It was a cold and rainy Seattle morning, and I had just finished texting a friend of mine a story about my inherent uncoolness. I put my phone away and stepped on the bus. It turned the corner as I was walking down the middle of the aisle looking for an open seat. And in an almost prophetic testament to my text conversation, I slipped in a puddle of water and face-planted.
My gut reaction was to lie there hoping to die of shame, body rolling back and forth as the driver whipped around each corner. But fortunately my OCD kicked in as soon as my hands hit the ground and I scrambled up as quickly as humanly possible so that the germs wouldn’t start eating me alive then and there.
It was also a particularly bad day to remember I’d run out of hand sanitizer–something I don’t normally leave my home without.
I don’t touch my keyboard at work if I know someone else has sat at my desk without Cloroxing my entire desk down, and I don’t use the kitchen at work because I’ve watched people fail to wash their community forks and knives to my standards and refuse to put them anywhere near my mouth.
So landing palms down on the bottom of the bus, face inches from God knows what has been tracked on board and left to multiply on the wet floor was beyond something from my nightmares.
I nearly vomited then and there, but couldn’t afford to lose any more dignity than I already had.
I took my seat after exactly zero good Samaritans asked if I was ok, feeling both ashamed and wondering what floor virus I’d contracted.
I figured I should count my blessings and be grateful I didn’t break a bone, because with this crowd I’d be dragging my bloody stump of a broken leg, bone protruding through my faux leather leggings to the nearest empty seat while everyone acted like they didn’t see me fall on my fucking face, as they all gazed out the window pretending to listen to music with their earbuds in.
Once I made it to my seat, I checked my hands and wasn’t bleeding, so at least the bus germs hadn’t entered my bloodstream. I figured maybe I could escape with only a bruised ego.
That is until a few days passed and I started to fall ill, knowing that the bus incident had not only robbed me of my pride but also was now taking my health.
As I sprawled out, ill and unwilling to move off of the couch, I wondered who would find my body days later and how they would track it back to me taking a spill on the bus. Maybe I would use the last energy I had to scrawl out a note to whoever took it upon themselves to break down my door.
I got a text about free Tori Amos tickets that night and knew that I couldn’t possible make it out. I needed to be a responsible adult and take care of myself.
This is unless I took a ton of Sudafed, Airborne, and drank a lot of water–so I did exactly that. I’d always wanted to see Tori Amos before I died.
All hopped up on a concoction of pills and vitamins, I wandered out the door in a stupor and made it through the concert riding a little bit of a pill buzz and feeling weirdly proud of myself for being able to force myself off the couch.
On Monday I found out that my coworker had the same symptoms as me, and we both had fallen ill on the same day of Thanksgiving break. We share an office that was immediately labeled the quarantined room. I wasn’t even a little mad about it.
It meant people didn’t bother us, and it was weirdly comforting knowing we suffered from the same ailment, and I wouldn’t contract a different disease from her. The normal compulsion I would have to wash my hands until they bled being in that office with someone with an illness was now not an issue.
I was eerily calm about the whole thing. Perhaps because I knew I wasn’t going to get any worse. Or maybe because misery loves company as we both hacked up a lung after making phone calls.
But I knew the reality behind my calm demeanor. If she was sick in the same time frame as me, that meant that I didn’t contract a deadly bus disease after all. So I wouldn’t have to worry about writing my will in blood on a paper towel on my kitchen counter until I actually contracted a real bus disease. Until then it was smooth sailing.