We are taught by our parents not to talk to strangers, not to go anywhere with strangers, and most disappointing and taunting of all, not to take candy from strangers. Basically, we are indoctrinated at a young age to be disciples of xenophobia, to view those we don’t know as suspicious.
This is quite problematic when it comes to using public transportation. When you are called upon to ride at least twice a day with a subway filled with these suspect, disgusting and possibly dangerous others whose only link to you is the fact that they are also humans (allegedly).
But it is at its absolute worst during cold and flu season because these gross, dangerous weirdos are going to infect you with your germs and you are out of luck because, locked inside the car, you are a sitting duck. Or more likely a standing duck.
The slightest hint of illness is regarded as The Plague: a sniffle, clearing of the throat. Someone with Kleenex is no longer just a prepared individual. They are clearly sick. And it’s even worse when you’re the sick one because there’s nothing like being made to feel like a leper before 9am.
A woman sitting beside me gave up her seat to an older-looking woman, but I’m convinced it was in part to get away from me. Kind of rude to do that to an old lady though; their immune systems are much weaker.
The most important thing I learned is this: When blowing your nose, do not look around. Keep your head bowed and stare down at your feet. You don’t want to see the looks of disgust. They will wound.