Every time there is a flu outbreak in Hong Kong, the government’s health officials tell us to avoid crowded places, wash our hands, wear face masks if we feel unwell, and to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze. The government even has announcements on TV and radio reminding us to avoid crowded places. Now that there is a measles outbreak, government health officials are telling us to do the same. It always cracks me up when I see these announcements on TV advising me to avoid crowded places. The slang expression “cracks me up” means it makes me laugh a lot.
It cracks me up because it is impossible to avoid crowded places in Hong Kong. We are a tiny city with a population of 7.4 million people. Another 65 million tourists come to Hong Kong every year, most of them from the mainland. MTR trains are always crowded. The streets are always full. Shopping malls are crawling with people. The expression “crawling with” means filled with or full of. For example, forests are crawling with insects. The only way for Hong Kong people to avoid crowded places is to always stay home. Every time I use the MTR, people are coughing or sneezing. Most of them do not cover their mouths. Those who cover their mouths do it the wrong way, coughing into their hands instead of the crook of their arms.
The crook of the arm is the inside part of the arm at the elbow where it bends. People who cough into their hands spread their germs when they shake hands or touch things, such as doorknobs or MTR handrails. MTR trains are crawling with germs. Planes are also crawling with germs. Many studies show the dirtiest parts of a plane include the tray table, headrest, and seat belt buckle. Experts suggest that you should clean these parts with alcohol wipes. They also suggest that you use a scarf to cover your whole face for about 20 seconds if passengers near you cough or sneeze. I will follow this advice from now on.
每當香港有流感爆發，政府健康衞生部門的官員總是叫我們避免到人多擠逼的地方、要勤洗手、不適的時候要戴口罩，以及在咳嗽或打噴嚏的時候要掩着口鼻。政府甚至會在電視和電台作出呼籲，提醒我們要避開人多擠逼的地方。現在有麻疹爆發，政府衞生官員又叫我們做同樣的事。每當我見到電視上的呼籲，忠告我要避開人多擠逼的地方時，總是令我爆笑（cracks me up）。俚語cracks me up意即令我哈哈大笑。
它令我笑翻（cracks me up）是因為在香港，根本不可能避開人多擠逼的地方。我們住在狹小的城市內，有着七百四十萬人口，另外還加上每年六十五萬訪港的遊客，當中大部份來自中國內地。港鐵列車經常人滿為患；街道上總都是人；商場亦是擠滿了（crawling with）人。習語crawling with意即「充滿、擠滿」。例如，森林都滿是（crawling with）昆蟲。香港人可以避開人多擠逼地方的唯一方法，就是留在家中。每次我搭港鐵的時候，都有人在咳嗽又或打噴嚏，他們大部份都沒有掩口鼻。那些掩口的人又做錯了，總是咳進手掌中而非臂彎處（crook of their arms）。
The crook of the arm就是手肘的內側彎處。那些咳進手掌的人，當他們跟人握手又或觸碰門把或港鐵扶手等物件時，就會傳播細菌。港鐵車廂亦滿佈（crawling with）細菌。飛機也都滿是（crawling with）細菌。許多研究顯示，飛機機艙上最髒的地方包括餐枱、頭枕以及座位安全帶。專家建議你應該先用酒精消毒紙巾抹拭這些地方。他們也建議說，若你附近的乘客咳嗽或打噴嚏，你可用一條圍巾掩着自己的面部。我從今開始會遵從這個建議。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧