Monday, December 29, 2008

stop coughing

As soon as the temperature drops below 50 degrees, why is it that everyone starts coughing everywhere all the time? I can't go outside my door without hearing someone in the hallway cough. Then someone at the bus stop coughs as I walk by. Then someone at the Metro stop coughs, then on the Metro, and again at the next stop, then on the escalator, and on the street, then at the intersection with the long light, again in lobby of my building, another time on the elevator, and finally one last time as I walk down the row of cubes to my office. Today I heard someone coughing for 30 straight minutes at McDonald's across the street from my window. Cough. Cough. Cough. I think it must be boredom or something. You're sitting on the metro, thinking about how bored you have been for the last 6 minutes and how bored you'll be sitting there for the next 12 minutes, and wondering why you're so bored even though you've taken the same metro trip twice a day for 15 years and haven't thought to bring something to read or listen to, and then you hear someone cough, think to yourself, "Holy shit, that would break my boredom for 4/10 of a second," and then "COUGH!" Suddenly the rush of boredomlessness is over, and you wallow in its passing, and yearn for it to lift your spirits again, so again, you "COUGH! COUGH! COUGH!" But by now it's getting old, and you don't get the same thrill as the first time you coughed. Your marginal utility on each successive cough decreases, you reassess your boredom reduction strategy, and you start to risk seeming rude to the other passengers, assuming that you have even considered the other passengers standing 6 inches from your face in every direction at 7:55 am. So you pause and collect yourself, retreating into a deeper boredom. Then you hear someone on the other side of the train cough several times, and you wistfully recall how it was when you coughed, growing ever more jealous of their cough-induced glee. The cough continues its slow echo around the train: from the elderly man to the high school girl to the unkept person everyone knows is sick and/or crazy and tries to avoid at all costs without looking like they're trying to avoid him. "How long before I can go back to coughing without seeming suspicious?" you think. You know you don't have a cold, or even a chronic cough, in fact whenever you cough you giggle to yourself about how implausible it is that 9/10 of the passengers riding the train at any one time has either of these conditions. But still you debate within yourself the merits and demerits of sending yourself into another artificial coughing episode. So 45 seconds after your last cough, you "COUGH!!!" again, this time really loudly, partly to convey the seriousness of your made-up condition to your fellow passengers, so that the next fit of fake coughing you engage in a minute from now, and each minute thereafter until you get off at Gallery Place, is presumed to be necessary rather than entirely unnecessary and completely annoying. You get off the train, cough again, go up the escalator, cough, walk down the street, cough, stop at the long light, cough, walk into the lobby, cough, go up the elevator, cough, walk down the hallway, cough, and then turn around, go outside, and sit outside at McDonald's in the 35-degree weather sipping your hot cup o' jo for a half hour, coughing the whole goddamn time.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This whole entry is nothing more than a not-so-subtle brag about your office...which apparently has a window.

Brice Lord said...

If you count 1 out of 600 words as not-so-subtle, then yes, you're absolutely right. You should feel ashamed and unfulfilled at your windowlessness.

CJ said...

I have bronchitis, and it hurts. When I get better I will hurt you.

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