Let’s say that it’s a Sunday night. Let’s say that you haven’t been grocery shopping in a week, so you need A Lot of Stuff. Let’s also say that you are on Weight Watchers, so you are especially ravenous. So you have loaded up your squeaky grocery cart with veggies and zero-point foods and Weight Watchers ice cream treats which are ON SALE for pretty much the first time EVER.
Let’s also say that this little excursion to the grocery store happens in the middle of winter. Let’s add that this winter is filled with all the normal winter illnesses, but that it’s also been known for Swine Flu. And even though you and your spouse have both had the H1N1 vaccine, you don’t really relish the idea of having to test its efficacy. Let’s also say that you are a pretty entrenched germaphobe.
Let’s say you get to the checkout line. You put your reusable grocery bags on the belt. You unload your entire cart onto the belt. Veggies last – do NOT bruise my peppers.
And then the grocery checker starts hacking. Not so that she’s choking or anything. Just a casual sort of I-Have-A-Raunchy-Phlegm-Producing-Cold type of cough.
And with the very same hand that she’s just coughed into, she picks up your butternut squash and scans it. She picks up three cans of kidney beans and scans them. She picks up your Double Fiber bread and scans it.
Then she horks again into that hand. And with that same hand, grabs your jar of salsa. Your husband’s box of Frosted Mini Wheats. The can of crushed tomatoes. The mesh bag of oranges.
As this was happening, I just sort of stood there in open-mouthed disgust. My germ-fearing side was having a mini-panic attack. I telepathically willed my husband to say something. (He was just as grossed out and just as unsure of what the proper protocol was.) I wondered if it would be acceptable for me to ask her to stop and wash her hands. I did a mental inventory of all the cleaning products in our apartment, wondering if I could safely spray the contents of our grocery bags with something to disinfect it. How long do germs remain on surfaces, anyway?
(It was only on a return trip to the grocery store – where my husband and I purposely got into a longer line when we spotted Miss Phlegmy – that I spotted a Purell dispenser behind each of the checkers. Right behind her. So easy to reach out and squirt some hand sanitizer into her hand! Before spreading her germs all over our groceries. Gah.)
So, wise Internet… What would you have done? Would you have spoken up? If so, what would you have said? (Is there a tactful way to say “Stop coughing on my food”?) Or would you have said nothing, like we did, and wiped down your purchases with disinfectant wipes?