One of my students came to his lesson this evening with a cold. I'm not talking about a little sniffle or two. His voice was so hoarse it wasn't recognizable. His eyes were very red and his nose was running. It was a cold in its prime and he clearly wasn't in any condition to be speaking English for an hour.
Considering this cold developed two days ago, I don't understand why this student didn't contact the referral agency or me and ask to have his lesson rescheduled yesterday so that he could have attended when he was in better shape.
Even when he's in good health, this student can't keep his fingers off his nostrils and is a veritable fountain of projectile spit when he speaks. Today was rather worse as the impulse to touch his nose or wipe it with his hand then rub his hand on my sofa cover was something he couldn't resist doing with great frequency. Coughing with an open mouth was also the order of the evening. I pretty much wished I could have conducted the lesson from behind one of those white surgical masks that the Japanese are famous for wearing when they're sick.
Unfortunately, that wouldn't be polite so I positioned my chair about a foot further away than usual in case any excited spittle flew my way, moved my coffee cup as far away as possible, and resolved to wash my sofa cover the minute he left.
Since I always serve coffee at this man's lessons, I also had to deal with the cup. One thing I learned awhile back is that dish sponges carry and spread germs far more than people realize. This is because the sponges are used frequently enough that they rarely dry out entirely. I once read that office dish sponges are transporters of teaming swarms of germs because, not only are they used frequently but no one ever makes an effort to squeeze them out to help them dry overnight. However, I read that one way around this is to squeeze the sponge out and toss it in the microwave for a minute (update: in one of the comments, I've been told this takes 2-10 minutes - please read the comment by tito). This will cook the bacteria out and help the sponge to dry quickly.
What this student did reminded me of employees who go to work sick only to infect their coworkers. I realize that people often do this sort of thing with the best of intentions but it's very frustrating to be trapped in a closed room with someone who is sick and indifferent to protecting the other people in the room with him from his illness.