Respectfully Yours: Bus passenger’s cold
Dear Jacquelyn, I recently took a bus trip to New York City. The bus was packed and I was seated before the long line of passengers piled onto the bus. The seat next to me was available and a woman sat down next to me. As soon as the bus pulled out, I noticed she had a cough and head cold. I knew I was in for an unpleasant bus ride. I worried that I would catch her cold. Why do people travel when they are visibly sick? What do you recommend I do if this happens again?
Public transportation by nature places you in close proximity to strangers for long periods of time. It is inevitable that some of these people may be sick with a cold or even worse, the flu. I encourage you that the next time you find yourself sitting next to a sick traveler, talk about the situation promptly and use a friendly tone.
Smile and say, “I can see you are not feeling well. It’s not fun to travel while you’re under the weather.”
Travel prepared. Bring tissues, hand sanitizer and cough drops to offer to your neighbor to limit the coughing and sneezing. Share them when necessary. When someone is visibly ill, it’s a good time to keep your hands to yourself. For example, it is classic etiquette is to avoid touching your face. Touching your face shows nervousness.
However, in this situation, avoiding doing so will also keep you healthier. And, while you may really enjoy meeting the person in the seat next to you, don’t feel bad about avoiding shaking hands. They will understand. The biggest thing in terms of making the most of a situation like this is attitude. You can roll your eyes at an ill passenger if you want, but it’s not going to help anything.
Avoid making your own travel miserable by getting all worked up. The best thing you can do is to be aware of the risk and take precautions to avoid getting sick. And, if you’re the one with the cold, respect your fellow travelers by simply staying home.
Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn
Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation. All Rights Reserved © 2018 Jacquelyn Youst