A cold - valid excuse?

A good friend is staying temporarily at my place and we’re sharing the shopping and cooking. It’s her turn to do it today, but she says she can’t because she has a cold.

These are the details:

1.She does have a miserable cold. Your average blocked nose snotty thing. No fever or stomach symptoms involved AFAIK.

2.Great veg shop is 2 mins across the road and nearby are a Turkish grocers, a petrol station with some amount of supplies and a butcher’s.

2a.I’m working full time. By the time I get home I will not have the option of these nearby local shops as they will have closed and will have to go to a further away and IMO more fussy supermarket instead. She’s student and does have that option.

3.Weather here is about 15C, some patchy cloud and moderate wind.
Do you, oh Dopers, think a cold is a good enough excuse to get out of cooking and shopping duty here? Please bear in mind that I’m such a meanie that I wouldn’t do it for her as a favour. In fact, I would more than likely not have minded doing this if she had said something like “Pookah, I’m just feeling low, would you mind terribly if you did the shopping run this time?”. What she’s saying though, is that she cannot be expected to do this. I say she would rather not and should be honest about that. What do you think about this little petty argument? If you want you can also add what you would actually do in my situation.

I currently have a cold. When I get home I just want to open a can of soup and heat in the microwave. Shopping wouldn’t be a huge deal, but I don’t really want sick people preparing my food. I guess in a few days you can tell us how you feel about doing these things with a cold. :wink:
FWIW, my cold has been not extreme but not really mild, with some fluctuations in perceived temperature (feels hot, then cold in the same room).

Hmmm…Good friend…house guest…miserable cold. You’re doing dinner in my book.
IIRC 15C is about 50F, which can be a little chilly. I assume that the local stores involve walking, which is never fun with a head full of snot. And sick people should stay home so as not to contaminate the rest of us. Suck it up and if you must, make her make an extra dinner when she feels better. If it were me, I would have volunteered to make dinner and insisted that she stay home and have a nice cup of tea.


She should not do the grocery shopping with a cold. I don’t say this out of consideration of how bad your friend feels. She should stay out of situations where she might pass her cold on to other people. It’s not a good idea for someone with a head full of congestion to be buying food in a grocery store, where she might cause some 15 other people to get the same annoying cold.

My vote - she ought not, and should not, do the grocery shopping.

I agree with what previous posters have said.
If she’s got a cold, it will be mildly unpleasant for everyone if she goes out. It sounds as if she appreciates your hospitality, and would normally help.

If this situation makes you resentful, you need to consider how good a friend she is and what assumptions you make about such house guests,

It just doesn’t really seem to be something worth arguing over to me. Just as long as things get back on track after the cold is over, I don’t see why you can’t take over for now.

Then again, that’s just what I would do.

I think a pretty shitty cold is reason enough to avoid going out, potentially spreading the illness, and doing the cooking. I wouldn’t want to cook for someone else if I had a cold, not only for the reason of feeling bad, but also for the reason of spreading the illness through the food.

I feel squidgy about snotty colds and grocery shopping. Especially with a cart. Ack.

First off: I will be cooking and shopping for the dinner and that’s actually no big deal.

Perhaps I should have phrased the OP more clearly, but what irked me was that I got a text message saying “Sorry, can’t do the shopping, have a cold”. And cold doesn’t come in the “can’t” category in my view. “Can’t do the shopping, broke my leg” is okay, “Can’t do the shopping, car broke down” is okay when you live far away from the shop etc.

Having a cold, to me, fits into the category of making it less fun but by no means impossible task to go to shops two minutes up the road. Some people in the office have the same cold and they manage to work full days. The friend in question managed to meet a friend for lunch for a couple of hours with this cold. So bearing that in mind the phrasing should have been “I feel lousy and therefore don’t feel like shopping - would you mind doing it for me?”. Which I would gladly do for a friend.

Neither of us had considered the issue of spreading the cold. If its that contagious I will probably be punished for my grouchiness shortly and be sending my friend out to the shops to get Lemsip. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure why, but I found that terribly amusing.

I can understand why you would want reasoning other than “I have a cold”, but it seems that it boils down to the same message. Your friend felt like shit. It would of been nice for the friend to throw in “Could you please do it for me instead?” as courtesy, but sometimes people drop that when it comes to cumbersome text messages.

See, in my house no one who is ill cooks. Don’t wanna give it to the people who are eating, right?

A cold never seems to be a terrible thing unless you are affected by it. Then you nose would sometimes feel like a volcano, sometimes like a leaking tap, and sometimes like a backed-up toilet bowl. Tissues, tissues, everywhere, but never even a tonne can satisfy the flood that is even now issuing from your nostrils. Pretty soon, your nose will grow a healthy pink, then to a dangerous red, as you rub with it, again and again, with tissue and handerchief.

Unless it’s life threatening (like I am going to starve to death), I would not haul my ass downstairs for anything.


If you have a cold, it is polite to try not to pass it opn to others, so not shopping more than hecessary is a good idea. I don’t want anyone sneezing in the produce isle thank you very much if they can possibly help it. She should be able to help with the cooking though. As you are sharing the house you are pretty much in contact with her viral spores allready so I doubt her helping cook would much modify your chance of getting the same cold.

I’d text message her back saying ‘You have a cold? Please clear out before I get home.’

Although her phrasing seems to be what’s bothering you, you might want to consider cutting her some slack in that regard, too. I know when my head is full of goop I tend to be a bit groggy and can be more blunt than normal in my phrasing.

I’ll tell you one reason I wouldn’t want someone with a cold cooking dinner for me - with a stuffed up nose, your sense of taste goes all screwy.

(And I won’t say how I feel about people who would work 2 days in the office with a miserable cold - I’ll keep those words to myself to use while I’m laid up on the couch with the cold I caught from them.)

I think the fact that it was a text message might be the key here. Let’s face it, it takes a lot more words to be apologetic and polite than to just say Can’t shop. Got cold.

Depends on what the sufferer means by a ‘cold’. It may range from mild stuffiness due to allergens or smoke exposure, to viral double pneumonia. Or worse.

A nasty upper respiratory infection by one of the standard viruses lasts 7-12 days, and quite often makes for 2 or 3 days where the symptoms may be so severe (usually from a cough so bad it may induce vomiting) that doing ADL’s like shopping, while possible, is really not smart.

On the other hand, if they’re saying “I think I might be coming down with something, my throat tingles and I sneezed once, I’d better stay home and not help you” then I’d be a bit suspect.

I completely agree that she could have phrased her refusal more politely in this manner…but trust me, you really don’t want her to shop/cook for you if she has a cold. You’re likely enough to get it as is if she’s living in your home. (Also don’t encourage her to wash your dishes…) Nor do you want her traipsing out to the grocery store, handling the greens, and giving half the population of [checks Pookah’s location] Ireland her cold.

We should all endeavor to be as polite as we possibly can, of course, but it’s always nice if those of us in good health at the moment can cut the sickies some slack.

The same cold doesn’t always affect everyone the same way. It has happened quite often in the past that a cold got passed around my family–almost always, it would take my mom and my brother a couple relatively painless days to get it and be done with it, whereas my dad and sister and I would have it for 1-3 weeks, usually with a couple days when we were pretty much incapacitated. It’s quite possible that she caught it from them and it’s taking a greater toll on her.

Health care workers are trying to discourage that very thing. You may be able to do that without much problem, but many of the people that your cold is eventually spread to may develop severe respiratory problems.

Play nice.