Colds, influenza and other contagious medical maladies are common during the winter season. Also common at the same time is for the media and medical personnel to provide an abundance of advice on what to do to prevent illness or on what a person should do when already infected with a virus. Staying home when you are sick in order to prevent spread of disease is one of the largest recommendations. Yet, many people don’t heed the advice.
I am never really shocked to visit a public store and encounter another shopper who is displaying obvious signs of illness such as sneezing, coughing, and the like. I figure these people may just be in need of remedies or other necessities and so must visit a store to get them. However, there are other times when I am thinking what is wrong with people to be out and sharing the nastiest of their symptoms, especially, like now, when I know the flu is widespread.
While shopping in a local store this week, I could hear the sounds of a person hacking a most horrible sounding cough, the kind where the rate of cough is very high and frequent. The sound was coming from a distant area of the store so I thought if I hurry and get what I need I may be safe from whatever germs this person was sharing. Not so.
It didn’t take long for this person, a store employee, to approach me and ask if I was finding everything I needed. Yikes! I quickly let her know I was fine and then held my breath while getting as far away from her and her coughs as possible. I rushed to grab what I needed and was relieved to see this person was not working the check-out counter. Not so fortunate again.
While waiting my turn, the very sick employee came to the front of the store to open another register. I stood in horror and watched her cough and cough while preparing her register. I knew right then and there that I was not going to let her check my items out. Why tempt fate when I don’t have to. However, I felt sorry for the person in line in front of me who, out of courtesy, stepped over to the sickly cashier’s check-out area when she indicated she was open.
If it had come to the point where the sick cashier would have signaled for me to come to her area I would have politely declined and told her why. As it happened, I shared my displeasure with the cashier who checked my items. I was told the sick employee was the manager and that she had been coming to work sick all week. I replied that I thought she should stay home and not be spreading germs to customers.
As I left the store I was thinking how irresponsible this person was being. Sure, it’s great to be a manager who makes it a point to come to work when scheduled, but, in my opinion, this lack of caring for the public didn’t equate to my idea of what a good manager would do. It truly was a disgusting experience to visibly see and hear how sick this employee was and to know how contaminated that store environment was because of her actions.
When you are truly sick, do the public a favor and refrain from entering places where a large amount of people may be. Likewise, if you work in a place where your contact with the public is high, stay home when you are ill. Remove your presence from gatherings of people such as sporting events, popular eateries, and grocery stores or pharmacies. The advice is also true for those who have been fairly sick and when beginning to feel a little bit better think that they aren’t sick anymore. This is not necessarily true, just the same as it is not true that you must have a fever in order to spread germs. If your symptoms are still quite significant then you are likely still contagious.
I realize that sometimes it is necessary for sick people to go out and get medicines or other supplies because they have no one else to do it for them. In that case, be brief. Get what you need and then get back home. If you must attend work, ask to be placed in a role where public interaction is limited. Recommended in either case is to cover your nose and mouth with a mask in order to try and contain your germs.
Last but not least, parents, please keep sick children home from school. School environments where students are in close proximity to one another and socializing with one another is the ideal place for virus to spread out of control. Be responsible to the wellbeing of your own child and for the child’s classmates. The gesture will be much appreciated.