Who fetched you up?

I’m back from 3 days of hard, but satisfying work in St. Petersburg. The house remodel is basically done and it’s beyond all my hopes and expectations. This is the once in a lifetime project that’s as close as I’ll ever get (or want to get) to designing my own home and my builder was the absolute best, working cooperatively with me over distance. In the end, my first call in the morning would be, "Morning, dear. The kitchen hardware came but we’re shy one pull" or "There’s a package here from eBay that is rattling ominously- I’ll wait until you get here to open that one." Anyway, it’s pretty much done and the rest will have to wait until we head down after Christmas. By then, I’ll have plenty to show you on that front.
Today I want to complain. First, what the heck is the matter with people with colds and respiratory infections? I mean, I know ’tis the season, but c’mon people! Weren’t you taught to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze? Yesterday, I was at the airport and it sounded more like a TB ward. Of course, they were all on my flight.  It’s as though the ticket agent announced: "We are now boarding flight 666 for St. Anthony’s Sanatorium, continuing on to Forest Lawn Cemetery. We’d like to invite our Platinum members and those with death rales first. Please remember to place all kleenex, handkerchiefs and cough drops in the overhead bin so you have absolutely no access to them during the  flight."

Once we were onboard and buckled, the pilot announced, "We’ll have a flying time today of 2 hours and 20 minutes but first we’re going to roll this petri dish down the runway and get in line for takeoff and that could take about 25 minutes." In those twenty-five minutes the woman seated next to me sneezed  like a baby. By that I mean, when Abby was an infant she’d get one of those newborn tickles in her nose and sneeze so many times in a row that we would laugh and start to count them. I think she made it up to eight or nine once. This woman got to 14 and hers weren’t those cute baby sneezes- these were wet, mucousy, snot spray sneezes. Did she cover her mouth? No. Not once. She held on to both armrests with those germ infested paws of hers and just let ’em rip.

Shortly after the man behind me started coughing so explosively my seat was bouncing forward. WITHOUT COVERING HIS MOUTH. And before we were airborne every second seat had someone snorting, sneezing, choking, coughing and wiping runny noses on their hands. And the amazing thing was they all seemed completely oblivious to germ theory- you know, the one where you spread disease by wiping the contents of your infected mucous membranes all over the place? Where you infect others by spraying wet droplets at high velocity on the nearest bystander?

By the time the wheels touched down I was twitching like that character Monk trapped in an elevator. I imagined myself standing up and screaming, "Stop that!  Stop spraying that shit around this plane! For God’s sake, cover your mouth!  Stop wiping your nose on the airplane blanket! Who fetched you up, anyway? If you could please, please, just sit quietly and stop breathing until we reach the gate!" Instead, I just twitched and muttered to myself about getting sick for Christmas, I just know it, I can feel their airborne droplets working their way into my lungs…

As an alternative, I tried to stop breathing, but naturally we had to wait to get into our gate and after you don’t breathe for a minute or so you have to take a bigger breath just to compensate. As we were deplaning I heard one other passenger exclaim "let me off this cesspool of germs, please!"

The taxi driver was coughing the whole distance between O’Hare and our place. I walked in the door, relieved to be home and Rich came racing down the stairs to embrace me- and sniffle in my ear, "I’b so sick! I hab a terrible cold!"

I’m doomed.
Here’s the other thing: Since when did mail delivery in a major U.S. city become optional? When did postal employees get to decide whether today was a good day to grace your mail slot with your bills, cards, letters and bank statements?

I don’t understand this. In Michigan, mail came every day. I mean, there might be the occasional day when no one sent you anything but in recent years there were ALWAYS at least some catalogs and several pre-approved credit cards that I sort of wished he/she wouldn’t deliver. But six days a week, the USPS showed up with mail. When I was a child, people sent so many Christmas cards that sometimes the mailman brought mail twice a day. That was exciting.

Here in Chicago, days go past- no mail. Nothing. Nadda. And then, on say, maybe Wednesday there’s so much mail he can’t get it through the large mail slot and he flings it around the walkway where I pick it up from snow, puddles, against the garden gate. For a  time I thought maybe it was our mailman. I though maybe he’s emotionally disturbed and his job and sanity were hanging by a thread and I need to be nice to him. So I started watching for him and every third day or so, when I saw him coming down the walk I’d jump to the door, open it with a big smile plastered on my face and say, "Hey! Thanks! How’s it going?" And normal as pie, he would say, "Good, thanks. Have a nice day." And hand me 4 days worth of mail.
Sometimes, people tell me they have sent me something and then weeks go by. Weeks, not days. We get mail that was postmarked 17 days ago. This is true.

Finally, I called the main post office. This is not easy because in Chicago they don’t publish the telephone numbers of the post office, for obvious reason. It’s like trying to look up the main information number for the CIA. As a last resort, I called my alderman and got a number of an assistant to an assistant postmaster. In this case, it was a postmistress and I gave her my address, twice, and she listened to me complain that we weren’t getting important mail- things like house titles and insurance binders. She said uh-huh, uh-huh,uh-huh and that she would look into it. I knew that was going to be effective when the call ended with her asking, "Whaddya say your address was?"

I asked around as I got to know people and everyone just laughs. Apparently, mail delivery in Chicago IS optional. We still don’t get mail except as people win at the roulette table. It’s as random as the weather. You know- like rain or snow or sleet. So here’s something else optional this year: That nice little goodie basket of cookies, fine chocolates and maple syrup I always put out for my mail person on December 24. The alley rats would haul it off days before he ever finds it.
Okay. I am done complaining. I’m going to boost my immune system with echinacea, orange juice and a fair amount of red wine over the next 48 hours. And finish getting my cards and packages out in the, ahem, mail.

Tomorrow, I’ll be up for Friday’s Ark- with murder and mayhem in the night time as well as a bug challenge for all my southern neighbors.

10 responses to “Who fetched you up?

  1. Your airplane germ story reminds me why I don’t fly. Not only do your fellow passengers explode their germ-laden breath into the air, that air is recirculated for maximum exposure. Yum. It’s a germ cocktail. If I ever had to fly again, and let’s all hope that that never happens, I would wear one of those surgical masks for the entire flight. I’m not kidding. I’ve worn them in doctor office waiting rooms. You’ve got to take some precaution. There are very sick people out there sneezing with mindless, wild abandon.

  2. Remember that platitude: what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger? Some kind of viral hormesis, that is your only hope.

  3. Frankly, I think they should add “how to cover your mouth” to the in-flight emergency directions. Squeeze it in RIGHT after they tell you where the lavatories are so there is a hope of people hearing it. Because, let’s face it, you’re more likely to DIE of what people are hacking up than in an air accident.

    But, I also think they should offer little masks to people with the coffee service, “What kind of beverage would you like sir? And would you like a germ protector with that?”

  4. The mail story is killing me! I can’t imagine going to the mailbox and finding it empty day after day.
    I. Must. Have. My. Junk. Mail.

  5. I expect wet sneezes from my 6-year-old students, not from adults. I’m kind of surprised you didn’t just come right out and say something.

  6. I’ll be back later to do this justice but just a note. Invest in some surgical masks, tie ons or with the rubber doohicky to hold them on. My brother wears one on the plane ALL THE TIME. His voice is his pay check and it only took one long flight with him getting sick and not being able to sing for him to do this. He also carries Purell even though he has had to go to a much smaller bottle. He says he feels no shame at getting a napkin and purelling the seat handles and trays, in front of the person who is depositing the germs. Of course this is also the guy who jumped up on the hood of a shiny new sports car and stomped across making dents. (The hood and car had narrowly hit an old lady and was in the crosswalk in downtown Chicago) The other pedestrians applauded.

  7. Postman, postman, do your duty!
    Here comes Vicki, the American beauty.
    She can do the can-can. She can do the splits.
    But, most of all, she can kiss, kiss, kiss!

  8. That would have the same effect on me because I am the granddaughter of a dentist, and hence a very fastidious mother. She washes her hands about 100 times a day. I laughed about the mail delivery; I complain about ours but it is usually 1-2 days. We’re still small town.

  9. Oh, my, I’m going to tell my kids to be sure that the baby wears a mask on the airplane. I wouldn’t want them to compromise her health just because they’re coming to see me…SRP has a good idea about the arm reats, etc, and the door knobs. Thanks, SRP.

    I’m so glad you had a good contractor working with you. I can hardly wait to see pictures of your house. Referring to the post above, I’m so glad that was an ornament, and not a real bird, and no, I don’t know what that insect is, although I believe I’ve seen them before.

    I was driving home yesterday and saw an egret in a yard with a snake in his beak. Did I have my camera handy? No. I hurried and home to get it and went back, but he had flown. Darn.

  10. Will Happy Holidays from a long lost friend help?

    The kids bring home every new bug. I send boxes of tissues to the teacher because it seems no one in their classes has heard of them and the teacher shouldn’t have to foot the entire tissue bill.

    I’ll forgive the first public sneeze or cough. Sometimes they just sneak up. After that, it’s bad manners.

    Poor you.

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