We are all Dr. Babooner.
Dear Dr. Babooner,
My cubicle buddy has terrible Respiratory Etiquette.
She’s always sick but she won’t stay home. Somehow she got the idea that the best way to handle a sneeze is to deflect it upwards, much in the same way raggedy militiamen in third world insurrections celebrate by firing their guns into the air.
Although she sits on the other side of a partition, I can hear her hacking and honking and moments after she coughs I’m pretty sure I can feel tiny droplets of infected mucous settling on to my bare skin.
I’ve tried talking to her about it, but engaging her in conversation feels like a scene from one of those war movies where the infantrymen have to run zig-zag and dive behind obstacles just to get across the courtyard. Of course she believes she’s indispensable and that the company wouldn’t survive if she missed a day of work. So instead, it’s her co-workers who are dropping like flies.
Not only does she sneeze clouds of snotty mist all around the office, but I often see her wiping her nose with a bare hand just before using that very same hand to open a door or greet someone who has just walked into the room.
I want to throw a Purel-soaked body sack over her and drag her to a nearby clinic but I know she’d complain to the HR department.
Of course I’ve tried to inform HR that she’s a health hazard, but there’s never anyone down there. HR staff are the only people in the company who follow the contagious disease policy.
Dr. Babooner, I’m at my wits’ end and I don’t know what to do! Should I move, quit, or force the issue by wearing a gas mask? I’ll hold my breath until you reply.
I told I.M. we must all take our health very seriously for our own sake and for the sake of those around us. But it is difficult to tell someone who doesn’t see it that their poor hygiene is a hazard to others. I like the idea of a gas mask, although full body protection would be even better. Maybe you could start by declaring tomorrow Hazmat Friday?
But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?