Don’t Panic

Yesterday, I went to buy sneakers and found a really good pair of Under Armour brand, among the last three pairs on the shelf. One’s sized 7.5 and it’s on sale. At the checkout, a woman queuing behind me coughed continuously. It’s a dry cough with no sound of sniffling nose, which inevitably reminded me of coronavirus–it’s said it usually involves cough, fever, pneumonia but no running nose. I took another look–she’s an Asian, about my age, probably younger though. Everybody that I think look my age usually turns out to be younger than me. She’s probably not from Wuhan, more of a Southeast Asian descent. I tried to keep my distance but whenever I moved forward a bit, she moved likewise. The gap between us was never more than one foot. I thought of dashing away from the checkout place back to the interior of the store, pretending that I forgot to pick up something. I thought of covering my nose with my sleeves. Both seemed rather impolite and even panicky. What if she only had a common cold and she would be terribly mortified if people avoid her like that. She might be reduced to tears if she knew I wanted to avoid her like a plague; she might develop antisocial tendencies because of it; she might become sicker and a common cold could evolve into something really serious.

I paid and left the store and sent messages to friends to talk about this. None of them took this incident seriously. They didn’t even think I could get coronovirus, the woman behind me could be the next diagnozed patient #8 of America, or I could somehow inflict pain on her. They didn’t think of anything I thought about.

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