Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do I have to shake your hand?

Funny thing happened today on my way to work. During the smooth and ontime BART ride (always appreciate this rarity), I noticed a man suffering from a bad cold or a bad case of allergies. He was sneezing nonstop. He was polite enough to cover his nose up with his hands each time he let out a sneeze.

He got out at Civic Center station, like me, and was a few steps ahead of me on the escalator. During his walk up, he sneezed again. I remember thinking as I moved along the escalator that I'm probably passing his floating germs right now. The point being...his nonstop sneezing made an impression in my mind.

As I got to the company shuttle pick-up, I noticed he was there too. Oh, does he work in my company too? I thought to myself...I guess I've never see him before. An acquaintance of mine walked towards me at that point and said hello to me and also the sneezing man. He then asked me, "Have you met ****? He recently joined the company in the ***** team."

The sneezing man took his hand out as we are introduced. I was thinking, "Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? I don't want to touch his hand. I know his hands have been covered in saliva and mucus the past half an hour!" I tried my best to quickly think of an excuse to tie-up my hands...maybe I can pretend it is stuck in a pocket? Or maybe I can pretend I'm holding a heavy bag and can't move it? Whatever I thought of, I couldn't really act on it within that 1 second of time that I had before it seemed like his handshake was unanswered for way too long.

Alas, I gave in. I couldn't make up a believable excuse fast enough. I shook his hand like any normal person would. I figured this probably happens ALL the time especially at tradeshows and weddings, besides, I have Purell in my bag that I can use afterwards.

I had to refrain myself from popping out my hand sanitizer during the 5-minute shuttle ride since he was in the shuttle too. Once I got to work, I washed my hands thoroughly.


Anonymous said...

Excellent etiquette decision.

This is why I use my left hand/arm for sneezing and such. The right is free for handshaking.

On an unrelated note, I also hold drinks in my left hand, so if I shake hands, my right isn't cold.

Anonymous said...

the "sneezer" should have demonstarted some consideration and begged off shaking your, or anyone's, hand by saying he had a cold or some comparable excuse. and, you could have gotten out of the situation by claiming the same although you shouldn't have had to do so.