Saturday, October 23, 2010

Don't do drugs, kids.

A few days ago I had the misfortune of coming down with a slight head cold. It began with all of the usual symptoms: slightly sore throat, slightly achy body, and an unshakable desire for sleep. All sleep, all the time. It was the only thing I could think about for days. 

Unfortunately, I somehow managed to use up all of my sick days earlier in the year... which left me in sort of a quandary. I had to be at the office. I also had to sleep. So, I devised a sort of makeshift, get-well-soon routine. Every day I could last week, I came home from work, drank two glasses of OJ, went to bed at 5:30 p.m., woke up at 7 a.m., drank two more glasses of OJ, then left for more work where copious amounts of herbal tea and cough drops were consumed. 

My routine seemed to be working alright, or as well as could be expected under the circumstances, until yesterday. 

Thursday night I made a fatal mistake. I swung by the pharmacy and purchased Tylenol multi-symptom cough syrup. This was the first introduction of meds into my regiment. I normally eschew all forms of unnatural treatment. I figure, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and, if I'm going to continue to live in NYC and take the subway to work every day, my body has to be able to handle a few germs--I need to build up all the antibodies I can.

But Thursday I had reached the end of my rope. I needed to feel better, if only to remember, for the four hours the cough syrup took effect, how it felt to be well again!

I took the medicine before I went to bed and woke up on Friday feeling a little light-headed, but much better. I should have stopped while ahead. Instead, I took two more tablespoons before heading to the office.

Uh oh.

I'm not sure when it first hit me. I think it could have been on the subway to work. Or perhaps it was in the middle of my 9 a.m. meeting. The memory of the realization is fuzzy at best, but, I do remember realizing, in a half-panicked haze, that I felt exhausted all of a sudden and that the cough syrup I'd purchased was almost certainly not non-drowsy, and that I was an idiot and this was going to be the longest of days.

For most of yesterday I was little better than a zombie in front of a computer. Well, perhaps I was much better than a zombie at a computer because, if I had been a zombie, I probably would have destroyed the computer seconds before devouring the brains of all of my neighboring cubicle-mates, which would have created all sorts of problems for our IT and HR departments, and been a general distraction and inconvenience to workers in the surrounding area. But, you get the point.

I sat there, desperately trying to work, and, even more desperately, trying not to fall asleep. Loopy does not even begin to describe my state of mind. The place I was in was a special mix of delirium and purple haze. 

When the day finally ended and I somehow made it back on the subway and back to my apartment, I fell asleep around 6 p.m. and only woke up this morning at 8. 

Feeling much better, might I add! Although I don't think my cough syrup had as much to do with that as the 14 hours of sleep last night.

The moral of this story is in 3 parts: 1) Don't use up all of your sick days in the beginning of the year, 2) Always read warning labels on medicine bottles, and 3) If/when encountering a zombie coworker, throw a computer at him. It will busy him the amount of time it will take you to escape, brain undevoured and intact.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just Call Me Wonderwoman

A couple of weeks ago, I realized something about myself: I have an uncontrollable impulse to help my fellow man, an impulse which I am in the process of systematically eradicating from my personality traits as it is completely socially unacceptable and often downright irritating to others in my current environment.

In this city I've found that my "help" is often spurned and elicits a sense of suspicion and foreboding by those unfortunate enough to receive it. For the skeptics in my readership, I give you Exhibits A and B.

Exhibit A:

Walking down 49th Street on the way to brunch one fine Sunday morning, I came to the relatively busy intersection of 49th Street and 8th Avenue. Waiting to cross at the corner with me was an elderly man and his adorable dog. While obviously an adult dog and not a puppy, this dog was tiny. It had short, tiny legs; a short, tiny torso; and a short, tiny neck to support its tiny head.

In the critical moment that we were waiting for the cars to stop whizzing past so we could cross, this minuscule head/neck combo proved to be nearly fatal to our four-legged friend. I watched in horror as the pup slipped out of his collar and commenced to walk about the street corner untethered, mere feet away from certain death-on-wheels.

Without thinking about it, I lunged for the thing. Cat-like (no pun intended) reflexes that, up until this moment, had never been in my repertoire of inherent talents, suddenly kicked in and I managed to grab it with both hands, saving it from its future fate as a skid-mark on the city asphalt.

I looked up at its owner, grinning like an idiot. I'd done it. The little feller was gonna be ok.

His reaction to my selfless heroism? He glared at me, grabbed the dog, put the leash back on, and made eyes at me until the light switched to "Walk". I swear I think  he thought I tried to steal his dog. He thought that I willed the leash and collar of his tiny neck with mind bullets in order to serve my own evil, dog-stealing purposes.

I wanted to run after him, to tell him I prefer my canines with a little more meat on their bones, that I wouldn't take his stupid tiny-necked pile of fur off his hands if he paid me, but by the time all of these responses had occurred to me, the moment had passed and I was running late for brunch. Those bottomless mimosas weren't going to drink themselves, after all.

I thought this was an isolated incident of ungratefulness and signature NYC cynicism, until...

Exhibit B:

Again, I was walking down a sidewalk (should probably avoid those at all costs as it's the most likely place to encounter horrible people, but I've found sidewalks pretty hard to elude). In front of me I noticed a woman with a baby stroller; the kind of woman who, in the previous post, I proclaimed so much pity for.

I noticed this woman's baby was playing with something white. It looked like it could be a favorite blanket, perhaps. Then, before my eyes, the baby dropped it. The mother didn't notice.

I immediately took it upon myself to save that child the trauma that would surely be the result of the loss of so precious a childhood relic. I grabbed for the blanket, simultaneously yelling desperately to the mother "Wait!"

Only, the white object was not, in fact, the baby's blankie. It was actually just a white plastic grocery store bag. And it was sticky.

The mother turned around, saw me holding this piece of trash for her child, and said in a tone that can only be described as half contemptuous, half amused "She don't need that. Picked it up about a block ago."

Then she turned her heel and walked off without so much as offering myself (or, more disturbing, her child) some Purell or even just one of those hand wipes I know mothers of infants are required by law to carry around in their purses.

Here in New York, it seems, no good deed goes unpunished. I guess I'm just going to have to learn to keep my hands to myself. That is, if I don't have to have them amputated because I've caught some deadly, flesh-eating disease from a misleading piece of refuse.

Sick. I seriously shudder at the memory.