Organizers of this year's Boston Seafood Show are recommending a "no handshake, no physical contact" policy for show attendees, fearing the potential for a mass coronavirus outbreak decimating the US seafood sector.
The announcement likely induced a palm-sweating anxiety in the most confident of seafood execs. But no fear, I have a few thoughts I have put together on how to overcome this most un-American of situations.
Firstly, THANK GOD. Ever since a colleague of mine told me that he reckons 80 percent of men don't wash their hands after using the bathroom, the old pressing of the flesh has seemed less convivial.
And it's not just men, apparently. The fairer sex also carries more than its quota of gifts, so don't think you're safe to freely touch women (this is also probably a rule to more generally live by).
Ruling out handshakes introduces a whole new playing field in the seafood industry. In the "challenges" department, it allows those weak hand shakers to roam freely under the pretense of being decent, trustworthy human beings, their limp hands and limp souls undetected until you've already bought 3,000 tons of shrimp off them.
On the plus side, you can avoid those that appear to want to hold your hand forever while they talk very close to your face, their vice-like grip draining your resolve to pass up that extra container of tilapia fillets.
The situation also presents some exciting new opportunities for greetings:
- "Air-shaking." Think of air-kissing and just do the same with your hand, preferably delivering it with the same flair and pretension of us Europeans. "Oh, daaaaaarling. So wonderful to see you! Ciao ciao!" (shake your hand parallel to but NOT TOUCHING the other person's hand).
- A dance. Stick with me. This is an idea I am increasingly drawn to. Think the New Zealand rugby team's haka, although this would likely take some pre-organization and is probably less effective as an individual. Alternatively, if you have a teenager in the house, they can point you in the right direction on Tik Tok. This one seems particularly apt if you can master it in time.
- Juggling. Three bottles of hand sanitizer. Bam!
- Verbal communication. Using words are also of course a possibility. Not everything in life has to be physical. My god, STOP TOUCHING PEOPLE!
- An animal call of some kind. Pick one you identify with the most. No, not a fish. They make no noise. And warning: If you choose to roar, you better have some bloody good seafood to follow it up with. Bird song might be safer -- a little cheerful blackbird whistling or a gentle dove coo -- something that says "I'm here, I'm upbeat, but I'm not an ****hole."
Of course none of these help deal, necessarily, with the rogue, rebel hand-shaker. You know, the guy who doesn't follow rules, ignored the email, rebuts the nanny state, TOUCHES PEOPLE.
Take a minute. Who will it be?
Yeah, it's that guy. He likely has his polo shirt unbuttoned just one button too many and wears hiking boots with his chinos.
- First line of action: Avoid him.
- Second: Attempt to force one of the above alternative greetings on him as he reaches out his hand.
- Third: This is really only to be used if he is literally about to make skin contact: SCREAM. LOUDLY.
It may seem extreme, but he likely has an immune system stronger than an ox and is a silent carrier of not just coronavirus but all kinds of other contagious diseases.
When it's all said and done, what is a moment of mild humiliation in the halls of a Boston exhibition center in exchange for a lifetime of seafood business joy?
Whatever you choose (animal call please, please, please), remember everyone: Don't let a seafood deal cost you your life.