Sickies Stay Home!

Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.
- Susan Sontag

Achoo! There is a wonderful commercial running on television right now that opens with a woman on a plane. A man sneezes his way down the aisle, and then proceeds to sit down right next to her. Have you seen it? The reason this commercial hits home with so many people is because we all have unwanted experiences where a sick person has shared their germs with us. It is winter here in New England. It is also cold and flu season. As etiquette deals with behaviors and interactions, etiquette does have something to say about contagious individuals traveling among us.

The Seven Sickie Guidelines:

  1. The number one rule is: If you are sick, please stay home. HOWEVER, if you do decide to venture about:
  2. Please bring your own supplies. This includes an amply supply of tissues as well as somewhere to deposit the ones you have used.
  3. Keep your germs to yourself. When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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 flu's.
For those of you who do not already have a favorite chicken soup recipe, here is my family's preferred one. Now, I am far from a gourmet cook. But if I can make chicken soup, so can you.

Grandma's Chicken Soup Recipe

You will need:
  1. A chicken cut in eighths (also called a soup chicken in some butcher shops)
  2. 3 carrots
  3. 1 parsnip
  4. 1 large purple onion
  5. A big pot
  1. Peel the carrots and parsnip. Cut each in half and set aside.
  2. Cut ends off the onion. Peel off a few layers until the skin is no longer papery and set aside.
  3. If the skin is still on the chicken, use dry paper towels and remove skin.
  4. Rinse chicken in cold water and place in pot.
  5. Add cold water to the pot until the chicken is submerged.
  6. Add the carrots, parsnip and onion.
  7. Cover pot, put on stove and turn on burner close to high.
  8. Once the water has come to a full boil, turn down burner so that the soup is simmering.
  9. Simmer soup for 2 ½ hours.
When soup is done:
  1. Remove and discard onion.
  2. Put carrots and parsnip in a bowl (these can be eaten now, or saved to put back into the soup).
  3. Place chicken in a separate bowl.
  4. Strain soup 2 or 3 times into a bowl, once soup has cooled, cover and place in refrigerator.
  5. While chicken is still warm, remove meat from bone (meat can be eaten now or saved to put back into the soup).
  6. The carrots, parsnip and chicken should be stored in the refrigerator until use.
Leave soup in refrigerator overnight so that you can skim the fat easily. Add back in the carrots, parsnip and chicken. Heat and eat. Enjoy!

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ At work, my boss takes great pleasure in boasting the fact that he has never taken a sick day. The reason he never takes a sick day is because when he is sick he drags himself into the office, shuts the door and naps on his couch. He usually succeeds in starting an epidemic in the department, but the rest of us do not have the luxury of hiding in our offices. What can I do?

A: Unfortunately, there is not much you can do. Since this man is your boss, you can try to speak to the human resources person in your office, but do not expect much response. Few offices have “sickie police” to make people go home. My advice for you is to stay clear of him as soon as you notice a sniffle, and perhaps even look to transfer to another department!

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ If I do not feel well, is it better for me to cancel an important business meeting or to go and hope I make it through?

A: Clearly the answer to this question depends on several factors, and only you will know the right answer. In general, most people would rather reschedule than meet with someone who is feeling under the weather.

Q: Dear Mannersmith ~ I have very bad allergies. The sniffling often makes people think I have a bad cold. Is it proper for me to tell them my runny nose is allergies and not something contagious?

A: If someone comments on your nose or looks as if they are backing away, you may want to make a light-hearted comment so that they know you are an allergy suffer. But be sure you do not go into a long medical history. (Ex: Wow, those centerpieces are just beautiful. The colors of the flowers really brighten this room. I just wish I was not so allergic. Now, about the Jones account…