Escaping the flu

February 2, 2013

A while back I came across a box in the basement labeled “my stuff.” I pretty much knew what kind of stuff was in there – old photos, high school football letters that were never sewn to a jacket, beer mugs, shot glasses and old motel keys.

Yep, quite a life’s legacy to hang on to after all these years. But bundled together with rubber bands were my old report cards from grade school and high school. Why I kept these, I really don’t know, but curiosity took over so I opened them, beginning with fourth grade.

Wow! An A in reading, but also some S’s next to some other subjects but no U’s. I guess my school didn’t begin using the traditional A through F grading standard, minus the E of course, until seventh grade.

Frankly, what I learned in ninth-grade algebra didn’t matter a whole lot now, but what did were areas reserved for tardy and absent. A cursory check of the cards that I still had, either seven or eight of them covering both elementary and high school, showed I was never tardy. That’s a strange word – tardy. Say it a couple of times and you can’t help laugh.

But I also discovered I was seldom, if ever, marked absent. Maybe twice over the course of seventh through 12th grade.

I raise this rather mundane nostalgic rediscovery for one reason. A headline in this newspaper last week noted that the flu season has peaked. And I rejoiced because I did not get the flu and therefore was never absent from work.

But I can’t help wonder if this flu season was hyped somewhat. News stations, with their “contracted” medical experts, implored all of us to get flu shots, wash our hands constantly and don’t, for any reason, sneeze or cough in someone else’s face..

Yet, our news story goes on to say there were 622 flu cases of reported in Washington County so far this year, and 168 cases in Greene County. Considering the populations of both counties, this is a small percentage. Granted, many who contracted the virus may not have sought medical treatment, so the figures might be skewed somewhat.

Over the last several years I have followed this sage medical advice and have gotten the flu shot and I have not come down with the flu. Another medicinal protocol I have faithfully followed during the flu season is to drink plenty of liquids, mostly imported from Tennessee. Thank you, Jack.

I wasn’t able though to escape an attack of a horrible flu bug in the 1960s called the Hong Kong flu. It was nasty and I got hit hard.

Seriously, the flu can be deadly for the very young and the elderly and it is no laughing matter for that sector of the population.

Our Greene County office has taken the required precautions. We have more dispensers of Purell hand sanitizer sitting about than most medical facilities. I feel confident that pumping the ethyl alcohol foam onto our hands has saved us from this potential plague.

I can hope there is no rebound and the next headline doesn’t read, “Flu makes unexpected return.”

I just heard someone in our ad department have a coughing fit, and I just received word one of my colleague has called off sick.

Whoops! I just sneezed. Where is that Purell?

Jon Stevens is the Greene County bureau chief. He can be reached at



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