I’ve mentioned before that I work in Downtown Louisville, and we recently had an Omni Hotel open nearby my work with a UPS store inside of it. It’s very fancy inside, and so a lot of my co-workers enjoy going there for meetings or to “WFO” we like to say, just to escape our cubicles for a while or if there aren’t any work meeting rooms available. I am always cautious when there, and scoping out if anyone is eating around me, so I don’t escape to the Omni as often as others do. They have a whole grocery store area full of baked goods, ice cream, and peanut candies, but their sitting area is quite a distance from all that and normally no one is eating in there.
The other day I had a UPS package to return and figured I would go to the Omni to return it since it’s closest to me. There was clearly a conference going on, there were a lot more people than usual, and as I made my way up the escalator, I noticed a lot of food related booths and people eating. I figured I would get to the top of the escalator (which suddenly felt like it was moving very slowly) and make a beeline to the UPS store on the other side of these crowds of people. I held my breath and made a quick walk past the people and finally was able to let my breath out where there wasn’t anyone besides two people talking with water bottles in their hands. I was almost to the UPS store when I took a quick glance, no more than a second, into an empty conference room where I saw there was some type of peanut butter & jelly sandwich making contest about to take place. I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of photos once I realized the gallon-sized jars of peanut butter weren’t yet open:
I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a restaurant franchising and innovation summit, and this was set up for an activity they were doing! It just emphasized that it is good I always take note of my surroundings. Had I been there 30 minutes later when this PB&J activity began, it would’ve been a different story and a potential reaction!
I ran into the UPS store, and then left down the escalator as quickly as possible. I noticed it wasn’t peanut food that I could see or smell, but I did check in with myself once I got back outside the building to see how I was feeling. I checked in with my breath, how my lips/face felt, and I went ahead and took a precautionary alavert tablet. I felt a little freaked out, but ultimately I didn’t have any signs of an allergic reaction the rest of the day.
I thought to myself, what are the chances of me stumbling upon this type of event, how rare is this?! But the reality set in and I knew it wasn’t rare. Peanuts and peanut ingredients are common, especially in hotels and at events and conferences. I used to walk inside at the Hyatt hotel to get some exercise in the winter months– I got this idea from people at my work who recommended it, but often my lip would swell afterwards and I would get a dry, itchy throat and have to take allergy medicine. For a few walks I couldn’t tell why this was happening, but assumed there must’ve been something peanut-related in the air that I wasn’t seeing. I looked around for food and never saw anything, but one day noticed they had a bunch of food out for catering conference rooms there tucked back in hallways. Once I noticed those, I would check the food I saw out, and it didn’t look peanut-y, it was normally all savory, but then one day I caught a glimpse of peanut butter labeled cookies and another dessert clearly topped with a mound of chopped peanuts, and so I’ve avoided going there ever since. I knew once I felt itchy a few times it was not a coincidence, and I should’ve trusted that there were peanut products around, but I enjoyed walking with co-workers and stretching my legs. Now I just bundle up and walk outside in the winter, or do yoga in a conference room.
I’m sure I will probably go back to that Omni UPS store, and sit in their lounge area, but I will be extra cautious knowing events like this take place and could be contaminating the air, the furniture, tables, the door handles, escalator grip, restrooms, etc. I will also always bring hand wipes to clear my own sitting/work area!