These two Asian girls come into my job every other day. They are clearly friends, studying abroad, giggling and talking together between broken English phrases as I assemble whatever they are planning to eat for dinner. I often wonder about them, especially since, two days into the new semester, we got an email about the coronavirus being suspected at Miami University, four hours away. Having just finished studying abroad, I couldn't imagine if something had happened in America that made the world in an uproar. My experience would have changed completely. Though I apparently have the accent of a Canadian, my New Orleans hoodie and unwillingness to eat anything that wasn't pizza, a sandwich, or chicken nuggets would have given me away easily. A fun semester of going to different parts of Europe and learning so much about England would have been squashed by blind idiocy.
I traveled to D.C. a couple of years ago and watched a kid hawk a bloody loogie onto the handrail of the train. His parents watched him too and did nothing. Didn't even try to wipe the grossness off the metal pole, just continued on with their day, ignoring that their child had just created the catalyst for infections. Though this was definitely one of the grossest things I've seen, grossness always lives in the world. People leaving the restroom without washing their hands or even wiping, babies putting random crap in their mouths, people not covering their mouths, the list goes on and on. Now, amidst cold and flu season, there is a panic because an illness that is just like the flu is spreading from China at rapid speeds.
Death tolls rising from one to three in Washington State, there are reasons to panic. People stock up on surgical masks, Lysol, and citrus, and of course, stay away from Asians. Yet, people still don't cover their mouths when they cough or wash their hands or wipe down often-used surfaces to prevent disease like the Lysol commercial has been saying since the 1980s. The virus is about as incurable as the common cold and the flu, yet the world is in a tizzy over it. There are all these videos and articles and statements from "officials" which less of a degree than I do about this virus. What to do if you catch it, how to stay safe, and the like, as if we don't already innately know what to do. People would literally look at a whole race differently when their friends are the ones spreading the diseases.
Returning to work from my jaunt through the idiocy of humans, I watch these two girls walk away (not in a creepy way, just in a peripheral sense) and see one stop. She sighs, then lets out an adorable, "Achoooo" into her elbow. Her friend, standing a foot or two away from her, waiting, squeals what I assume is "bless you" and they keep walking. This being the most wholesome thing I'd seen in the past hour, I wish them a fun semester despite the stupidity of everyone and keep cleaning off the counters, waiting for the next person to come up to the sneeze guard.