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Trainspotter

Thanks to the H1N1 type A flu outbreak, a simple subway ride now makes me nervous

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We just missed the train, but another one came minutes later and good luck seemed to have canceled out bad until I heard the first cough.

 

I looked across the car from where I stood with my 15-year-old daughter and decided the source of the cough was a woman in a dark blue top. She sat slumped in a seat, eyes bleary, looking not well.

 

I heard another cough and a sneeze to my right. I looked down the car to see a woman in a tan jacket, holding a crumpled tissue to her nose.

 

The train stopped for the next station, Bergen St. A woman in black boarded and promptly coughed. She had covered her mouth, but she then used her hand to grab a pole.

 

I doubt I would have noticed any of this had I not been riding with my daughter during a H1N1 flu scare. I wondered for a fleeting instant if there were even the remotest chance the balky MetroCard that caused us to miss the first train had led to her being exposed.

 

I quickly reminded myself there had been only a small number of cases in a very large city.

 

I also reassured myself that the flu season has been much milder here than in Mexico for reasons the experts are still trying to determine. The half-dozen people I know who contracted it were all on the mend.

 

The train rolled on and I wondered what I would do if the virus turned vicious or a new and deadly one struck.

 

Would I still let my daughter ride the train to school?

 

How else would she get there and back?

 

She could ride a bike, but she had gotten a reminder of the hazards that entails when she saw a bicyclist killed by a school bus the other day.

 

I had read that the city reduced subway crowding during the 1918 flu epidemic by staggering the opening of businesses and theaters. Fear further reduced the ridership by 12 million riders in a month.

 

"The most dangerous means of transmitting disease was the subway," said the city health commissioner at the time, Royal Copeland.

 

"Undoubtedly, there were many cases of influenza in the cars, and these infected others. Many a man who was sick must have felt that he had to go to work, and must have taken his disease into the subway and spread it."

 

The car in which we were riding seemed suddenly smaller as the woman in black took her hand off the pole, coughed and grabbed it again. The pole my daughter was holding certainly had a microbial history of its own.

 

"Maybe I should get you some hand sanitizer you can carry," I told her.

 

I felt silly and unduly alarmist even as I said it. This was not 1918. And I had always felt that a Brooklyn kid has a stronger immune system than most as a result of the daily workout he or she gets moving on the streets and the subway.

 

At the next stop, my daughter gave a quick teenage "Bye, Dad" and stepped off. She was followed by the woman in black, fortunately not too closely.

 

New passengers boarded, including a man who grabbed the pole just about where the woman had after coughing.

 

I heard three more sneezes and two more coughs before I got off at Penn Station. I saw 39-year-old Frank Patterson of Massapequa, L.I., on the platform, rubbing sanitizer in his hands.

 

"My wife turned me on to it," he said.

 

He reported he had begun using sanitizer before the flu scare. So had another straphanger, Louise Shultz of the Bronx, who was also rubbing her hands.

 

"I do it a little more now," she allowed.

 

So do a good number of other people, if hand sanitizer sales at the Duane Reade by the escalators is any indication.

 

"We sold out yesterday,'" a cashier said. "We're waiting for a delivery."

 

"A lot of people are asking for it," said a second cashier.

 

"You need some?" a third cashier asked me. "I have one spray by my register."

 

I declined the kind offer, but as I rode uptown later I could not help hearing two coughs I would have never noticed before the scare.

 

MICHAEL DALY

NY DAILY NEWS

April 30th 2009

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I don't get why people are so paniced. It is just a new strain of the flu and it has not killed nearly the same amout of people the regular flu does each year.I am not worried nor will I change what I do day to day because of it. Yea I might wash my hands alot more but thats it.

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I don't get why people are so paniced. It is just a new strain of the flu and it has not killed nearly the same amout of people the regular flu does each year.I am not worried nor will I change what I do day to day because of it. Yea I might wash my hands alot more but thats it.

 

I just think its funny. It's funny in the sense that I see people every day in restrooms that don't wash their hands after using the bathroom...don't flush after using...handling food....day in and day out we're crammed inside trains during rush hour with someone coughing sneezing and what have you, dirty homeless people walking back and forth, etc etc. People don't think about their chances of getting sick then. But when it's broadcast over the news and such all of a sudden people start freaking out and walking around with surgical masks, washing their hands every 3 minutes and so forth. I honestly feel like people need to be thrown into a panic just so they're forced to do the things they should be doing anyway.

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people overreact to everything. Matted summed it up. Take precautions and beyond that, that's all you can do. No need to avoid all human contact. It's allergy/asthma season, lots of people are going to be hacking weezing and sneezing. Just don't get hit with any projectiles and take the usual caution and hope for the best, no need to get out the bubble wrap... I'd be more worried if I was old or had a kid

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When riding the train, I should not deserve looks if I sneeze away because of my allergies. People are just too paranoid. It's the same kind of paranoia (I really hate to use this analogy) as seeing a Middle Eastern looking man walking around with a large bag around him.

Yes, we know the disease is now a pandemic. But if you act on certain measures, you can prevent it from coming to you. There is no need to wear a mask. In fact, wearing the mask would only make people afraid that YOU have the disease.

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I seen 3-4 ppl with the mask on the train yesterday!

 

Probably see more and more people with masks as time goes on.

 

In not too particularly worried. Im not gonna have an all out panic attack if someone across the car starts coughing and sneezing.

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I don't get why people are so paniced. It is just a new strain of the flu and it has not killed nearly the same amout of people the regular flu does each year.I am not worried nor will I change what I do day to day because of it. Yea I might wash my hands alot more but thats it.

 

They should have paniced the day I saw this guy @ 59th Street-Columbus Circle on the Central Park West Line sneezed w/o covering his mouth and just a mist of silva flew out his mouth....good thing I was far from him. Other than that...I carry a bottle of Purell in my pocket and wash my hands the minute I walk in the house!

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They should have paniced the day I saw this guy @ 59th Street-Columbus Circle on the Central Park West Line sneezed w/o covering his mouth and just a mist of silva flew out his mouth....good thing I was far from him. Other than that...I carry a bottle of Purell in my pocket and wash my hands the minute I walk in the house!

 

See, that is just gross no matter what! I wounder if in light of the recent events, will the NYPD pick up with issuing summonses for spitting?

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See, that is just gross no matter what! I wounder if in light of the recent events, will the NYPD pick up with issuing summonses for spitting?

 

If NYPD give out summons for spitting.....they will run of ticket receipts b/c lots of ppl do it. Now if I had a cold and I need to get rid of the phlegm I'll spit on the tracks (yeah I know its nasty), but I won't spit on the platform!

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When I was in high school, they would give them out all the time for spitting (on the platform and roadbed). They also used the opertunity to do a warrent check and look for paint markers and other "graffiti making devices". Spitting on the tracks is one thing (yea its still gross) but I hate when people spit on the platform.

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If you think thats bad, walk around chinatown and flushing with the people wearing those masks........even in the chinatown & flushing based train stations......

 

From the words of the great Gregory House :"People are stupid, they overreact to things that wont affect them as much as others who are more vulnerable and susceptible to the conditions..."

Edited by Cait Sith

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They also used the opertunity to do a warrent check and look for paint markers and other "graffiti making devices"

 

As great as that idea sounds, it will cause massive fury. I carry around a whole bunch of hard metallic markers that people commonly use to tag up the subways, but I don't...I carry it around for art class.

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