Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tales from the Rails - The contagion

Commuting via public transit comes with one giant danger. The winter contagion. I have personally fell victim to this monster twice in the three years that I've been commuting.

When normal people get sick, they tend to stay home and infect only their closest loved ones. When a New York City commuter gets sick, they get on the train and cough all over everything. Apparently people have really important jobs and can't take a sick day. The morning and afternoon train rides in the winter tend to be a symphony of coughs, sneezes and people blowing their noses. I'm fairly certain that these people direct their germs directly onto hand holds, where they can best pass along their germs and infect others.

Last year I fell victim to a serious train contagion. Someone with bacterial bronchitis decided to share their germs with me (and most likely the rest of the train) and I spent the months of November, December and January feeling terrible. I missed almost two fulls weeks of work and spent a fortune on OTC medicine, tissues and finally a good course of prescription antibiotics and cough suppressants.

After three years of commuting, I've come up with a series of tips for anyone else riding the rails or enjoying the bus. Major takeaway - Don't Touch Anything!

Top Ten Ways
To Avoid Illness while Riding NYC Public Transit

1. Purchase a Hazmat suit.  Paint it to look like it isn't a Hazmat suit, as the NYC police might find you a little suspicious wearing a Hazmat suit on the subway.  Paint your Hazmat suit to look like a nice Italian three piece, wear at all times when riding transit.

2. Avoid licking the hand rails.  Seriously people, those are dirty.  Do you know how many thousands of people ride the subway everyday?

3. Listen before you sit down.  Hear any hacking coughs, snuffly noses or loud sneezers?  Don't sit next to those people, they want to share their virus with you.

4. Don't ride NYC public transit.  Walking is good for you, especially if you have to go fifty blocks and it's below freezing.  Think of how many calories you're burning!

5. Invest in face masks.  If anyone looks at you strange, just start speaking Japanese.  They'll realize you are from Japan, where face masks are totally normal.

6. Don't touch anything!  Don't even lean against the wall.  Just stand in the middle of the train car and maintain perfect balance until your stop. It's good for your abs. Though this is especially easy when you are riding with a friend.  Let them hold the bar, you just grab tight!  

7. Keep your gloves on.  Make sure they are those big fuzzy ones.  You'll be less likely to itch your eyeball while wearing big fuzzy gloves.  Think muppet-like.

8. Get a train car all to yourself.  I've seen this technique done only once.  I'm going to warn you, it involves not showering for a long, long time.  Maybe this should be a "last resort" kind of suggestion.

9. Bring your own air supply.  This will most likely take the form of a scuba diving system.  Wearing a wet suit is just optional, a fabulous option!

10.  Get a flu shot.  Don't tell anyone you got a flu shot as they will inevitably try to punch you in the arm.

With winter coming to a close, I'm happy to report that I haven't caught any of the train contagions. Here's hoping I can make it through the season without spending all of my money on Mucinex and tissues.

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