About two weeks ago, concern over H1N1 reached a peak in Beijing. While Tian’s school staff was offered vaccines, our staff got only a low-budget email giving common sense advice for how to avoid it. On the list were things like sneeze into your sleeve, don’t shake hands with sick people, and don’t come to school if you are sick.
The point that got the most laughs around the office, however, was the most basic: WASH YOUR HANDS. We all got a kick out of this one because there is no hot water for washing, no hand soap, and no hand drying tools in any of the buildings bathrooms. Everyone resorts to hand sanitizer, rinsing with cold water, air drying, using your clothes or some combination of the above. Their email was analogous to a teacher giving students instructions for an assignment but none of the necessary materials.
My officemate courageously pointed this out to the administration. He requested on behalf of the staff, that the school supply soap in the staff bathroom to help us implement their advice and prevent the spread of H1N1. Remarkably, they actually took him up on it. So we now have hand soap in the staff bathroom, a much appreciated addition.
While this was a sweet victory, the soap supply is now getting low for the first time. It remains to be seen if we will be treated to a second bottle of hand soap when this one runs out. Only time will tell…