Ever wonder why people say “God bless you” when someone sneezes? Is this stupid or what? Even total strangers will jump in to do this.
When I sneeze, it is absolutely nobody else’s business-unless I sneeze on them. Which I don’t. I try to make my sneezes as discreet as possible. I’m a quiet sneezer; I always cover my mouth and look away to hide it. I don’t want someone blessing me, because I don’t want to then be under the social expectation of connecting with some stranger about something that just happened to my body. Like I said, it’s none of their business.
When I’m in public or at the gym or wherever, I’m not always in the mood to connect with a stranger, and just because I sneeze, this doesn’t mean I’m inviting strangers to comment to me. So when I sneeze, and someone says, “Bless you,” I pretend I didn’t hear them.
I once worked with mentally retarded adults as a job coach. One of the clients was a 24-year-old named David. The other job coach one day sneezed. David was clear down the corridor in the hospital where he was learning janitorial skills. He yelled, from all the way down the corridor, “Bless you!” The other job coach promptly pointed out how inappropriate that was. And he was right. It was inappropriate, and…it’s something that many “normal” people do all the time!
Like Theresa, a woman who worked in the office I used to work in before I figured out how to make a living writing out of my home. One day I sneezed. I kept on working like nothing happened. But she started turning around, wondering who had sneezed. I kept my eyes on my computer, wondering when she was going to give up.
“Who sneezed?” She asked. “I want to bless them.” Nobody seemed to know it had been me. I continued working, wondering why Theresa was letting something like this interrupt her work. “Who just sneezed?” She asked again. What a dope. She never found out, of course.
Do people think they are so special that they can “bless” someone? Do they think they have divine attributes? Notice that “God bless you” often becomes just a “Bless you.” Nobody can bless me. Nobody has that power.
And I don’t need to be blessed just because I sneeze. When an person chokes on food, that’s when it’s time to say “God bless you.” They really need it. Or when a person stubs a toe or bangs a knee into a piece of furniture, that’s when you should “bless” someone. Or if a person erupts into a coughing spell. But a sneeze?
Some people enjoy the attention that their sneezes generate. I’ve learned that the loudness of a person’s sneeze is directly proportional to the number of people within earshot! This is so true! A person will bellow out a 120-decibel sneeze if there’s a lot of people around. But if this clown is the only person in the room, his sneeze won’t be nearly as loud. People who create eardrum-splitting sneezes for attention are very immature and childish, not the kind of person I want to hang around. They are rude.
If I can keep my sneezes subdued, why can’t other people? Of course, a quiet sneeze won’t guarantee no attention, such as in the case of Theresa the Sneeze Warden. Bottom line is this: When a person sneezes, it’s none of your business-unless he or she is your child-in which case, you want to be sure he’s not coming down with a viral infection. But if anyone else sneezes, can’t you just ignore it?