I’ll be rude next time

The other day when I stopped by the package store, the first thing I heard upon walking into the store was an elephantine sneeze from the back room.  The store was full of customers, and the ding-ding of my arrival bell apparently signaled the manager that too many people were now waiting in line.  He hollered for help.  Out came the sneezer from the back room, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand.

I looked down at my already-addressed package, glad it was ready to go.  I shouldn’t have to touch anything this guy touched.

Wrong.  Turns out I needed to fill out the store’s form.  He handed me a flowery pen, which I looked at dubiously.  Should I be polite and pretend I hadn’t just heard his hack?  Or wisely germophobic, refusing to touch anything he’d touched?

Almost before I’d formulated the debate, my polite southern-lady side had gingerly taken the nasty pen and prayed a prayer of germ protection.  They’re everywhere, after all.

Today?  I’m sneezing.


I’ll be rude next time.


  1. Lol. When I read package store I thought you meant the liquor store. They are called package stores in New England. Hope you feel better soon.

  2. Or you can just be uber prepared and hand him a pack of tissues (as a nice thing) and a clorox wipe (for anything you have to touch) next time you’re encountered with a similar issue. 🙂 or just the clorox wipe.

  3. That stinks. :-/ I just keep hand sanitizer in my purse (and tissues, but that’s more about my own sinus issues than offering to anyone else) – they work well together in that if I have to blow my nose in front of strangers I can at least immediately “wash” my hands in front of them, too. But it also makes it easier for my germophobe self to use public pens, etc when necessary or polite – just don’t touch your phone or anything else of yours, wait until you’re out of the room/at a polite distance, and sanitize. I use it everytime I have to sign or tap on the self-card-swiper at checkout, too, especially during flu season.

  4. Oh no. 🙁 So sorry, and hope you recover quickly.

  5. Another vote for sanitizer. I also tend to keep a pen sticking out of my purse so that I can grab it quickly when needed.

    • Yep, I like to use my own pen. I might mention my preference because of the ‘grip’ section.
      I greatly dislike having to use a stylus for electronic signature, and try to pay cash at a store which has one.

  6. ………..or you can do like a friend of mine. She carries a small can of Lyesol in her purse. No lie!
    I had to giggle when I read this. I could totally see me doing the same thing.

  7. The one place I will absolutely not use the provided pen is the pediatrician’s or doctor’s office. I fish one out of my purse every time.

  8. With a nasty norovirus going around our area, I’ve gone completely Monk. I carry an antibacterial wipe into the store with me, and if I have to touch anything–pen, debit-swiper, whatever–I touch it with the wipey. I don’t think it’s rude; it’s just a survival tactic. I can carry my wipey discretely and with a smile. I won’t be smiling at all if I get the intestinal purge thing and then pass it to a whole crew of kids.

  9. Be rude!! 😉 I am totally with you all! Influenza is really bad here right now, so my normally hyper-germaphobic self is now even moreso. (For the most part, we’re just staying home and avoiding contact with the outside world!) I also vote for the hand-sanitizer use when a sink and soap is not readily available.

    Honestly, it irritates me when folks don’t have the manners to at least cover up their sickness in public (if not just keep their germs at home to begin with). It confirms to me why I need to keep teaching my kids to “cover when you cough!”… 🙂

  10. I always carry and USE my own pen. Since I started doing that a couple of years ago, I spend a lot less time sick! 🙂

  11. You could have taken the southern girl side of you one step further and said something like, “Well bless your heart I can’t use that pen that you just sneezed all over, honey.” Sorry for your sickness. Chalk it up to building immunity for the future. Get well soon.


  12. The not-so-funny side of this is that there are people who are medically vulnerable. A cold landed my daughter in hospital on IV’s and oxygen twice last year, a little friend of ours (almost 2 years old) spent over a month in ICU and had to be revived 5 times because of a cold and we almost lost another friend as well. For those of us who are healthy, it doesn’t seem a big thing to just solder on, but for the elderly and medically fragile (think chemo patients, children with heart conditions etc) it is a matter of life and death. So consider it a community service to use hand sanitizer and educate people on the appropriate way to sneeze into their elbows and use a tissue! 🙂 It’s not just self preservation. I am to the point of sending a polite note to the parents of my kid’s scout troupes about NOT attending events and sneezing all over everyone present as well as the buffet after my husband brought home the cold which landed our daughter in hospital with pneumonia last year.

  13. This same thing has happened to me recently. I was at Target and the person ringing me up had a nasty cold and kept rubbing their nose on their sleeve. And then licking their fingers to separate the bags. I was about to vomit thinking of the germs!! I wanted to complain to a manager but just left. When I got home I tossed all the bag (I usually keep them). And I scrubbed my hands!!

  14. I always carry and use my own pen as the public pen grosses me out, especially in places like the Dr’s office or pharmacy. I always have it ready to go and just say “Oh thanks, but I already have one” when offered the public pen. I was waited on in the office supply store the other day by someone who was obviously very ill. I hand sanitized like crazy in the car and then washed my hands very well when I got home. I hate the idea of people at work spreading germs but I also understand that if she doesn’t work, she doesn’t get paid. It’s a difficult situation for many people.

  15. When it comes to co-workers, employees, or service people being sick, I just go with the flow.
    And if your kids are involved in ANYTHING that involves them leaving your house, they are around children/adults who are sick. And if you/spouse are out and about, you ARE around people who are sick and bringing into your house.
    For people who have immune issues, they should be wearing a mask the minute they step out of the house, showering when they return, all clothes into hot water wash, and don’t go out if you don’t have to.
    I work in the healthcare industry as A receptionist, I am constantly spraying and wiping everything, when I get home I strip off clothes to wash in hot water and take a shower immeditately before I even get a chance to say ‘hello to kids in the house’.

  16. one thing to be very careful of is the over use of sanitizer it doesn’t get all the germs and the ones that are left over are really hard to kill. Use anti-bacterial stuff with caution building up a good immune system is the better route to take, there are already too many antibiotic resistant bugs around, we need to build up immunity with proper nutrition and good exercise.

  17. This time of year, I ALWAYS carry my own pens!:)

  18. Southern? Where are you from? :o) Yuck!!!