Sepsis in the City

Anyone who has moved to New York will tell you that the first year here is nothing like it’s portrayed in the movies. Recent transplants are shown holding maps and asking mean city-dwellers for subway directions to no avail. In reality, people are quite nice when it comes to giving directions and if learning how to buy a Metrocard or take a cab were really the biggest obstacles to overcome upon moving here I would officially be the Best New Yorker Ever.

One of my biggest challenges since moving to the city has been illness avoidance. I was sick for literally the first six months I lived here. I usually have a pretty good immune system so I couldn’t figure out why I seemed to contract every virus with which I came into contact. Then one day, as I was sitting at work and the person across from me was coughing straight at me, it hit me (as did the cold I developed about 3 hours later.)


Real New Yorkers know this, and they develop some pretty quirky habits to avoid illness. I know people who refuse to sit on the subway,  and others who would get an antibacterial gel IV drip if they could. The people of my office have their own tradition that I’m seriously considering adopting: Yelling SEPSIS!! at anyone with the slightest hint of illness as their method of telling them to stay at least 5 feet away at all times.

As I prepared to go to the airport on Friday for my trip home I realized this is the first time I’ve successfully avoided illness before going on a trip since moving here. Almost immediately after that realization I was struck with overwhelming anxiety at the thought of flying in a plane full of people probably carrying every type of awful disease ever.

This visceral reaction to mass transit is brand new, and it made me think about how my view of the world has changed.

Here’s a picture of pre-New York city Tiffany (I call her Baby Tiffany) on her first trip up to interview for jobs.

Oh Baby Tiffany, you’re about to get really sick.

After a few months here, everything is a threat. From doorknobs to cute babies to movie theater seats. Everything and everyone is probably a carrier of your next illness.

As a result, the standard New York reaction is something like this:

Yes, that is a bubble. If someone could please tell me where to purchase one of these bubbles I would be much obliged.

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