Excuse me, but is that your lung?

One of the benefits of having a part-time job on campus is that I also have an office on campus (it’s really a former storage room, but I’ve made it purty with pictures by Kandinsky–ok, who am I kidding? It still resembles a storage unit). Unfortunately, my office/storage room is located right next to the men’s restroom (note: in my building there is a men’s room on every floor but the first. The women’s rooms are only located in the basement and on the second floor. I can’t help but wonder if the architect somehow believed that men need to go to the bathroom more often and can’t be trusted to walk as far to do so.  Of course, there’s the obvious sexist explanation as well–that the only place a woman would need to be in a science building is in the front office as a secretary–which happens to be conveniently located right across from the restroom on the second floor.) Anyhoo, as I was saying, this location is not normally a problem, but today, a student walked into the bathroom coughing so loudly that I could hear it over the persistent melody of the air vent in my office. And, you know, coughing isn’t usually a problem either, but this was the kind of coughing where you could swear that he must have lost a lung, phlegm was involved, I was eating my lunch, and just listening to it made me feel like gagging (of course, I have this problem that I like to call “sympathetic hyperventilation/vomiting.” When my husband gets an asthma attack–which rarely happens–I end up hyperventilating. I can’t handle watching people trapped in confined spaces on t.v. for a similar reason. And if someone has the flu or throws up for other reasons, I end up feeling like I might add to the fun myself).

So please, if you are really that ill, stay home. In the first place, selfish person that I am, I do not want you spreading germs all over me and getting me sick (because I just don’t have the time for that right now). Additionally, selfish person that I am, I don’t want to find your lung on the floor of the hallway–because that’s just icky.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Hopefully the air vent in your ‘office’ doesn’t connect with the men’s room….how fast is it exactly that a cough is thrust into the air? Best not to think about these things. I can relate to the office space–for nine of the ten years I’ve worked here I worked in an area also mean to be storage and had to stare at a concrete wall for eight straight hours (not painted–they didn’t want to ‘ruin the integrity’ of the design–just plain old ugly grey concrete). Now we are renovating and have moved my department into a room consisting of faculty study offices which are smaller than the size of a normal broom closet. Every time I move my chair back I hit the wall. Somehow I don’t think they thought a faculty member would need a large desk, printer and book cart in the area and they probably wouldn’t spend a full forty hour work week. Thankfully it’s not next to any bathroom though! 🙂


  2. Danielle: Didn’t want to “ruin the integrity”–that’s fantastic! I am just grateful for art calendars–it’s a cheap way to transform a wall–and mine is a really awful shade of yellow, so anything that can help is nice. Luckily, the vent in my office doesn’t seem to be connected to the men’s room…although the woman who worked their before me swears that it was! 🙂


  3. Posted by Queen Mother on February 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Why is it that these people insist on doing their coughing, vomiting etc just as you are about to bite into that sandwich or even worse a curry dish – think about it. I have to agree with your request, that if you are that sick, please, please stay home and infect those that are near and dear to you not the random stranger. Sharing is good but it should shared with those who have to put up with you not those who do not. Hope that the lung of the cougher is still intact.

    I have a Chagall calendar that I want to use to decorate – however, my problem is no walls.


  4. Queen Mother: And wouldn’t you know, I was eating palak paneer at the time. Oy!


  5. I suffer from “sympathetic hyperventilating/vomiting” myself, and you’ve just given me yet another reason I am so, so happy I’m a telecommuter.


  6. Emily: the student with the missing lung is back again today, and I am really, really jealous of your telecommuting! 🙂 However, I have learned my lesson–I will wait until he leaves to eat my lunch (of course, it’s palak paneer again…)


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