Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not Typical

I'm trying to keep up a mini-theme here. I keep adding to the list. This Typical/Not Typical thing was meant to be one brilliant and incisive post, but the contexts keep adding up, plus I have to rant, right? Or else who would bother reading?

I'll start, then, with something that isn't typical, but I guarantee it's going to turn into a rant wherein I marvel at the senselessness of something, then feel like an asshole because not fitting in is probably mostly my own fault anyway.

Not Typical
Not typical is this public service announcement about swine flu I saw on TV a few months back. In it was a dorky kid whom, if I'd been his age, I would have wanted to punch, much like I want to punch all the kids on Barney (which, thankfully, they don't have here as far as I know). The dorky kid said "I don't touch my my eyes, nose or mouth." The hell you don't. You're 8. You probably touch your butt a lot too.

Anyway, there were some other people in the PSA showing or telling the precautions they take to avoid illness, like washing hands after using the toilet, and not coughing on other people.

Then, the most wonderful thing happened. The final part of the commercial showed a woman, get this! OPENING HER WINDOW TO LET OUTSIDE AIR INTO THE HOUSE. The very house where she was living! With the air from the outside! Fearlessly! The voiceover said, "Air out your surroundings."

I nearly had a heart attack.

But then, everything goes back to:

Typical: A Crisis!
Typical is that swine flu is the latest Crisis! taking the lead over that boring old Economic Crisis! that's been clogging the airways for a few months now. According to the media, swine flu is everywhere. It's 100% fatal, and it's waiting to get you. I went to a woman tea party at my neighbor's house the other day (yeah, that's right. I bit the bullet and went. The gesture of inviting me was so sweet that I forced myself to stop mentally composing the post about how they talked about zayıflama [weight loss, or losing centimeters with the latest snake oil treatment that makes you thin without diet or exercise] for 2 hours and I'm not exaggerating), and everyone made a point of not kissing anyone else because of pig flu. Or rather, there were those who made a point of not kissing while others made a point of kissing while vocally throwing caution to the wind about pig flu. On Tuesday I got the surprise announcement from LE's school that Friday was cancelled in addition to the Cumhuriyet Bayramı (Republic Day) holiday on Thursday. They went ahead and had a surprise half day off on Wednesday too, just for shits and giggles.

The official reason given for the Friday holiday was because they needed to sanitize the schools. Eh? Is there some other pandemic going around? One caused by a virus that lives for longer than a few hours outside the human body?

My snarky take on all this is that Friday's "sanitizing" holiday is a crock of shit that is also a win-win edict for our politicians. They get to look like they're doing something decisive about the Certain Death From Unclean Western Pigs that's waiting to get us. They get to make lots of people happy by giving an extra day off without looking like they've caved to Communists or other workers' rights undesirables. They get to surprise everyone with their wonderfulness when in fact they probably had it in the works for weeks.

Yet, true to religious conservative form, they failed to take reality into account. Like, for example, all those people with jobs who had to arrange for sudden and surprising childcare. Every household here is from Leave It To Beaver in the government's eyes. Granted, I work at home but I usually plan my deadlines a week ahead and suddenly I've lost a full day and half of work time. And what about all the women women who have "real" jobs where they can't suddenly take time off for surprise school holidays? There are a lot more of them here than popular culture would have us believe. The profound, paternalistic stupidity of it has had me seething for days.

Gotta love a Crisis! BE is furious with me for not being swept up in the panic. His mother has all but forgotten the dangers of Nazar in favor of calling BE to tell him to tell me I shouldn't kiss my son because of swine flu. BE triumphantly came home the other night to tell me one of his barbers was hospitalized with swine flu. This sounds very dire, except in Turkey you don't go to your GP's office when you're sick, you go to the hospital. And both barbers were working today so I guess he lived through his ordeal.

I pretty much ignore the news, especially Turkish news. I'm sure people are dropping like flies all over the country. I'm sure every case of the sniffles is being reported as swine flu, and I'd hazard a guess that any remaining pig farmers who survived the "Let's tax pig farmers unreasonably and put them out of business, but really we're quite secular" sweep are being more vilified than ever before.

Yet, I'm sure we'll survive the latest Crisis! somehow. And anyway, it's getting cold enough for the heaters to go on, which means the next Snow Crisis! can't be far off and then everyone will forget about it.


siobhan said...

'Certain death from unclean western pigs', lol. I knew you'd have a better slant on it than me

Jackie said...

So funny you wrote this post, on the bus this morning a group of women got on with those face masks that construction workers usually wear when sawing wood. A little extreme, don't you think??

Stranger said...

They're selling surgical masks at our bakkal.

Vicky, Bursa said...

Great post (and meant to post ages ago that I had missed your posts in your postless period). I had a huge argument with my husband the other night as I ridiculed the notion that closing the schools for 4 days to disinfect was useless as the virus can't live more than a few hours outside the human body, and anyway all the kids would be playing together at home so what was the point. Bless my lovely brainwashed husband, but he got very heated saying why did I keep telling him this, am I more knowledgeable than the scientists and doctors who recommended this course of action. Well, yes, actually, I guess I am, if indeed doctors or scientists were consulted in what was obviously a political PR stunt. I also loved the fact that although the kids classes at the language school where I work were cancelled for the 'cleaning', the adult classes continued as normal. So nothing special happened here - no special cleaning and who's to check anyway?

The non kising thing is, for me, a Good Thing, although everyone at our market seems to ignore it - doesn't seem to apply to cute babies - they just can't help themselves. Instead of standing there helplessly annoyed yet not saying anything, I'm relishing the chance to say 'please don't touch or kiss my baby, swine flu!' and see them leap back.

Vicky, Bursa said...

forgot to say, at our local pharmacies, the cost of antibacterial hand wash has jumped from around 2 tl to 5tl!! money grabbing opportunists!!!

Also, although I had been discussing stopping strangers touching and kissing Deniz, to which she wholeheartedly agreed, she didn't think any of taking Deniz to her neighbours'whilst I was working where there were 12 people hugging and kissing him. So, if you know the person then you can't catch anything from them, no?

vicky, Bursa said...

ooops- the she to whom I refer is of course my mother in law.

Stranger said...

I figured you meant MIL. Mine paid a lot of lip service to my insane notion that every passing baby lover shouldn't be allowed to kiss newborn LE's hands and face, or put his hands and feet in their mouths, as they do.

But inviting 20 people over to all give him as many germs as they wanted when he was 3 days old? No problem, even if they're visibly ill, because we know them.

Once I told my MIL that there were billions of mikrop on hers and everyone else's mouth. She was bemused and then got mad and then probably snuck off to wash.

Anonymous said...

The backdrop to all this is an unrequited rage against Gallant of "Goofus and Gallant" fame.

Stranger said...

That's probably true. Jerky Gallant.

mamagonekrazi said...

Turks value crisis as it gives them a reason not to think about their personal tragedies! It is a national bonding moment right about now i bet. Forgetting where the country is headed with all the new political choices they have made, swine flu is in fact a saviour that is going to cover their real problems for the time being. So of course swine flu is a big deal!!!

The fear factor is very widespread in the U.S as well, however it creates a different effect. While in turkey people bond over it, here people get isolated from each other even more. Not sure which way is the way to go, but I thought it is an interesting observation.

mamagonekrazi said...

And oh yes! if it is the people whom you know that are doing the kissing and touching or the smoking for that matter, viruses and hazardous things magically turn into a fluffy immune boosting thing.

I remember how many times I had to fight with people over why they can not smoke next to my pregnant sister or my kids or why they shouldnt babies. When I visited my mum with my 4 month old twins close to two years ago, some random guy ina grocery store saw my daughter and came running towards us and kissed her on the lips, I was so bummed that I froze. she was hanging over me in one of those baby bjorks facing out, so he caught us unprepared!!! And guess what the next day she got throat infection then her twin brother got it and we had to stay at the hospital under nebulizers for kids to be able to breath till they got better.

We certainly have a lot to sit and think about when it comes to respecting other people's space.

Stranger said...

My midwife recommended a front holder sling or Baby Bjorn for exactly the purpose of keeping strangers off the baby, with the reasoning that the baby would be close enough to your breasts most people would keep their hands and faces away.

Most people.

If it's any consolation, the man who kissed your baby probably wasn't the one who made the kids sick. If they got sick the next day, it means they most likely were already infected. The consolation is that man probably got really sick from some virulent kid germs. Hah!

I'm not sure Turks use a Crisis! to avoid their own personal problems. I think the government and media take advantage of every small thing to draw people's attention away from the deeper more serious problems in this country, and from their insidious policy decisions. It's just one big dog wagging here.