The creeping crud

"Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases - As ...

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You’re going about your normal day.  You get up, yawn, wash, brush your teeth, wonder what happened to your face overnight, get dressed, go into work…and all along, unbeknownst to you, it’s stalking you.  As you drive into work, hang up your coat, and turn on your lights, little by little it catches up.

As you go about your business at work, it’s slithering along behind you, sizing you up, waiting for the exact time to attack.  You’re copying a document and suddenly you hear your coworker start coughing.  But she doesn’t stop.  It just keeps getting louder and deeper and wetter, like that lung is finally on its way out.  Eventually she stops, sniffles, and gives a watery smile.  “I guess I’ve got what’s going around,” she says, as if it’s an adorable quirk and not a contagious disease she just spewed into the air.

Suddenly you realize:  you’ve been seeing and hearing it for a week.  People all around you sneezing, hacking, sweating, pale and tired.  You look around to see half the office grabbing for tissues.  You pour a cup of coffee and hear one person detailing to another the completely work-inappropriate disease-induced excretions she suffered a few days ago.  She smiles at you and says, “I hope you like the coffee.  I brewed it myself.”

At home that evening, you check your reflection closely.  Are you looking a little pale?  Is that a sheen of sweat?  You take your temperature:  it’s a little elevated.  ‘No,’ you think.  ‘This is not happening to me.’  But you wake up the next morning aching from your crown to your feet, temperature 101, wondering if last night’s dinner is about to make a repeat appearance:  beef stew, the sequel.  It’s only too true.  It’s caught up with you at last.

English: Public health poster from Spanish flu...

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In my family, we call it the creeping crud.  You can see the people around you getting sick, and no matter how many precautions you take, no matter how many times you use the Purell, no matter how much Vitamin C you take, it will catch you.  It takes its time, makes sure you can see it coming (hence the creeping), and it makes you feel like complete crap in ways that are extremely embarrassing to talk about (hence the crud).

Beware, my friends, for the crud may be creeping up on you even as we speak.  Was that a person sneezing you saw out of the corner of your eye?  Was that faint noise a hacking cough from down the hall?  There’s no use fighting it.  The creeping crud always wins.  Just do me a favor:  if you get it, stay home.  Spare the people around you.  Especially if you’re a waiter or handle food or drink in any capacity.  There’s nothing quite like getting halfway through a meal in a restaurant and then seeing your waiter blowing his nose as he goes through the kitchen doors.