It’s that time of year where more and more people start coughing and sneezing in the office.
Germs are rife. The environment is contagious.
At home my kids are snotting all over themselves and we are finding lots of crusty tissues and slime infested sleeves at the end of the day.
They are all at primary school so that’s ok.
I don’t expect this at work or on the train, but god help me there are some inconsiderate gits out there.
I’ve observed the following events this last week.
A woman coughed into her hand then straight away grabbed the hand rail on the train. Nice.
A man walking out of Liverpool st station and sneezed. He didn’t have anything in his hands but he didn’t try to cover his face, he actually seemed to lift his head and direct the sneeze at passers by. Classy.
A developer working on a pairing station picked his nose and wiped it on the chair. Not his chair, but one of the chairs shared in the common team area. Outlandish.
Another developer solved the problem of where to put his freshly picked booger by consuming the evidence. Wow.
I happened to notice someone sniffing on the train. Sniff. For 30 minutes. Sniff. Right in my ear. Sniff. Not their fault of course but surely someone had a tissue to offer them? Or more to the point if you have a cold why not bring some bloody tissues with you?
My personal favorite happened when another analyst ‘snarted’. This is where you sneeze and temporarily loose control of your sphincter causing you to fart at the same time. Brilliant. The best bit was that I think she was completely unaware of it (the second part that is). The worst bit was that I can now confirm that ‘lady puffs’ do not in fact always smell of roses.
When we get sick, we feel sorry for ourselves and can become particularly self absorbed.
It can be very frustrating when it stops us doing what we love, like CrossFit or getting out for a run with colleagues at lunch time.
But it also serves an important purpose.
It reminds us that we are not infallible as it forces us to slow down and get more rest.
It also presents an opportunity. Not for us that are suffering, but rather for those that are not, it’s an opportunity to show their compassionate and caring side.
And someone will spot the opportunity, act on it, and it will feel nice.
Maybe it will be the person you least expect that offers you a tissue, a Lemsip, says ‘bless you’ when you sneeze all over your monitor, or simply asks how you are feeling.
As human beings it’s a primal instinct to provide safety and care for those in need.
It’s a shame we tend to receive this only when we are sick. Or is it just that we notice it when our defences are weakened and that actually people are quite nice (at least some of the time)?
Either way – What would it look like if there was a giving and receiving of this caring and considerate behaviour in the office everyday?
If people asked each other how they felt, and looked out for each other rather than ignoring each other and burying their heads in emails.
I think it would be rather nice.
So if like me over the last week you could have filled several buckets with snot, phlegm and tissues then I wish you better soon, make sure you listen to your body and get enough rest. Don’t you dare feel bad about taking time out to recover.
If like my colleagues you have to put up with a constant background noise of coughing, sneezing and snorting, use the opportunity this presents. You may just make someone’s day.
Now – someone help off this chair would you – I seem to be stuck to something…