'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
HAND-SHAKING DILEMMA DURING COLD & FLU SEASON
This has been an especially bad cold and flu season. It seems everyone I know is either very sick with a cold or the flu, or very sick with worry after waiting too long to get a flu shot and now there’s not enough vaccine to go around.
So far this year I haven’t come down with the flu. (With my luck I probably just jinxed myself by typing that sentence.) But a few weeks ago I did have a pretty nasty cold. Suffering with that cold raised a very important question: What’s the proper thing to do about shaking hands?
Since I’m in sales, I shake hands with people all the time. It’s become second nature. My daughters don’t even notice anymore when I greet them at the breakfast table each morning with a hearty handshake and a cheery, “Nice to see you again. How’s business been for you guys?” And at Mass each Sunday, as I make my way through the entire church, shaking everyone’s hand during the “Sign of Peace,” the priest often has to announce over the PA system, “Um, Bill, could you please go back to your pew? We’d like to finished sometime today.”
For many years I thought people caught a cold by not wearing a hat and scarf. (I’m not saying my mom was lying to me—I just think she was misinformed.) Nowadays modern medicine has proven that the second most effective way of spreading a cold is by shaking hands. The first most effective way, of course, is to sneeze directly into someone’s face from two feet away. But I’ve learned over the years that sneezing directly into the face of a potential customer reduces your chances of making a sale, so I avoid it whenever possible.
I’ve come up with a list of options to avoid making other people sick when you have a cold and find yourself in a hand-shaking situation. Unfortunately, none of them are likely to lead to a sale.
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