so this morning, I'm stood at a bus stop, next to a young child and his father. I cough, into my newspaper, and carry on reading.
then I replay the last few seconds over in my head and realise that the father has moved his child to his other side, away from me, and is giving him a lecture on presonal space, and how one should hold their hand over there mouth when they cough, to avoid the spread of germs.
what annoyed me was that this man clearly had a problem with me not covering my mouth, and yet had said nothing to me, but had talked to his child about the situation loudly enough that I would obviously overhear him.
I waited till he'd stopped, and said that if he had a problem with something he'd done, he should have talked to me politely about it, and that I found the way he'd handled things very rude.
there then followed what felt like a 10 minute heated discussion about germs, coughing, politeness, personal space, and ended when we got on the same bus, with him muttering about disrespect, and I sat upstairs to walk away from the situation.
so why am I still seething about this, enough to post here, 2 hours later?!
I don't consider that I did anything wrong, coughing into my paper, not directly towards anyone else.
and I feel that if one has a problem with someone, the best way to deal with it is a direct conversation with them, and not a loud whing or moan, or lecture, to the person sat next to you.
other opinions are invited on this, in case I'm completely in the wrong, and need to be told.
if he's standing so close to you in the first place that he needs to move, then who's invading who's personal space?
Last time I looked, there was no obligation to stand in the pocket of the person queueing next to you.
(Having said which, I have a possibly irrational dislike of the noise of coughing - it just seems to irritate me more than other comparable noises - so I appreciate it when someone dulls that noise by putting hand over mouth).
I'd have pointed out to the man that every surface of the bus will be covered in germs, and that if he wants to behave like Michael Jackson then he probably shouldn't go out in public with children.
I was reading the Metro, which apparently is absorbant, will catch my germs, and transmit them to other people who read my paper (very few, as it goes in my bag, and then home, and is then recycled!). I might have been holding it slightly angled upwards - so that I could read it (ie bottom edge nearer to me than top edge) the man and his child were already at the bus stop, sat near one end, I stood in the space between them, and the end of the shelter. I was facing out of the shelter, so I thought, away from anyone else. It was 'just a cough' not particularly expectorant, but not a small simple throat clear either (a large inhale, with two coughs of exhale - not in my opinion likely to spread anything far, or wide - especially funneled by my paper).
In a reverse situation I probably wouldn't have noticed someone else coughing, and if I had, and thought it was enough of a proble, I'd either have ignored it, moved my kid away (not just to the other side of me, but to the other end of the bus shelter, where there was plenty of room), or alternatively I'd have had a polite word, to the person, saying that I thought they should cover their mouth with their hand when they cough. personally It wouldn't have bothered me at all, worse would have been someone sneezing, without any covering.
What got me, and what is still making me angry enough to reply here, was the way that he spoke loudly to his kid, for maybe 2 minutes, about how people should cover their mouths when they cough, to avoid the spread of germs, cold and flu. all that time I was trying to read, but getting more and more wound up about this, he clearly had a problem with me, but was going about resolving it in the wrong way, making conflict more likely not less.
I wonder what he would have said if he'd been me walking down Hamlet Court Road in Westcliff on Saturday, when a bloke virtually coughed in my face as we passed each other? I haven't dropped dead with some deadly virus yet, thank the Lord. Probably because I wasn't mollycoddled as a child and have thanfully got a working imunity system.
I don't think you committed a hanging offence, JonR.
This event was triggered by the fact you should have put you hand over you mouth to start with. I dont see what he did as rude. The conversation between him and his son had nothing to do with you really, the fact he was using you as an example to illustrate the correct protocol when coughing in your earshot upset you. Any acknowledgement from you on this conversation should have been along the lines "yes your father is right, sorry about that." What you actually did was challenge him in front of his son on something you were in the wrong about. Now that is rude.
that's an interesting point of view Oliver.
I suspect that had I not been hungover, and if I'd eaten breakfast that morning, then my reaction would have been different, but I'm fairly certain that I probably still would have coughed into my paper.
now if I'd have sneezed, then that would have been entirely different.
You might have asked him if the Metro was preferable to the Daily Mail or indeed page 3 of the Sun. If you had been reading the Sun you could have shown the child the germ droplets adhering strategically to the models body. Which may have started a whole new conversation.
I trust this did not happen in SE1 but somewhere much further south.