Last Saturday, I went on an inadvertent all day drinking pilgrimage to North Beach one of San Francisco’s most touristy, least-visited-by-locals quarters. Despite it’s overpriced Italian restaurants, weird danceclubs, overelaborate strip clubs and the bevy of bridge-and-BARTers who frequent them, North Beach still has some fine bars, of both the divey and bobo variety. In these bars, where I wasted a whole day, while spending upwards of $100 on booze and food and probably $15 alone on the various jukeboxes, I sowed the seeds for the cold that has currently stuffed up my nose and left me tired, achy and cranky.
Now, I suspect one of the friends who I was drinking with, who was coughing and sniffling for the duration, gave me this cold. I can’t entirely blame him though. If I had been exercising sound judgment, washing my hands regularly, eating something other than greasy bar food (vegetables, maybe?), exercising even a little bit and getting enough sleep, I would probably be fine right now. Unfortunately, I did none of those things, and now my sinuses feel like they’re filled with green caterpillar poop and my skull seems too have shrunk two sizes in the wash, putting the squeeze on my fragile brain. So now that I have this stupid cold, I thought I might outline what I am doing to beat it.
First of all, I haven’t called in sick. Now, I know you’re thinking that the only way to truly beat a cold is, for a couple days, to stay in bed, drink water/juice/tea and not check your email. That’s probably true, but as a freelancer I don’t really have that luxury. Thursday, I had to field produce a corporate video shoot, and if I flaked over the glut of snot-rocket-fuel in my nostrils, not only would I have NOT gotten paid, but I’d also never be hired by this client again. So the whole staying in bed thing wassn’t an option. Which is fine. I don’t need soup delivered to me and to have my dad move the TV into my bedroom. Granted, that would definitely help me get better, but it’s also for children.
However, as I worked, when possible, I hit up the Purell dispensers that are now more prevalent in public spaces than payphones. I drank more water than I usually drink during a normal day, which is to say, I occasionally drank some water. And I was kind enough to tell the people around me that I had a cold, I (tried) to avoid shaking hands with people, or hugging or doing a French-style hello cheek kisses (a thing I totally do). When colleagues or clients went in for some kind of physical contact, I was like “Slow your roll, I’m just getting over a cold,” and offered a maybe slightly less germ-ey fist bump. None of this will make ACTUALLY my cold any better, but it will help me avoid making people think I’m a total asshole for coming to work sick.
The other thing I did as my cold progressed was not stop doing anything. I still met friends for food, I still went to my regular neighborhood café, and I still went drinking. Now, I know what you’re thinking, that alcohol does nothing to help you get better from a mild cold virus, to which my response is, a [deep-breath-resignation] yeah.
But does it make a cold worse? I mean, probably, but I’m not going to commit to the general consensus on this subject until I see the science, goddammit. Anyways, I haven’t been drinking THAT much, except for Friday night, when I drank a ton, but the drinking was in the context of an awesome/large happy hour sushi dinner, so that’s okay, right? You know, because, um, protein? I still tried to be somewhat responsible; when available, I ordered a hot toddie even though it’s a dead giveaway that you’re under the weather. And, while out drinking, I even ordered a cup of ice water or two to stay hydrated. I guess my feeling is if you’re going to wake up feeling shitty with a cold anyways, what difference does being a little hungover make? (Answer: none).
The adult way to beat as cold is take it just a little bit easier, but not use your cold as an excuse to not do anything, because not only is that depressing, it’s not really going to work. Your cold will maybe last six days instead of seven, and that will be a week of your life that you’ll have nothing to show for, except maybe having re-watched the first three seasons of the Sopranos on your iPad in bed. The thing is to just not be an asshole about your cold. Tell people you’re a little sick and leave the bar earlier than you would have. Try hard not to touch people. Wash your hands so they’re less likely to get sick. Don’t go to a retirement home or bingo hall or any other place where your cold could potentially kill off some senior citizens. Keep tissues/cough drops in your pockets. Drink some a daily emergen-c so you can placebo-effect your way to believing you’re get better. Try to sleep a little bit more. Sneeze into your elbow. Just go about business with a modicum of care and don’t be an asshole.
Henry Goldman is founder of YR AN ADULT. Turns out his cold was much more serious than he thought it was. He’s now dead.
Photo credit: flickr user studio muscle, used under cc license.