It's about time... / by vanessa

***Warning: Nasty inferences ahead. (Put down your bagel.)***

Back in the days when Dre, Alo, and I all worked together in Austin, we were members of a self-appointed guard whose mission it was to report on the poor bathroom hygiene habits of our co-workers. I'll spare you the moniker we gave, but suffice it to explain that we all knew who our second degree (i.e. No. 1) and first degree (especially egregious) offenders were, male and female. Each of us has flushed toilets with our shoes and opened door handles with our sleeves ever since.

Which is why I'm happy to report that Swine Flu has an upside! On the door of every stall in my current workplace, there is a sticker reminding people to wash their hands to prevent disease. (This place gets extra points since they also have rhyming reminders encouraging people to flush.) The stickers are a new addition ushered in as a result of the swine flu epidemic. For this, I am grateful.

I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I do find it curious that it took pigs to inspire a nation-wide hand-washing campaign. Where was the warning and hysteria when those cute little sparrows were dropping precious death on unsuspecting Asians?

The disparity continues. Notice the difference between the names. What would you rather have? SWINE flu which drums up images of fat, mangy beasts who've never heard of plastic surgery, or AVIAN flu? Avian. It could be bottled French water or a spa treatment. Like you caught a cold while jetting to South America for a tan.

Do pigs deserve their typecast, or are they the victims of smear? (Pun unintended, but I am pleased with the imagery.) How did birds get such a clean rap? (Okay, I'll stop.) If I were a pig, I'd be pissed. Pigs at least contain their mess to a pen. Birds, on the other hand, have never met a shaded sidewalk or a windshield they didn't love. You will never see a pig relieving himself on your shoulder. Birds?? Well they'd just as soon drop on you as look at you.

I'm pretty sure the reputation of the pigs can be reduced to a PR issue. They could probably fade into obscurity again if they could swap out the brutish snout for a petite aquiline beak or hook a celebrity spokesperson. Until that time, I'm totally cool with the fear-mongering as long as people keep washing their hands.