“Oh… do you mind if I don’t shake your hand?” Mrs. E.’s opthomologist peered into her oozing eyes. Conjunctivitis. Probably viral. “Pink eye.”
The doctor went on to explain that we don’t have much of an illness etiquette here in the United States, and, if the definition of etiquette includes considering others’ before oneself, we’re much the poorer — especially health-wise — for it.
I don’t advocate a return to the masks worn by the Plague Doctors during the Black Death (seen above), but we should adopt a certain decorum if we are ill and determined to move about society.
(Photo: SATOKO KAWSAKI PHOTO for Japan Times)
Yes, this does look a bit goofy and for a country full of men afraid to wear a proper hat, it probably won’t catch on. These are actually allergy masks being sported during pollen season in Japan, but I bet they wear them during avian flu scares too.
So, get your flu shots, wash your hands a lot, cough into your elbow and try not to shake hands. I may even adopt the Victorian practice and execute a slight bow or tilt of the head upon meeting, with the explanation that I wouldn’t want to pass along my illness. You don’t have to wear a hat to do so. (By the way, it was once the case that a man wouldn’t shake a lady’s hand unless she offered it to him first.)
(Image source: Angelpig)
Or better yet, take advantage of technology and stay at home whilst telecommuting, if at all possible. That would be the easiest, and most elegant, solution.