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It’s Probably Nothing #7: Birth of a Virus

As I watched my neighbor put her dog’s poop in a single-use plastic baggy, I thought about split pants in China.

When my wife and I got off the plane, 18 years ago, to adopt our first daughter, we were taken aback by the split pants. Split pants are (or at least were, back then) pants the children wear that are open in the crotch area. That allows them to urinate or defecate unobstructed, onto the street or wherever they may be. The theory is that eventually they will learn to “aim it at the toilet” or something to that effect.

Either way, I distinctly remember my brand new Nike slip-ons (probably made not far from where I was standing) sloshing into a mix of urine and who knows what else, and continuing to do so for the next three weeks.

As I started feeling the cough coming on, I remember one of the women in our group saying, at one of the airports (as she too, stepped into urine) “The people in this country probably have built up antibodies inside them our bodies have never even thought about.”

I replayed that line in my head for the next three weeks, as I descended into night sweats, fevers and a cough like I’ve never experienced.

Over the next several days and weeks, we would experience the amazing culture of China, in several different cities. But some things stood out to this germophobic American. I watched a man hock up something from his chest and spit it on the floor, right next to us, in a restaurant. No oysters for me, thanks. I’ve suddenly lost my appetite.

We visited a Hutong (inner city – where the locals live) and saw raw chickens, skinned and bleeding, just laying on the floor, waiting to be thrown on a restaurant grill…for public consumption. No FDA or USDA or food inspectors or “codes” to comply with, here. But why? This is the last purely communist country on earth. You’d think there would be red tape everywhere. What was happening here?

Then, my wife and I had to rush our newly adopted, 8-month-old daughter to the public hospital…and suddenly it all started making sense.

As we stepped in more urine, took our number from the print-out machine, walked past the line of children whining and crying from the scalp IVs in their heads, then rushed to clean up blood and mucus (left by the last patient) on the plastic table they were now laying our baby on, then waited on the ONE overworked doctor (attending to no less than three hundred people) try to round up a basic anti-biotic to administer to my daughter (right there on site – no refills) it dawned on me what I was seeing and what I had been seeing this whole time. I wasn’t watching a “backward” culture or a third-world society. These people weren’t genetically inferior to first-worlders. They weren’t “less-evolved” than I was.

I was witnessing the kind of maximum, almost brutal efficiency a society must develop when the state is the master and the individual is merely a subject. Why would a Communist country not have an effective FDA? Because who are you going to complain to if you get tainted food? The government? They don’t answer to you. The press? They are owned by the government. And again, they don’t answer to you. …


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • OneGuy March 3, 2020, 8:17 AM

    Coming to a country very near you soon.

  • ghostsniper March 3, 2020, 8:56 AM

    (In the US) “This hospital was clean and sanitary, with highly trained people everywhere.”
    Oh really?
    I went to a major hospital for a blood draw.
    The female that attended me put on a new pair of purple gloves and immediately tore the end off the middle finger on her left hand. Then, with needle in right hand, she used that bare assed middle finger to palpitate my inner elbow for a proper target. Did she right then contaminate me with her own contagions or those from a previous patient that was carrying? That was 2 years ago and I ain’t dead so I guess not. But, what is the point of the gloves if not to prevent contagion to skin contact?

    Couple weeks later at an associated clinic I was getting an assessment from the previous blood draw and everything was cool. I asked the RN why the female had torn off the fingertip of the glove. She stared at me for a second then said, “Oh yeah, they do that so they can feel where the vein is. Does that bother you?” I told her that behavior undermined the purpose of the gloves and I was concerned. She asked if I knew the females name and I said no. She said if I didn’t have a name she couldn’t lodge a complaint.

    Your thought for the day: In my business there is a saying that is very true. “You can’t buy good construction, but you can supervise it.”

    What that means is, the next time I have to have a blood draw, since the hospital won’t let me do it myself, I will have to let one of their employees do it. If the employee tears off the glove finger I will need to tell them that I do not want them touching me with an ungloved finger. The ball will be in their court as I am busy “supervising”.

  • Former Lurker March 3, 2020, 9:27 AM

    And this is why I will never, ever visit countries like China, Cuba, anywhere in Africa or the middle east, etc. No thank you. Unfortunately, it is getting to the point where the beautiful cities of Europe are getting that way, too. Fortunately, I have been everywhere in Europe I have ever wanted to go several times before they started going down the toilet. Pretty soon I’ll be retiring to a cabin the mountains and just laughing at all the people that want to expose themselves to these third-world cultures and all that brings with it.

  • jwm March 3, 2020, 9:32 AM

    The TV stattions here in So Cal are running pedal to the metal with fear mongering. They’re doing their level best to start a panic. I’m hearing stories of panic buying in Costco, and Whole Foods. (go figure) Maybe one good thing will come out of this. Perhaps we can wise up, and stop depending on China for anything. I remember when Made-in-Japan was a running joke. Now, Made in Japan is a mark of excellence. The Japanese learned that if they produced quality, the quantity would take care of itself. The Chinese just figure quantity and more cheap quantity makes a faster buck. The Koreans are no better. Ask anyone who has purchased a Samsung appliance. (Guess how I know.) I’ll be glad if I see the day when we can disengage from China completely.


  • Julie March 3, 2020, 10:30 AM

    JWM, agreed on the news here. Coverage is completely over the top.

    Ghost, I’ve learned that the quality of blood draws depends a lot on the location, and how many people are there for drug testing. Don’t think I’ve ever had a tech remove part of their glove to feel for a vein, that’s just wrong. Had to have a couple draws the past couple of weeks, but all were very careful about keeping things clean.

  • James Graham March 3, 2020, 10:47 AM

    Write this down: If government does it government disappears.

  • Snakepit Kansas March 4, 2020, 4:30 AM

    I give blood platelets a handful times per year. I assumed all the gloved hands at the Red Cross were to keep possible blood cooties from the staff. Slightly off subject, but 90% of the platelet donor are older white guys. I’m one of them.

  • Dan Patterson March 4, 2020, 9:42 AM

    Ok Mister Regie’s Blog how about explaining why you traveled across the globe to snag a young member of the communist party. Why did you make such and effort, all the while wading in human excrement to do it? Why, except as a virtue brag and a notch on your “SaveTheWorldOpenBorderCircleofLife” totem pole? Did nobody tell you they SHIT IN THE STREET as a matter of course, yes, just like in San Fransico? You weren’t clued-in by the river of PISS running in the gutter? What, did you think that just because the Godless Fucks that run the asylum make TVs they sell at WalMart for 150 bucks well, hell Gladys, the GOTS to be mod-ren jist like us ‘mercains is?? Why make that trip except for your ego? Why, when within range of a .22 rifle from your indoor toilet there are dozens of heathen bastard kids that need a home and direction and love? Oh. I know. Because doing that that doesn’t qualify you for the “Look at me” merit badge bullshit. I get it.
    Your comments about single-payer etc are on the money and I thank you for that. But dude, wake the fuck up. It really took seeing a skinned chicken going from filthy pissed-on floor, to grill, to plate for you to understand the evil that is tyrannical dictatorship? The gent that spewed on the restaurant floor was normal for over there because that’s what the “amazing culture of China” has become. The elite care not about the sanitation of the masses, all they want is the labor. Fuck you and your sanitation. Figure that out for yourselves, peasant! And, by the way, the guard at the corner is recording both your conversation and your facial expressions. Go ahead and express yourself.

  • JW March 7, 2020, 7:31 PM

    Hello Dan. Have you ever tried to adopt a baby in America? Good luck. There are hundreds of potential parents begging for each of them.

    Adopt an older foster child? Not easy either. And they may be a bit odd. Like the one that a friend of mine fostered. She heard screaming and laughter upstairs, went up to see what was happening, and found the foster child drilling a hole through her five year old son’s hand with an electric drill. Luckily, he also did a video, so she had proof. Her son is now nearly insane.

    You are judging something you have very little knowledge of.

  • dan patterson March 8, 2020, 1:09 PM

    Very sad to read of your friends difficulties there’s nothing good about any of that.
    Now about your lecture to me about what I know and what I don’t know: Let’s not be so certain of our positions without more data shall we?