hand sanitizer at this point.

      Also, after working in every age classroom from kindergarten through 8th, I have to say that 7th & 8th graders are THE WORST about putting things into their mouths! I have had 8th grade boys drop food out of their mouth onto the floor, pick it up, and continue eating it.

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  27. I laugh at people I work with that are bathroom germophobes. That room is cleaned multiple times per day. The germs are mostly in the rest of the building including your own desk.

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  28. Forget the fist bump, are they still allowed to do the "good game" butt tap?

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  29. "Don't get me wrong, kids are filthy little creatures full of germs and they love to spread them and I'm always looking for new ways to avoid touching them."

    Definitely QFT! The funniest part about this outbreak is people don't know that even when you start to feel better you can still transmit the virus. Basically not touching your face or wearing gloves and a mask are your only options

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  30. Went to a buffet last night (yes, I realize that was my first mistake). There are signs all around the food that say "Children Under 10 Must be with an Adult." As we walked to our table, I saw a kid, about 5 years old, picking up orange slices, putting them back, and then eating one right there at the buffet. No parent in sight. Gross.

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