While I was waiting for a drink at a coffee shop, I saw a food-service worker cough into her latex-gloved hand, then continue making a sandwich. I was appalled and called out to her to change gloves. She looked at me blankly, then continued making the sandwich. I repeated my charge, and the store manager mumbled that she hadn’t coughed into her hand. I decided I’d made my point and left the shop. Was it my business to pursue this matter? —STEVE
I totally get your hygienic fantasy that food-service workers will never bring their hands near their mouths or any surface with germs on it for hours at a stretch. (The alternative is gross!) I hope they try their best to change their gloves if they do, but they’re only human. And the risk of getting illnesses such as Covid-19 from a sandwich prepared by a coughed-on glove is relatively low. It’s probably not productive, though, to shout accusations at workers from across the room. Next time, approach the worker or her supervisor directly and share your concern privately. Because it’s also in our nature to protect ourselves from public humiliation and shaming.
—Adapted from “Social Q’s” in The New York Times Magazine