I made a sad observation at the Golden Hours Center the other day while listening to a POW from the Vietnam War speak.
While waiting for the speaker to start, I talked with several of the people there, all older people of course. As usual, a lot of them liked the column and had to come say so.
One woman surprised me when she said “I would like to shake your hand but they tell us we can’t touch anyone or hug anyone,” and that was about the time I noted the large economy sized bottle of hand sanitizer on every table in the place.
I know everyone is worried about H1N1 flue virus, and it can be serious, although the rates of people dying still haven’t risen to anywhere near the numbers of people who die every year from the regular flu (35,000) or traffic accidents (40,000 or so).
On the other hand, anything that keeps old people from hugging someone is just tragic. That’s what they do, and it is a sad thing to lose.
It makes me wonder if there isn’t more than a bit of media-driven hysteria going around. People always get sick from something, and the things we’re being warned about now with this H1N1 are really things we should have been doing all along with regular flu, or the common cold: Washing our hands regularly, staying home when we’re sick, learning not to cough on anyone.
Of course, some times all efforts to keep safe are for nought: An editor here whose wife works at a grocery store said a woman came through with a coughing child in the grocery cart. The woman said the kid had to stay home from school because he had H1N1 (how did she know? I think a lot of people assume) but then why was she trundling the kid all around a grocery store?
My friend’s wife had to be polite, but very discreetly told the bagboy to go sanitize that cart before letting anyone else push it around.