Please don’t shake my hand for the next month I’m sick of sick people!

Have you noticed the number of people with the flu, or flu symptoms, or an upper-respiratory infection? It is the time of year when America succumbs to the current illness bug, and millions of people will be coughing and sputtering and sneezing. The people who get flu shots may be immune from all this, but they may also fall victim perhaps with a milder condition. Go figure!

Hospitals report an overflow of flu victims and in many cases have limited the number of visitors. It has become a full-blown epidemic in some parts of the country.

Each new day brings us in contact with people who may be suffering from the flu. It can be at the mall or church or at work.

If you are in a work environment, there are certain practices to minimize the chance of contracting the flu. How about avoiding the use of a common copy machine? Those coffee mugs in the break area probably did not get a thorough washing, so bring your own cup. Be aware of objects that others who may be ill have touched, such as door knobs, the microwave key pad, light switches, and handles—on everything from faucets to refrigerators.

Do I sound like a germaphobe? During this time of the year, I am!

If you travel for business, you may want to avoid the shared computers in hotel business offices. Of course the items in your room, such as the TV remote and the phone, are likely candidates for flu bugs, so perhaps packing a disinfectant in your luggage would be appropriate.

I suspect that renowned germaphobe Howie Mandel could add to this list and if you are a Seinfeld fan, there is a whole episode devoted to germaphobes—”The Apology.”

So here are my admonitions:

• If you are coughing and sputtering and either have the flu or flu symptoms, stay home.

• If you decide to attend church services and are sick, consider sitting in the back rows away from everyone. Candidly, I think the Good Lord will give you a pass during your illness, so once again, stay home.

• If you go to work with these symptoms, don’t expect anyone to greet you with a smile.

• And if you encounter me at church or in public, don’t expect me to shake your hand. Just wait for my engaging smile.

Bill Kalmar

Lake Orion