Frank Mulligan: Count your blessings
If it could be considered trendy, then having a cold this winter would be the “in” thing.
That’s because everybody seems to be doing it.
I feel surrounded by people who have colds, just had a cold, or are in the process of coming down with a cold.
Even my cat has been sneezing, and that’s as pathetic a sight as Oliver Twist queuing up for a second bowl of gruel.
Despite spring’s official commencement on March 20, I’m still working on my second winter cold.
That’s unusual for me, but it seems like my sniffling, hacking co-workers are keeping pace.
Is there some reason for the high number of colds this winter?
Could changes in global weather patterns be playing a role?
Could factors related to the weakened economy be involved?
Could Dick Cheney’s statements to the press have some connection?
It’s difficult to isolate one factor. That task should fall to someone with actual analytical skill and medical expertise.
But even as a layman, I know that the seeming increase in colds will tend to augment the frequency of sneezing in the workplace.
Though my evidence is anecdotal, I would say that this theorem has been borne out and office sneezing has increased in number if not also in intensity.
An individual’s sneeze can be as unique to that person as his or her fingerprints. I worked with one female business reporter who would always sneeze five times in rapid succession, not once, twice, thrice or four (there’s no ice for that one) times but always the Fab Five.
Which made it difficult to offer the traditional, “God bless you.” You soon learned that were you to offer it at the first sneeze, you were pretty much obligated to follow up with a rapid volley of four more blessings. It seemed simpler to wait and offer one inclusive, “God bless you,” after her fifth and final sneeze.
Another co-worker sneezed but once, but so loudly that one editor ordered him – ordered him – never to sneeze in the newsroom again. I’m not sure how the National Labor Relations Board would view making that prohibition a condition of his employ, but I don’t believe it ever came to the NLRB’s attention.
At any rate, it’s difficult to offer, “God bless you,” after a sneeze that is that disruptive.
All of which brings me finally to my point. I’m all for offering a blessing after someone sneezes, and have been called upon to do so in slew-like proportions this cold season. What I resent is not getting a blessing in return after I sneeze.
When I complain, I’m told my sneeze sounds like a cough.
I tended to disbelieve this explanation at first, but it’s been sustained time and time again as my sneezes go unheeded in an office filled with otherwise enthusiastic God blessors.
The answer may be to offer a blessing to those who cough as well as those who sneeze. Who says a sneeze is more deserving of a blessing than a cough?
The medical implications of a cough are nothing to sneeze at, after all.*
At least a gesundheit should be offered.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media Service’s Raynham office and can be reached at email@example.com.
*Sorry about that. I think I’m running a high fever.