Friday, October 13, 2006

Attack of the Viruses

Working in schools puts you on the front lines of the circulating viruses every time. Just like The Dad over at Looky Daddy so aptly described, kids spend all day coughing and wiping snot on each other so it isn't hard to come into contact with something eventually! Only as a special ed paraprofessional, you often get coughed on or wiped with a snotty hand yourself. Typical kids are not usually so good about keeping germs to themselves, but special ed kids are often even less so.

I have been lucky to escape many of the real nasty bugs because after the years of picking up chicken pox, sinus infections, and other things I'd like to think that I've built up some sort of school-exclusive immunity. Plus I've learned some great avoidance tactics.
For's recess and Suzy sneezes into her hands. Then she wants to hold mine. Quick! It's the distraction method.
"Oh! You look like you have a yummy snack today! What is it?" Suzy will inevitably pick up the snack to show you and forget about hand holding. Or you just keep them in your pockets, tell the kids they are cold, and they will hang onto your jacket instead.

Grossed out yet? Some days I wonder if I have obsessive compulsive disorder with the amount of handwashing that goes on, when the kids are especially sneezy. I thought I was doing pretty good at keeping the bugs at bay until a little while ago.

I was in the line at the grocery store, chatting with the cashier as she rings in my groceries. Behind me is another customer, sounding like he's about to hack up his lung. He is coughing, wheezing, sniffling, and sneezing loudly as I, warily eyeing him, slowly edge away. I already have issues with people in lines being in my personal space. There's nothing worse to me then having a person behind me that a) is so close that I can smell their breath or b) has their cart so close to me it's smacking my shins. Lung guy keeps getting closer with every sneeze. The cashier continues to chat and, momentarily distracted, I let him out of my sight. Big mistake.

"I really hope it doesn't rain this weekend..." the cashier chatters as she bags my groceries. Suddenly, my cart moves. No, it hasn't suddenly sprung to life, but lung hacking guy has now edged right up behind me, put both germy, snotty, hands on my cart, and pushes it to the end of the cash register so he can squeeze by. As he does, he coughs and hacks all over me, the cart, and everything in it.

I stared at my now germ coated cart in dismay as it sat there forlorly. What should I do? Leave it? Spray the groceries with disinfectant? Dare I even touch the handle?
Finally I did something I've never done before. Pulling my sleeves over my hands, I pushed the cart out to the car, unloaded it, and then went back into the store to wash my hands. Obviously that didn't help because now it's the weekend, which is when viruses wait to pounce on me, and I'm sick. Viruses never pounce on work days. They dance on the edges, making you feel just slightly sick but not enough to stay home. They wait until you have the kids at home all weekend and a million things to do, and then they hit. It's like they plot it or something. Those things have brains, I tell you.
So help me God, if that man has kids, I'm going to cough on them. Call it karma.

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