At the moment, I’m sitting here waiting to come down with a bad cold. I know it’s inevitable, so any second now, I expect to be sneezing until my nose resembles Rudolph’s, and my throat feels as if I just gargled with thorns.
Why am I so convinced I’m going to get a cold? Well, after what happened two days ago, I am positive that not only I, but also half the population of Concord, soon will be sneezing and wheezing.
It all started when I went to Concord to do some shopping and was waiting in the checkout line in a really crowded store. The clerk at the register looked…well, as if she should be picking out her headstone. Her nose was neon red, her eyes were watery, and her cough was so deep, it sounded like a lion’s roar. At one point (and I am totally serious here) she coughed so hard, she had to turn away from the customer and adjust her dentures.
If I hadn’t already been waiting in line for so long, I honestly would have switched to another register. But glutton for punishment that I was, I stayed in “Typhoid Mary’s” line, even after I heard her telling a customer ahead of me that she was just getting over a cold.
If her current condition was what she called, “getting over” a cold, then I figured she previously must have been in intensive care.
Ten minutes later, she finally rang up my items…and that’s when she did the unthinkable. When she tried to separate the plastic bags to get one for my items, she LICKED her fingers!
But she didn’t stop there. Usually I use my debit card when I go shopping, but on this particular day, I had enough cash with me, so I paid in cash. Big mistake. When the clerk counted back my change, she once again licked her fingers to separate the bills. I never thought the day would come when I’d ever refuse money, but believe me, I was ready to tell her to keep every penny.
She handed my change to me – a $5 bill and two $1 bills - and I hesitated, staring wide-eyed at the money. I was pretty sure my expression couldn’t have looked more repulsed if I’d just found out she’d used the money for toilet paper. Reluctantly, I finally took the cash, using only my thumb and forefinger.
All the way home in the car, I kept glancing at the two plastic bags lying on the seat next to me. I pictured thousands of fuzzy, fang-toothed cold germs dancing all over them and chanting, “We are breeding like wildfire! You can’t escape us!”
I swore I even could hear evil cackling.
By the time I got home, I was so paranoid, I didn’t want to touch those bags, not even with a pair of five-foot tongs. So I left them out in the car.
A short while later, I, armed with a can of Lysol, returned to the car and sprayed every inch of the outsides of the bags. Then, smiling with satisfaction, I carried them into the house and put away their contents.
Later that night, one of my friends called and I told her about the Typhoid Mary incident.
She was silent for a moment, then said, “Well, if the clerk licked her fingers to separate the bags, and then she put your items into the bags, everything she touched had just as many germs on it as the bags did, right?”
My face paled and my heart began to race. She was right! The clerk had used her germ-infested, spitty fingers to bag my items. And I had handled every single item in those bags! My mind reeled. What had I done after touching them? Had I rubbed my eyes? Scratched my nose? Sucked my thumb?
“I have to hang up!” I breathlessly told my friend. “I’m going to go wipe down everything I bought today, and then I’m going to go take a really hot shower and use anti-bacterial soap from head to toe, to kill the germs!”
She laughed. “It’s way too late for that! Believe me, the cold germs have already built a village in your nose hairs and are mapping a direct route up to your sinuses as we speak. Face it, you’re doomed.”
Her unsympathetic words did little to console me. I made a mental note to “unfriend” her.
So here I am…sitting and waiting for the inevitable cold symptoms to appear. I’m not sure if the heat is up too high or if I’m beginning to get a fever, but I suddenly feel a little flushed. And my chest is also starting to feel funny – kind of congested and constricted.
Either that, or my bra is too tight.
Just to be safe, I think I’d better stock up on tissues.
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