This morning I was sitting in a Starbucks thinking about the fact that, for all of my Up With People disposition, I am a bit of a misanthrope when it comes to sharing space with other humans.
I'm thinking it is perhaps a function of my germophobia, a condition picked up back when I was getting a particular treatment that caused my neutrophil count (your body's defense against infection) to drop into the double-digits, from a normal count in the thousands. During that time I started becoming very aware of potentially germy behavior and environments because my life literally depended on me doing so. I basically lived in sheer terror of dying from being sneezed on by some shmo at the store. Needless to say, I became a bit of a recluse.
Unfortunately, even though the critical period passed, my highly vigilant germ-o-meter never went back to its previous calibration. Even at my favorite and beloved coffee shop on Capitol Hill, when they say, "is that for here or to go?" I say, "For here, but put it in paper please" because they have one of those rinky-dink mom-and-pop store dishwashers, to which I am NOT entrusting the few neutrophils I've got. Ixnay on the ishwasherday. So as you can tell, I now filter just about every human interaction through the lens of "will that person make me sick?" We all saw the scene in "Outbreak" where the camera zooms in on the droplets from a sneeze in a movie theater and follows them into other people's noses, the air system, etc, and eventually to Kevin Spacey in a "moon suit" in a quarantined neighborhood. If you've read The Hot Zone, you know that scene is closer to reality than any of us wants to consider.
So. Back to Starbucks (which was an emergency, just grabbing something on my way to work stop; not an endorsement of their beverages), where I watched the following occur in the space of about 5 minutes:
1) The dude behind me is doing that "snot sniff swallow" thing. You know what I mean? It's that sniff noise like he's creating The Mother of All Louies, followed by a big swallow noise as he does NOT expel the louie. Bleeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! Blow your freakin' nose, dude! Just blow it! Then wash your hands. Eeeeewwww. It is so nasty, and you know exactly the sniff/swallow noise I am talking about because you have heard someone do it too. It's wrong. Bad for Me. Bad for America.
2) The dude across the way eating his maple nut scone, licking his fingers like he's at KFC. But wait. There's more. He then got up and went to the condiment table where he picked up the sugar dispenser and the half-and-half carafe. Niiiice. I'm all for sharing saliva with cute guys at the Starbucks. But could it NOT be via the milk carafe? If I'm going to get your cooties, I'd prefer to score some actual action in the process. Only, I'm not a fan of maple-nut breath, sadly...
Had I remained at Starschmucks longer I would no doubt have witnessed additional crimes against the sanitary. But luckily I had to get to the office. You remember my office. The one with the "pristine" bathrooms? Lucky me.