First no jelly beans, now no Tuscany

I have been a germaphobe this entire cold and flu season and until now (knock on wood) it has served me well.

All of those Christmas treats laid out on staff tables? Nope, didn’t touch them.

Potlucks to celebrate birthdays? Nope, no thank you.

An open bag of potato chips or bowl of jelly beans? Are you kidding?

As coworkers went down one by one — most of them anyway — I waited to be next. I packed my DVR with programming so that I would be prepared to take to my sick bed. Nothing.

I have three grandchildren ages 5 and under who brought home all of the germs that the elementary school and preschool could offer, and somehow survived unscathed. I’m really not sure how since on more than one occasion, the 3-year-old looked me right in the face and coughed.

Again, I waited. Nothing.

I credit my thus far ability to escape flu season to three things:

  1. The aforementioned decision to forego anything consumable that is left out in the open — becoming a Petri dish for whatever happens by is on my list of don’ts.
  2. Continuously washing my hands and using hand sanitizer every time I touch a public surface. I put hand sanitizer in my purse, my car, my desk, throughout the house and used it. It also reminded me not to touch my face. Also in this category, falls using a paper towel to open restaurant doors or the work microwave.
  3. Consuming pot after pot of homemade chicken soup. Every time I felt a tickle in my throat or an errant sneeze, I bought chicken, celery and carrots and boiled up a new batch. There is extra stocked in the freezer.

I suppose I could add that I also had the flu shot, but virtually everyone I know who got the flu, also got the flu shot, so I’m not sure if that helped, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

I don’t recall being this much of a germaphobe — ever. But I also don’t recall there being so much sickness either. I can remember a case or two of the flu when my girls were younger, but I have watched my grandsons battle round after round this year.

And now, just when I thought we were almost done with cold and flu season, a new threat looms: the coronavirus. Will it be as impervious to my threefold approach to avoiding sickness? We will see.

For the past two months I have been consumed by watching the virus spread — mostly because my oldest daughter and I planned to be in Italy this Easter — Rome, Florence and Venice — a trip that we have talked about for years.

We had booked our flights and made our hotel reservations before the virus loomed as any sort of threat. Our biggest decisions had been: Should we fly through Paris or Rome? How should we travel to Florence? How many nights in Venice?

Then one morning the virus, which had been theretofore ensconced in China and parts of Asia for a couple of months, was in Italy. What? Then it started to spread from Milan to Venice and points south.

Suddenly all of our questions surrounded whether we should go at all. It wasn’t so much the threat of contracting the virus, but the fact that it certainly wasn’t shaping up to be the vacation we had dreamed of: Sipping cappuccinos on the side of a cobblestone street, wine tasting on a veranda in Tuscany, strolling museums filled with the finest art.

Instead, venues and cafés were closing; regions were in quarantine. What if we ended up being quarantined? My brother Ray, who makes practically an annual pilgrimage to Europe, thought we were being silly. He couldn’t think of a better place to be quarantined.

But what about when we returned? Would we spend the next two weeks on a military base?

Plus, did I want to be the person who brought coronavirus unwittingly back to Plumas County?

How would I feel if I looked into the eyes of my 3-year-old grandson and then gave him the coronavirus?

Nope, no thank you.