However, I have three pet peeves: (1) pedestrian etiquette, (2) taxi drivers who think I’m a tourist and don’t know the quickest route from A to B, and (3) bad manners, in particular, coughing without placing a hand or tissue over your mouth. I’ve already blogged about the first two, so I figure it’s time to deal with (3).
As a child, we were taught to cover our mouths when coughing or sneezing so that germs, viruses, whatever you had, weren’t spread to those around you. And this seems like a pretty easy thing to do in order to show others that you’re thinking of them and their wellbeing first and foremost. When someone with a cold, flu or other virus doesn’t cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, they’re saying, ‘I’m sick and I couldn’t care less if you end up sick as well.’
The average human cough fills about 3/4 of a two litre bottle with air together with approximately 3,000 droplets of saliva which fly out of the mouth at speeds up to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour)! And it’s even worse with a sneeze. Do you like the idea of being doused in someone else’s saliva? If that person is sick with a virus, the virus is on those droplets and can survive in the air for hours afterwards. A single cough can catapult as many as two hundred million individual virus particles in your direction; there is nowhere to hide.
Viruses need a living being (human or animal) to survive so when they land on a surface, their life span is limited to a few minutes or at best, in humid conditions for example, a few hours. They last longer on hard surfaces than on soft surfaces like fabric. And since we wash our hands several times every day, the chance of infection this way is less than if we breathe in the virus—we can't avoid breathing but we can avoid putting hands in our mouth.
The World Health Organization has predicted that the next pandemic that will kill millions, will be spread in this way, and it is not a case of ‘if’ this will happen but ‘when’. So practicing the hand-over-mouth drill now will reduce the risk of this killer virus spreading worldwide in record time. We’ve already had a glimpse/warning with SARS and H1N1, H7N9 and other birth flus but people still seem complacent…except for the Japanese. In Japan, if you have a cough or cold, virus or flu, you wear a mask. It's another easy solution but I guess if you just don't care about other people, it won't matter how easy the solution might be, and that seems to be the way of the world today.
This is a wonderfully charming novel set in Melbourne (Australia) featuring Mace Evans who chooses a solitary life and resents the many well-intentioned interferences of her friends and the over-bearing judgment of her mother and sister, Shannon.
There are however some serious themes in the book as Mace deals with her marriage break-down and losing the love of her life, her mother's brush with breast cancer, and the many trials that affect her family and friends. If you've read Cunningham's previous novel, RAIN, you'll see a continuing theme of death, loss and grief. In this book though, it takes on a secondary role to the hilarious misadventures of Mace Evans and her entourage.
Even better than coughing or sneezing into your hand - kids are now taught to use the crook of their elbow. Stops the spread of germs when we touch things like railings and door knobs.
So often these days I'm finding myself wishing I lived during my grandparents day - people had manners then, and respect. Society is going down the toilet.
Wow - with those expulsion rates there's not a lot of point moving seats on the train like I had to do yesterday morning!
I'd like to be able to show compassion towards people with colds/flus but I must say I find it hard to do so when they're doing everything they can to make me, and others, sick as well, and succeeding.
Actually, Giles, that was going to be my blog topic this month (my Seinfeld 'obsession') until I came home from Japan with bronchitis thanks to two coughing travellers on our bus.
Yet another Seinfeld reference! You can't help yourself can you?!
I want to rush out and buy a box of face masks, not because I have a cold but because I don't want to get someone else's! We need this practice to become SOP any season!
Oh that is such a gross statistic ie. that there is that much saliva swirling around in close proximity to my nose after just one cough or sneeze! Imagine if there is a series, or more than one person!
It surprises me also that people don't put their hand over their mouth. I taught my children this as soon as they could understand so it really does annoy me when I see other kids at preschool coughing all over them.
It's a little ironic don't you think that people would treat you strangely for wearing a face mask when you're doing it to protect them!
‘I’m sick and I couldn’t care less if you end up sick as well.’ Well said, Leigh - that's exactly how I feel when I see someone sneezing and coughing their germs into my air space!
I had a flu a few years back (here in Singapore) and had to wear a face mask if I was going to be out in public and I had no problem doing that no matter what people thought but face masks are quite 'normal' here.
I'm all for face masks. I would wear one every time I had a cold if people didn't treat you like a weirdo or MJ impersonator!
Coughing commuters - there should be a law against it! The Japanese are really on to something.
I have to say that this a HUGE peeve for me also!! I just wish I had the courage to tell people to put their hand over their mouth when they cough!
Seriously? 3000 droplets of saliva in a single cough - I didn't need to know that!
And this is why don't do buffets! It grossed me out when I saw someone cough all over the food. I grabbed my bag and ran out of there without eating! That was 6 years ago and I haven't eaten at a buffet since. I'd rather starve.
That's what prompted this blog post, Carol-Anne. We had two hands-free coughers on our tour bus in Japan and even though I tried to avoid their air space, it's almost impossible.
I actually saw this one day, Alice! I followed a guy (although I tried to avoid his path) into the fruit and vege section where he coughed over everything! Even though I wash everything firstly, I still couldn't bring myself to buy anything that wasn't in a packet.
I'm pretty sure this would be a gripe for most people, well at least people who know some manners.
I was sitting next to someone on the train last month who coughed the entire 40 minutes - not a hand or tissue in sight! I knew I'd end up sick and I did.
OMG, this is one of my major gripes as well! I'm sick of being sick because someone coughed over the cucumbers before I bought one.