Last week at an outdoor farmer’s market, I didn’t notice this hefty woman coming toward me until she was almost beside me. At the precise second I saw her, she ah-choooooed into her stubby hand. Her sneeze spewed sideways on me like a blast from a fire hose. No social distancing, no sneezing into her elbow, no mask. Oblivious, she lumbered on, enticed by the distant aroma of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, her hand saturated with sneeze goo.

She waddled over to the cinnamon roll booth, fondled her credit card with her wet, germy hand and pointed to the pastry of her desire. The bun lady took her credit card with a hand encased in a vinyl glove, which was instantly contaminated with a gazillion germs. Germs don’t care if they are on your hand or on your glove. They’re happy either way.

The bun lady gave back the credit card with some of the germs riding on it like a fun rollercoaster. Other germs made it onto the paper plate and cinnamon roll she handed to the sneezing lady. Some stayed on the bun- lady’s hand. They waited patiently on her glove, playing charades and canasta, not in any hurry because they had plenty of time (up to three days) to get to a person’s nose.

The lady of the billowing sneeze left, and a nice man in his twenties went up to the counter and asked for two sticky buns. The germs on the bun-lady’s glove slid onto two paper plates. They waved goodbye to their friends left behind on the glove and to the other germs that had hitched a ride on the young man’s credit card.

The young man took the sticky buns to his grandma – she loves those fresh baked buns but can’t go to the farmer’s market anymore because of the virus, so her nice grandson picked one up for her. Neither of them suspects that millions of germs are on their plates, and before long the germs are on granny’s hand. She had washed her hands before eating – at her age she has to be vigilant – but the pollen is just awful this year and without even thinking she rubbed her ticklish nose. The happy germs celebrate – they’re in! Soon they’ll be partying in granny’s lungs.

There’s no way to know what kind of germs that woman sneezed into her hand, whether they are harmless or just mild cold or flu bugs. But if they’re COVID-19’s, granny’s a goner. Death by sticky bun.

Remember when you were a kid and someone held out a beetle or salamander or crab and threatened to put it on you? Usually this was your older brother but it could have been a cousin or someone down the street. As soon as that brat came toward you, you took off running and screaming and crying for your mother.

Those people who believe the corona virus is just another flu, who think they’re strong enough to fight the virus, or, even scarier, say it’s just a conspiracy so they don’t need to practice social distancing or wear masks – they’re the brats now.

Maybe we should run and scream when these care-less people get too close. Or shout “PANDEMIC” like one of my friends does. They can get sick and die if they want to, but why take us with them? Believe what you want, people, but please keep your stupid germs to yourself.