Thursday, January 16, 1997
January: Days of whine and noses

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

There are many wonderful things about Cincinnati.

January is not one of them.

This is the month when everybody seems to be sneezing or whining. I, myself, being extremely versatile, am doing both.

Last year was bad enough. Cold. Snow. More cold. More snow. Schools were canceled, meetings postponed. The power went out. Pipes froze. Roofs collapsed. But this year has been almost worse. Dishonest. A tease.

It's really warm. No, it's really cold. It's going to snow. No, that will be freezing rain. Or just rain. Or just freezing.

If you want my advice (and there is no reason why you would), I'd say we'd all feel better if we took a trip. Instead of sniveling about the weather or our sinuses, let's just get out of town.

No amount of wishing is going to change the natural course of events. It's January. It's cold. It's wet one day, icy the next. And just to keep it interesting, this is the season when everybody is sick.

The working cold

Germs are spread, as most of us know, by children and management. Children cannot help themselves. They are just little breeding centers for colds and flu, walking petri dishes.

Anybody who has a child is sick most of the winter because we eat things that they discard. Also, we cannot help hugging and kissing them, even if their noses are runny. Then our noses are runny.

Those of us who are not infected by children are infected by our bosses. These people (and I think you know who you are) come crawling in to work, sick as dogs. They are scared to death that if they stay at home with their germs that the rest of us will get the idea that we can do the same thing.

All day long they hide in their offices, probably with their feet up watching the The Young and the Restless and drinking orange juice. They come out only occasionally so that we can see them - troopers, on the job despite their ill health. And the clear implication is that they are setting the example for the rest of us.

Every once in a while they stick their heads into your cubicle to sneeze. Pretty soon everybody is sick.

By then, management is at a conference in Aruba.

So, as I say, I would recommend a trip. But unless you have a company with an extremely liberal vacation policy, you will have to come back here while it's still cold. So my advice is to go someplace worse. May I suggest Billings, Mont.?

There you will find subzero temperatures and about 7 inches of snow. You can entertain the natives with tales of a city that panics and hurls salt all over itself at the prospect of what they might regard as mild precipitation.

Perfectly seasoned

Yes, Billings would be perfect. You should have no trouble finding a good parking space. Even people in Billings are leaving Billings. A woman from the Chamber of Commerce there told me that everybody she knows is getting out of town to go skiing in Bozeman or Red Lodge.

After a trip out West, when you get back here, you'll be grateful for a city that regards 2 inches of snow as a dangerous blizzard, 2 1/2 as ''white death.''

You will rediscover the charm of a city that rallies at the news of impending winter precipitation by running out and buying up all the available bread.

It would be a serious mistake to squander your precious vacation time on, say, Naples, Fla., which is loaded with Cincinnati people. Temperatures there right now are in the high 60s and low 70s.

So, if you go there, you'll start feeling right at home; then, the next thing you know it will be time to come back to the real Cincinnati and it will be just as cold as it was when you left.

But it will feel worse.

So, if I were you I would get through this January in the time-honored Cincinnati tradition of worrying about snow that never materializes and buying up bread when it does. Or I would travel to Billings.

If management says you can't have the time off, tell your boss you are packing a can of Lysol, and you're not afraid to use it.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio, and as a regular commentator on NPR's Morning Edition.