May 6, 2009

An apple a day - hey sanitize those hands!

I had a doctors appointment today. It was mostly about my battle with allergies, but I was also checking up on a couple of other issues. Nothing life-threatening, more for peace of mind.

As I stepped off the elevator, I was greeted by a sign that said, "For your safety, we are screening people for flu-like symptoms." Before I could enter the office, a nurse asked me some questions and took my temperature. A simple precaution I suppose when you are entering a place where people aren't at full strength.

Much has been made of the swine flu pandemic. It has filled the news cycle with something to fear in a time when we already have plenty on our plate. Several local schools closed down last week, but now have reopened as practicality takes the place of caution. Turns out it this strain of flu isn't any more harmful than the one we get each year. It just had a better (or worse) press agent.

In the center of the media storm, a person being interviewed on NPR recommended that we all fill our gas tanks and draw as much money out of the ATM as possible. His reasoning was that so many people would be hit with the virus that everyday services might come to a halt. It was very reminiscent of the Y2K panic that ended up being overblown. Not everything is the "storm of the century", but inciting a little panic (or at least caution) makes for great headlines, sells a lot of duct tape, and covers your butt in case of a lawsuit.

To complete the day of metaphors, a car alarm was set off by a passing fire engine as I headed to my next appointment. When a car alarm goes off, how often do you think "please shut that thing off" rather than "someone is breaking into a car". You can only cry wolf so many times before people stop tuning you out.

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