Etiquette: Flu Fighters Edition

Has anyone come down with that all-too-nasty flu yet? The other day, I wanted an excuse to stay in bed for a couple days and wished I, too, could come down with it. But it apparently lasts for three weeks or more, and I don’t want to feel like hell that long. There are, however, some etiquette-ish concerns when it comes to the flu and other illnesses that are easily passed from one person to another. And here they are:

Don’t feel guilty for hand sanitizing. I work with kids all day long. I like to call them plague rats. Four-foot-tall germ factories plus enclosed spaces plus the amount of times I touch my face in the day equals one sick me. So every time I walk by a bottle of hand sanitizer, I quickly pump some into my hands and rub dry while I walk and talk. By the end of the day, I smell like a five year old who got into her mother’s perfume, but I have killed anything that might be living on me. And who cares if the kids, school, or other teachers believe I think they’re gross. If they’re not sanitizing, they are gross. The end.

Don’t shake hands. Just don’t do it. I guarantee you, the other person has sneezed or coughed into that hand or absentmindedly wiped their nose on it. Afraid the other person will think you’re rude for not shaking hands? Just practice the following phrase: “I apologize for not shaking your hand. I might be coming down with something and don’t want to pass it on.” Then you take full responsibility for any possible illness and you don’t have to touch anyone.

Cover your mouth. WITH YOUR ELBOW. Let’s all practice the vampire sneeze. Sneeze into your elbow so that your mouth germs don’t get into the air or on your hands. I heard on the news that one sneeze can release 200 MILLION flu germs into the air. Hey Coughy McSneezerson, you are PATIENT ZERO. Cover it up!

Just stay home. I know. You have work to do. You’re busy. But you are going to bring your office to a standstill if everyone is out with the flu. Do your coworkers a favor and just stay home. Stay there until you have not run any sort of fever for at least 24 hours. Being a hero will not make you any friends. Stay in bed and read a book. The world thanks you.

This is, of course, all common sense.  But aren’t all things polite nothing but common sense?  (Of course!)

Tom Hiddleston sneezing into his hand
Dear Tom: You’re doing it wrong.

By amandamarieg

Amandamarieg is a lawyer who does not work as a lawyer. She once wrote up a plan to take over the world and turned it in as a paper for a college course. She only received an A-, because she forgot that she would need tech geeks to pull off her scheme.

17 replies on “Etiquette: Flu Fighters Edition”

Last weekend, my boss’s bf was hospitalized with the “worst case of the flu they’ve ever seen.” Two days later, she was huddled in our stockroom with two coats on and the deathliest shade of green to her face. So, we did what any good coworkers would do, and followed her around with a can of Lysol. We have a decent sick policy at work and associates that have been there a few years have a good deal of PTO, so it peeves me when people come to work sick as hell. We work in a high-volume outlet store, with a couple thousand people passing through on a regular Saturday.

I just saw a story on the news about how people don’t have the time off from work to stay home when they are sick, and it’s been counted as a major reason the flu-season is so bad this year. When will employers catch on that people are not robots?!?!

We use a lot of santizer, and we are just an office of three fairly germ-aware people.

I use Clorox wipes liberally this time of year at home- on door knobs, appliances, bathroom fixtures, etc. My kids are incubators!

I wish I could stay home. However, I have minimal sick time (read: almost none), and my job requires there to be a body present (I can’t just leave my paperwork on my desk for when I return; I work in an industry that requires “coverage”), so staying home is often a logistical and financial impossibility.

The flu hit me a month ago and I am just starting to feel like a full-fledged human again. What really sucked was that it hit me the weekend before the final week of my semester, so I had to write a paper and take a final with it. I don’t even remember what I wrote for my final.

Ohhh I feel your pain. That’s happened to be TWICE. Both times I had to rush through my finals in class and then zip back home to bury myself under a mountain of blankets. The look on my professors’ faces screamed, “Poor baby! Get well soon!”

=( Some of us are temps with no sick days (no ANY days, really) and can’t afford to take the day off for fear of losing revenue and possibly our jobs with no warning. Got sick at my current job for the second time since starting it. All my coworkers are disgusting. No one covers their mouths, few wash their hands before leaving the restroom. And I’m a temp. Employers don’t even need to give us a reason for letting us go and I can’t risk giving them one

Yes, this right here. (Also, hourly employees who are seen as cogs instead of people.)

I only get paid when I’m at work, I don’t have the option to telecommute or make up work on a different shift. Even if you’re very lucky (like I am) and have a boss who will allow people to leave early or miss a day for illness (without consequence, so long as you actually work when you’re there and have a good attitude), that’s still hours without pay.

And your coworkers sound awful. Ugh.

I give people mad stink-eye when I see them cough or sneeze without covering with an elbow. Then I usually make a show of clearing my throat while covering properly.

I don’t normally like being such an ass, but I get so sick so easily. Last week I had a cold that was miserable. I’m very lucky that my employer is very good about sick days and will NEVER ask someone sick to come in. I was able to take a day off and watch Downtown Abbey while rotting in the bathtub. When I was a student working part-time, a cold would linger for weeks. Now that I’m able to get rest when I need it, a cold only lasts a few days.

I know that most people are not able to take time off like I am. People that cough and sneeze without covering are doing everyone a disservice.

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