Purell is a dear friend of mine. It keeps the germs away and makes me smile. No orange juice needed when I have the 99.9% germinator. However, there were those moments in life where I proclaimed “Oh shit, I left the Purell at my apartment.” Even after a careful survey of my messenger bag, no hand sanitizer to be found.
As an avid rider of the New York subway, my days without Purell were the equivalent of a Medieval soldier without his shield. On those days, there was always that one sick person, who happened to sneeze up a storm. Their favorite seat was always right next to mine, of course.
A couple days later, I made an art form of breathing out of one nostril. It inspired me to stock up on Purell and aggressively find a seat on the subway (as opposed to hanging on to a poll). Sometimes, there were the moments when I was the Loch Ness monster of the public transportation system.
In Tokyo, surgical masks are as common as black coats in New York. Everyone has them; they even come in a vast array of colors and styles. They use them for the obvious, to prevent germs spreading. However, I didn’t get the memo to bring a surgical mask to Japan. Hence, I became paranoid to sneeze. I would often times wet my lips, just so I wouldn’t sneeze in the middle of the metro.
All my memories of Tokyo take place in the winter, flu season. On one faithful metro ride to Ginza, my nose started to itch. I wet my lip and the sensation went to the back of my head. The itchy nostril feeling returned bringing its spew of menace into my throat. I was in the one train where everyone was sporting the surgical mask. The urge persisted I fought against it. However, troop sneeze-a-lot prevailed. I let a sneeze so loud; Godzilla would’ve run for cover.
I looked around and nobody cared. I am sure they were thinking “Purell, Purell where art thou?” Everyone was napping or playing on their mobile. Still, I didn’t catch on to the surgical mask trend.
These days, I drive a car. I feel like the boy in the bubble. It’s a relatively germ free place. However, I still miss my buses and subway, even if I am exposed to germs, the excitement of being in a big city makes up for a cough and sneeze later.