With school back in session but swine flu vaccine not yet available and various reports suggesting high fatalities from H1N1 while others say there is nothing to worry about, a New York Times reporter took to the streets wearing a $69 suit called the Pandemic Emergency Defense System manufactured by Flu Armour to gauge public reaction.
"On the subway, passengers were careful not to stare (at least not while they thought I could see), though when the doors opened at Penn Station, people waiting on the platform rushed to the next car.
At that point, I thought I really might pass out. It wasn’t the embarrassment. It was the mask, which seemed to be filtering out all the oxygen. My goggles were completely fogged up and my paper outfit was working like the foil wrap on a baked potato. After a few stops, I escaped aboveground, found a bench on Broadway and caught my breath.
From 30 yards away, an older woman fixed me in her sights. She started walking toward me, stopping every few steps to stare, hard. Then she’d walk closer. And stare. Finally, standing right in front of me, she uttered one withering question: “Is this for any reason?”