Ahem!

Laugh till I cry.

Cry till I get a headache.

I did both today.

Although I only want to talk about the first one.

We hired two new guys at the beginning of the year. One is perfectly normal; the other less so. He doesn’t get any of our jokes, he’s in a daze half the time, he’s full of non sequiturs…and he coughs and clears his throat every three seconds.

Initially he was only coughing and clearing his throat, but gradually it became more like…gagging. The sound he emits is like when you’re trying to spit out toothpaste foam that you’ve accidentally swallowed when brushing your teeth. You go deep, with all your might.

He does that. Every. Few. Seconds.

Imagine having to listen to someone sputtering their lungs out every so often. Not only is it distracting but it’s disgusting. I’m constantly torn between wanting to laugh and shout at him to stop being so filthy. We still have no dining area in the office (dammit!) so when I bring lunch from home, which is four times a week, I’m forced to eat my lunch in front of my computer while he’s sitting two desks from me gagging his life away.

There was once I thought he was actually choking. It sounded really…violent. I asked him if he was okay and he simply stared at me blankly.

The next few days there was still no sign of abatement so I asked him about it – politely, of course. He said he had seen a doctor who did “all sorts of blood tests” on him but found no cause of the prolonged coughing. I can’t tell if he was telling the truth or not.

In the meantime, DS and I formed our own theory: Tourette’s. We’re used to Tourette’s being of the cursing variety, but in fact the coughing/clearing of throat tic is much more common.

You can’t just ask someone if they have Tourette’s or tell them that they should check for Tourette’s, so we just bear with it as much as we can. I hate to say it but eating in front of him now doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. And the boys don’t mention it anymore either. Basically, everyone is accustomed to it now.

Everyone, that is, except for our director, AM. He comes here once a month and his current trip is his first time working with this guy. The first time he noticed it he looked up and discreetly threw that guy a dirty look. Numerous coughs/sputters/gags later, he realised that something was clearly going on, and cornered me about it. His standard manner of questioning something incredulously is “What’s that all about?” which just adds to the hilarity. I laughed and laughed.

I explained the situation to him and what DS’s and my thoughts are and he just shook his head in disbelief. He’s still not okay with it. Whenever the cough is particularly violent, he looks at me and I have to stifle my laughter. I’m not laughing at the guy anymore – I’m laughing at AM’s reaction. His facial expression is classic.

Today, after one very intense sputter, AM looked at me and I deliberately did not reciprocate for fear of pissing my pants. But AM being AM, he couldn’t give up. He emailed me with the link to the following video.

I put my earphones on and damn near died laughing. I couldn’t handle it. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and everything! Some parts of the cat’s cough is seriously reminiscent of my colleague’s…I’m not kidding. I know I shouldn’t laugh, and if it’s really Tourette’s it’s really no laughing matter. But…shit.

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2 thoughts on “Ahem!

  1. My aunt’s longtime boyfriend did that. Whenever I hear someone with his cough I think of him. That would be irritating for me if I was the one doing it too – tell him to go see an ENT! 😉

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