Saturday, December 29, 2007

Clever little virus

You can tell what time of year it is just by watching the advertisements for cold remedies. They start to appear in late November and by the week between Christmas and Hogmanay, almost every second ad on the telly is for something that will take away the sniffles, soothe the sore throat, dampen down the pounding in the head and generally make you feel like the world's OK again.

At least that's the theory. Mostly my experience with cold and flu remedies is that they make you want to go to sleep. Since having a cold or flu also makes me want to go to sleep, that's hardly a result.

But for some people these things work. They truly do feel better, or at least well enough to struggle back to the office, armed with a box of man-size tissues* and the will to succeed. But colds are clever little things. Just because the drugs take away the pain, doesn't mean the virus isn't still boiling around in all your secretions, and exploding into the air with every resounding sneeze. After schools, which quite frankly should be banned on the grounds of the contagion they spread,** offices at this time of year are perhaps the most dangerous places a healthy person can be.

It bugs the hell out of me, almost enough to get my goat. Christmas time, and someone comes crawling into work looking like death has spent too long under the sun-lamp. They sit at their desk being miserable, producing oceans of mucus and other unmentionable things, snorking loudly into too-small handkerchiefs, touching everything with their clammy hands, breathing. But they are heroes, really. They are martyrs to the work cause and should be lauded, of course. Or at least that's how they try to play for sympathy.

My first instinct is to tell them to fuck off back home and not come into the office until they're no longer contagious.

Watch the telly, though, and it seems only wimps stay at home. Real men*** swallow a couple of capsule and knuckle down to the job in hand. Never mind that every surface they touch becomes a ticking time-bomb, every sneeze a weapon of mass destruction. The drugs will see you all right. And if someone else gets your lurgy, hey, we'll sell them drugs too.

And that's the whole point, of course. If people were sensible and isolated themselves for long enough to recover from contagious diseases, then the spread would be minimised. But if there was no disease, then how would the drug manufacturers make any money? So in the best tradition of the free market, drugs companies make expensive treatments that are palliatives rather than cures, and use their marketing muscle to make us think it's a good thing to spread our unique brand of Christmas cheer. It's brilliant in its simplicity, really. If the common cold didn't exist, then someone from an ad agency would surely invent it.

Marketing - what a clever little virus it is.

* it's a lie. They're not man-sized at all. Not even the size of a tiny man like Agent Phil.
** or maybe just ban children, since they're the vectors. School is merely the environment they inhabit.
*** and women, I'm not sexist. Though Man-Flu is an ailment not to be belittled.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've suffered the bludgie mudjies since near last of November. And while I tried to repair to heal, it just didna work! I am of that offensive sort at the office, but, when I arrive, I carry Lysol to decontaiminate.

God Bless us every cold-infested soul!

December 30, 2007 5:19 am  
Anonymous norby said...

That was one of the few reasons I enjoyed working at a restaurant. Sick? Don't you dare come to work-there's food here, can't contaminate it!! If an employee tried to come in sick-home!!

Americans are the worst, this whole work until we die ethic. We're going to kill each other with our germs just to make it come true.

December 30, 2007 4:55 pm  

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