Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Meatball Story

Seems like everyone I know has been sick lately, or is looking after sick kids, or is desperately trying to avoid catching a bug that's making the rounds. Even I have been using anti-bacterial hand gel at work, even though I can hardly stand the stuff. (It's slime! I can barely believe that my hands are cleaner once I've slathered that gunk all over them.)

In the end I guess it comes down to how healthy one's immune system is. I used to work in healthcare. Sick people would show up just to sneeze in my face. But I managed to stay healthy most of the time.

I used to know a guy who subjected his immune system to appalling challenges, yet he almost never got sick. For example, he used to share his food with his cats. I don't mean that he gave them little pieces of his food. I mean that he'd actually hold out the sandwich and let them nibble on it. Then he'd take a bite. Then he'd pass it back to the cat. I also saw him do this with a Creamsicle.

Now, we all know that cats use their tongues to clean their butts. Much as I love cats, I draw the line at letting them lick my food. And yet, I couldn't argue when my friend pointed out that he was healthy as a horse. The proof is in the pudding, yes? No?

The ultimate test was the incident with the meatball sub. This friend is someone I knew back in the days when we were all penniless students. He had spent his last few dollars on a meatball submarine sandwich. He took it to go on his way home from school, which included a ride on the subway train.

As with public spaces anywhere, many of the people of Toronto treat the transit system like a garbage pit. The floor is fundamentally grimy. I have seen people hork on the floor. I have seen people barf on that floor. It's probably the least sanitary surface you could find, because at least outdoor spaces get washed by rain.

So you can see where this is going. He unwrapped his sandwich, went to take a bite, and one of his precious meatballs dropped onto the floor. And. You know it. He couldn't let it go. He bent down, picked up that meatball, and ate it.


The crazy part is, he didn't get sick.

So anytime I realize that The Person With The Bad Cold has just used my phone, or chewed on my pen, or breathed in my face, and I feel hypochondriac panic rising, I just remember the meatball. If it's possible to eat a meatball off the floor of public transit and not even feel nauseous, then surely my immune system can tackle a few wimpy germs.


Jenski said...

Ewww...I do find some logic in keeping your immune system busy helps keep you healthy. If it gets bored, is that when you end up with pointless allergies? I still don't think I would eat something off a subway floor.

red's little sparkle said...

spending my adolescence with a bunch of punks, i have witnessed, more then once i might add, guys piss on the subway. honest to god. piss.

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: Yeah, I see the logic too, but I wouldn't take it that far.

Little Sparkle: Blargh! There's no excuse for that! Those who aren't potty-trained should still be in diapers, at any age.

honestyrain said...

you lost me at 'and not even get nauseous' because while i might not get a cold from it, i would most certainly be nauseous. am now, just thinking about it. ps, i would never eat a meatball of of the floor IN MY OWN HOME nevermind in public.

okay i might in my own home. not that i would eat a meatball ever. am a vegetarian. but you get it.

Aurora said...

Yep, even thinking about touching that subway floor makes me nauseous. Eating dropped food is one thing but in a public place... eek.

jameil1922 said...

i am going to vomit. do NOT use the meatball as an excuse. that's disgusting. umm... little sparkle is a confusing name to have over here i thought it was you. also supremely grossed out by the person who shares his food with his cats. please tell me you didn't date either of these people. *leaving in disgust*

Maxie said...

Haha- I'm pretty gross when it comes to germs but I wouldn't do that ... too far.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Umm... I like meatballs and all that, but off a subway floor? You have to draw a line somewhere...

Anonymous said...

FWIW, it was probably more unhealthy for the cat to be eating after him than vice versa.

A friend of mine had a daughter in high school and, for biology, she had to take swabs of 10 surfaces. She swabbed the garbage disposal, the toilet, the sump pump, the litterbox, and a host of other crappy (pardon the pun) places. The last swab was of her mouth.

Tests showed more bacteria in her MOUTH than any other surface she swabbed.

How's THAT for an eye-opener?

Sparkling Red said...

Honestyrain: I wouldn't eat a meatball off my own floor either.

Aurora: I keep track of which of my bags I have rested on the subway floor, and then I treat them like shoes i.e. I'd never put those bags on my dining table.

Jameil: Little Sparkle is my Little Sister. She does look a LOT like me. :-) The cat-feeding guy and the meatball guy were the same guy. OK, I won't tell you that I dated him.

Maxie: I'm glad to hear it. I would have been pretty surprised to get a comment from someone else who'd done the same thing. Maybe he should get a mention in the Guiness Book of World Records.

Warped Mind of Ron: Hi! Thanks for coming! I hope to see you again. :-)

Milindoe: That's pretty amazing. I guess that's why it's a bad idea to rinse your contact lenses by licking them. (I have never done this but I know a few people who do, when they're unexpectedly out all night.)

San said...

I've read that we already have all of these viruses and bacteria in our body anyway, so it's more a matter of our immune system caving in to them than our actual exposure.

Still, I am just too squeamish to eat a meatball off the subway floor. My immune system is cast iron. My stomach's more along the lines of cotton candy.

Karen said...

I am not a germophobe at all. I would probably eat that meatball off the floor in my house. But the subway!! YUCK.

Sparkling Red said...

San: I've heard that too. It makes me proud of my immune system. It's fighting the good fight!

Karen: That's good to hear. I think our society takes germ-o-phobia too far. I don't like products made with chemi-kills that pretend to help us by killing germs. They're toxic to us humans too!

Aric Blue said...

Yeah, I got it. It was the worst! Took like 3 weeks to get over it entirely. Infected my whole family. You should go into hiding for a few months until it passes. :)