For those of you traveling home from a remote tropical island (as well as those who live under a rock), you may be surprised to hear there is yet another flu epidemic sweeping the country. My beloved Boston is currently a hot spot. With emergency rooms setting up tents to accommodate the ill, cities declaring health emergencies and mobile clinics for flu shots popping up around every corner, clearly not getting sick is the ideal. But as etiquette deals with behaviors and interactions, etiquette also has something to say about contagious individuals traveling among us.
The Seven Sickie Guidelines:
1. If you are sick, please stay home. This includes, but is not limited to, those serious and highly-contagious aliments such as the flu, a fever or a stomach bug.
2. Put your ego aside. While we would all like to think the world would stop if we were unable to be in the office for one day, this is just not the case. If you are really sick, really stay home. You do not want to be known as the Typhoid Mary of the office.
However, if you have a milder illness, such as a cold, and you do decide to venture about:
3. Please bring your own supplies. This includes an ample supply of tissues as well as somewhere to deposit the ones you have used.
4. Keep your germs to yourself. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief.
5. Keep your hands to yourself. If you are sick, excuse yourself from the customary handshake, as hand-to-hand contact is the most common way to spread germs.
And to stay healthy:
6. An ounce of prevention. Millions of dollars of medical research has finally confirmed that your mother was right all along. To stay healthy, sleep well, eat well, drink lots of water and wash your hands regularly.
7. Your grandmother was right, too. Chicken soup really does speed the recovery from colds and flus.
Watch how to be a polite sick person, a recently-broadcast segment on New England Cable News.