People should stop shaking hands from October until April. That’s preposterous, you might say, but some people seriously suggest it. That’s the sneezey season. People customarily grab their hanky or a tissue to cover their faces, if they’re fast enough, but as often as not wind up sneezing into their hands.
The medics tells us that cold and flu germs don’t do well in an airborne environment—they don’t spread so much by sneezes as people think. They spread mostly by touch. The germiest thing most people ever touch is a door knob in public buildings. Or by shaking hands with an already infected victim, who, as often as not, has recently sneezed into that hand. It may be inconvenient or impossible for them to wash that hand, even if the thought occurs to them.
So, there we have on the one hand—no pun intended—custom demanding a hearty handshake, or, on the other, a risk of social ostracism if you refuse. It would make life simpler, and healthier, they say, if people stopped shaking hands during that time of year. It happens to coincide with the change-over from daylight saving (no “s’) time to standard time. So, when October comes around you just say to yourself: “Well, it’s time to turn the clocks back, and stop shaking hands.”