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The Ethics of Colds

By SHRUTI KUMTA, sophomore

As our hemisphere continues to tilt away from the sun, the warm, mellow summer freezes into autumn and winter. But the temperature isn’t the only thing that’s changing. People are changing, too. It’s The Congealment: when happy, sun-soaked individuals become snotty, menacing glaciers. Friends turn on friends, the innocent are targeted, and the entire population is consumed by its shadow.

So how can we defend ourselves and others from The Congealment’s greatest weapon: the heartless Cold? The valiant warriors in our blood (white blood cells, not your inner combatant) do their best to protect us, but how can we defend ourselves if they are overcome? By observing and applying “The Ethics of Colds,” of course, until you are healthy again. This unwritten code of conduct detailing proper sickness-etiquette for the public welfare has been written out for you below, in case you needed some advice this flu season.

Let’s begin with the first sign of having caught this dreaded cold: sneezing.

You don’t typically have much control over when you sneeze. But what you can control is where and how it is done. Imagine you’re sitting in class, attentively learning, when suddenly you just have to sneeze. What do you do? Turn to a side and do it? Look up and do it? Cover your nose and mouth, and make sure your germs don’t spread? The first option will earn you a dirty stare from the person who has been just sneezed on. If you pick the second, I applaud you. I myself have never been able to perform the feat. Now, if you select the third, you are one well-versed in “The Ethics of Colds.” Preventing your germs from spreading is an act in service of the greater good, a noble and righteous thing to do. Also, try to blow your nose as discreetly as possible and do be generous with the soap afterwards.

The second symptom is coughing.

Coughing and sneezing may have the same principles, but their length and therefore consequences differ. Imagine that you’re in class (again) and you know the answer to a question. You raise your hand, begin speaking after you are called on, and suddenly, your body feels the need to interrupt you with a cough. And another. And another. Now picture a fit of coughing erupting as your teacher gives details about an upcoming test. Now you’re in the middle of that presentation worth 50% of your grade. A badly timed cough has turned from an annoyance to the downfall of your report card. For this, all that can be said is: cover your mouth and get well soon because water, the savior, is so conveniently banned, and cough drops are no longer of any use (even Halls Extra Strong).

The same code can be applied regarding the third symptom that more often than not comes with colds: bad moods. Beware, for they are very contagious, and they affect both the infected and those in their vicinity. They cause fights, start arguments, and transform the most lovable people into monsters. Bad moods are, perhaps, more dangerous than any of the physical discomforts caused by the cold.

For those who have already been infected or are terrified and want to protect themselves from these unforgiving germs and tempers, carrying around tissues, hand sanitizer, and, if you feel the need, a restraining order, are good ideas.

Although the horrors of the Cold may be out of our control, we must take the initiative to prevent it from disturbing and spreading to others… especially before it evolves into the dreadful Flu. So, my dear readers, let us vow to not let The Congealment get the best of us but to make the best of The Congealment. We have the power to overwhelm its dark forces and stubbornly enjoy the snow and the holidays as long as we abide by “The Ethics of Colds.” Together, we can make the world a better place this winter.

(Featured image from

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