by Ashley Ngu:
ACHOO! sniffly sniffle. Oh no! The person sitting next to me in class is sick. Engage Operation Germaphobe, i.e. discreetly scoot my desk and hold my breath as much as possible.
Everyone has normal concerns of germs and contamination. I’m sure that no one likes to get coughed on, or have someone breathe on their food. However, mysophobia occurs when those ordinary concerns are escalated to an extreme level. For instance, a mysophobe is likely to throw out his entire meal if someone sneezes in the general vicinity. To clarify, I’m not clinically mysophobic; I’m more like a lightweight germaphobe.
My parents have always been extremely clean, a trait I inherited. My mom made me wash my hands whenever I petted a dog, touched things outside or just generally looked dirty.
I would still get sick sometimes, but in middle school, it was no big deal. My parents would let me sleep in and maybe even make me some soup. When I went back to school, I might have had an assignment or two to catch up on. Then high school began, and the tables turned. Miss a day of school now, and I’ve got to learn about monopolies and pure competition curves on my own, catch up on 60 pages of Pride and Prejudice and explain to my calculus teacher that I wasn’t trying to avoid the test, I really was sick.
Aside from the academic implications, getting sick sucks. With sore throats, headaches, achy limbs, runny noses, cough drop breath, clogged sinuses, nob bean able to dalk probberly, it’s not fun to be ill.
So I came up with a set of illness-evading maneuvers that I use 24/7, especially during flu season, AP testing and finals weeks. Does it work? Maybe, maybe not. But I haven’t gotten sick in quite a long time. Knock on wood.
My maneuvers are simple. Keep, at the very minimum, a five-foot radius from sick people and all things that they touch (including air). Even if the sick person is your best friend or significant other, apologize profusely from afar and continue to maintain your distance. If someone coughs or sneezes, casually evacuate the area. On the unfortunate chance that the sneeze or cough was accidentally directed at you, adopt Neo’s talents from “The Matrix” and dodge. If all else fails, hold your breath for as long as you can.
Time your entrances and exits through doors to coincide with other people coming or going. It’s like being a ninja. Door handles, elevator buttons, handrails and anything else regularly touched by people quickly collect an incredible amount of bacteria. The fewer things you touch, the fewer germs you will come in contact with.
Also, try to sleep for more than eight hours a day. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system takes a hit. A study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that those who sleep an average of fewer than seven hours a night are three times as likely to get sick with the cold virus as those who average eight or above.
And finally, know that the five second rule does not apply. Neither does the one second rule, nor the 0.05 second rule. Illness-causing bacteria like salmonella and E. coli is often found on floors, and they do not wait around for five seconds to attach themselves to food. By eating that piece of candy that “barely” touched the floor, you might be ingesting bacterial goodies too.
Perhaps I’m being over-dramatic or paranoid, but it can’t hurt to employ some of the above methods. And with finals almost upon us, let’s not take any chances.