How to Politely Avoid Sicknessby Sarah Tang on Oct, 01 2012
Happy Autumn, everybody! With the changing weather and the midterm season fast approaching, there is no better time for sickness to strike. You’ve probably already heard the warning shots – a cough behind you in lecture, a sneeze passing you by on the sidewalk, a sniffle across from you in the cafe. Even if you have a robust immune system and some hand-sanitizer in your backpack, you aren’t going to stick around to get a closer look – but what if social etiquette calls for proximity? Or worse, contact? Here are some common social complications a want-to-stay-healthy student may encounter:
They cough or sneeze into their hand then reach for yours in greeting. Don’t fall for it! I did, right over the dinner table. Then I excused myself and went to the bathroom to wash my hands before eating. A faster-thinking person would have had excuse ready, like, “Oh, my hands are sweaty.” This is probably the least impolite way to refuse a handshake.
When eating with group of Asians (usually). The lazy susan is crowed with steaming dishes, and the hungry diners forgo the communal spoons and simply attack the food with their own chopsticks. You say, heck with it, because you’re hungry, too, and just try to get to the good stuff before too many pick at it. I said, heck with it, even though the person right next to me was coughing and I knew what she had was going around the table since we all lived in the same hall. A few days later I was coughing, too.
It’s difficult to navigate this situation. If there’s proof right beside you that you could catch something, you might request that people use spoons or at least the other end of their chopsticks to serve themselves. Or you could set an example, then cross your fingers and hope others follow. It depends how much you want to risk, but it’s all better than ordering your own personal dish. That would be just the anti in anti-social.
Sharing Food or Drink
Similar to the above, except there is arguably less social obligation to share. You are eating your own meal or drinking your own drink, and a friend who has been eye-balling your food asks for a bite or a sip. Don’t do it! Just tell them you are sick, and they can’t argue with that – you’ve got their best interests in mind. Or, you could say that you are starving, but they can have what’s left when you’re done. Compromise. Charity. It’s all good.
Alternatively, somebody else offers you a bite of their meal or a sip of their drink. It’s actually harder to refuse this, since your germaphobia may come off as an insult. Again, you could say that you are sick. Or that you are full. Or allergic. Or religiously opposed to that type of meat. Or simply, nah I’m good. Just remember to thank them for the offer.
Taking shots from used shot glasses
Well, ethanol is a disinfectant. Chances are, if you’re drunk you don’t really care about catching anything, anymore. But if it’s your first shot, you could rinse the glass. Or, if you like to plan ahead, bring a donation of a drink with some disposable shot cups. Anything besides standing in the corner and only taking swigs from your own flask.
Good luck, and I hope you spend the rest of this semester in full health!