January Fevor
John Norberg, humor columnist s

Everyone is concerned about the economy today. We're going over the fiscal cliff, we've hit the debt ceiling, we're passing financial ruin onto our children and grandchildren.

And everyone has an idea how to save the day. We need to balance the budget, get housing going again, sell more cars. We need to get our country out of debt by convincing consumers to go into debt spending money on things they don't need.

But don't worry. This winter our economy is safe. And there is one and only one thing that is responsible for saving it.

The flu.

Huge numbers of Americans are coming down with the flu this winter and they are staggering into stores across our nation willing to pay anything for drugs that will help them – and thereby boost the economy.

Admit it. When you have the flu do you ask the doctor and pharmacist how much the drugs you need are going to cost? No. You will pay anything. You will gladly steal from your children's future for something that will help you through the flu.

Since Christmas Day I've had the flu, congestion, a sore throat, aches, pains, a runny nose and a cough that can wake the dead, which isn't a problem since there are not a lot of dead people around us.

What is a problem is that my cough keeps my wife awake.

Wife: "Do you realize you are coughing every 30 seconds? This is like sleeping next to a foghorn on a stormy night."

Me: "I need sympathy. I'm sick."

Wife: "I give you sympathy. And do you know what you're going to give me in return? The flu."

I keep finding new things to do on Facebook. Lately I've been communicating with friends all over the country who have the same symptoms I have. We're comparing prescriptions and trying to outdo each other with our misery. (Your eyes hurt? Oh yeah! Well every hair on my head hurts!)

People stay home for a while with this, but we can't stay away from the office forever. So at work all day I hear coughing, sneezing and wheezing emerging from the cubicles and offices.

Forget about barking dogs. We should record all our office coughs and wheezes to the tune of Jingle Bells and post it on YouTube. We have renamed our office the House of the Walking Dead.

I went to the drug store to get help.

Pharmacist: "How can I help you."

Me: "My body aches, by throats hurts, my chest is congested, I have a sinus headache, a runny nose, watery eyes, I can't sleep, I can't swallow, my ears are ringing, my eyes are watering, my stomach hurts and I've been sent to sleep in the basement. What do you recommend?"

Pharmacist: "Sleep, drink plenty of fluids, take a blanket with you to the basement, and stay away from me."

Me: "But you're a pharmacist."

Pharmacist: "Why didn't you come in here and stock up on drugs last summer when you were feeling great? You knew this was going to happen to you when winter arrived. But, no, instead of stocking up when you were healthy you waited and now you're coming in here giving me your germs. But I'll help. Our cold and flu stuff in aisle one."

Me: "Great."

Pharmacist: "It's also in aisles two, three, four, five and seven."

Me: "What do you have on aisle six?"

Pharmacist: "Whiskey."

Me: "I might start there."

It took me an hour to go down all the aisles of drugs. The shelves were filled with thousands of different pills and liquids. Some were labeled DM, some PE. What do DM and PE mean? Some contained guaifenesin and dextromethorphan or acetaminophen and diphenhydramine. Why can't drug companies speak English? The drug names sound worse than the diseases.

There were drugs that did the same thing manufactured by 10 different companies. How was I supposed to know what to take? I was too sick to figure this out.

The warnings said the drugs might ruin my liver, my heart, my kidneys and some other organs I didn't even know I had. One cautioned about sudden death.

Compared to the flu, sudden death didn't sound half bad.

I found something and I hoped it would work.

Pharmacist: "Have you thought about buying a Valentine's Day card for your wife?"

Me: "Valentine's Day is weeks away."

Pharmacist: "The way you look right now, I wouldn't put things off."

I went to pay, took out my credit card and got ready to move it through the card reader. But then I got to thinking: Sick people have been touching this card reader all day. I'm going to get germs from this.

And then I remembered: Wait a minute. I'm already sick. I already have germs. What do I care if I get a few more?

The only good thing about having the flu is you don't have worry about someone else making you sick.

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