Corona Cough

I may have mentioned before, I have a bad chronic cough. I have had it all my life. I can go all day without coughing, and then I get a hunk of phlegm on the back of my throat and I just have to cough, and often it takes me five or six coughs to get it clear before I am fine again. These are not little dainty coughs. These are earth-shaking put your hands down on the counter, lean over and hope you don’t pass out coughs.

It is rare that I don’t have someone come over and ask me politely “Are you all right?”

That was before Corona.

I am at work at the hospital and headed to lunch at noontime. In the elevator, I feel a cough coming on. Just before the door closes, a leg sticks through, and it reopens to admit a young nurse. I smile at her, doing my best to hold my cough in. It is only two floors. I hold my breath and then I hold the door for her and as soon as she is by me, I bolt to the corner of the hallway and cough into my arm, and for a moment, I am alright. A close one.

The cafeteria is crowded like a watering hole on a scorching day. I make my way through the throngs to the salad bar, still feeling a bit of an itch in my throat. I get a plastic bin, and no sooner have I put two leaves of lettuce in it, than I feel the urge to cough come roaring back. I drop the salad tongs and retreat to the coffee machines, and try to collect myself. But no matter how hard I fight it. I can’t hold it in. I cough once hard into my shoulder.

The cafeteria falls quiet.

Ears perk.

It is like a herd of deer has lifted their heads. Not a movement.

Could a wolf be about?

I move quickly several steps to my right, and try to hide behind a man carrying a tray with two cheeseburgers and a large order of fries on it. I cough again. There is a fluttering through the room. The cheeseburger man bursts forward quickly, and I am left naked in the open. Heads swivel, searching for the perpetrator. Two women eye me. One whispers to the other. I see a man point toward me, eyes narrowing. They are all focusing on me. I fear someone will shout “There’s he is! There’s the cougher! He’s going to kill us all! Stone him! Stone him!”

If I take another breath, I will cough uncontrollably.  My eyes will water, my face turn purple!  I can’t let that happen.   I still hold the salad bin in my hand. I calculate if I can make it to the register. Not a chance. The lines are too long. Still holding my breath, I turn, put the bin with the two leaves of lettuce in the garbage and flee back out the cafeteria entrance. I flee down the hall, then into the elevator, which thankfully is empty. I go back down the two floors to the basement, and flee down more long halls until I am safe in my basement office where I sit in my chair trembling.

Oh, man. 


  • donorcure says:

    It’s very sad to read this. People are terrible and they are doing overacting, to be honest. I’m also regularly coughing because I’m a smoker. I also experience this last week inside the bank, and people are staring at me. I cannot blame them, but people should not be panic when they saw someone is coughing.

  • Johnny says:

    I have chronic bronchitis. We all feel this way. I playfully accuse my children of carrying coronavirus at a mere clearing of the throat or the slightest sniggle.
    Sadly, we are more at risk. I won’t scold you for waiting for the crowds to die down for your own safety. They are afraid, but they are the carriers who most likely will not be affected.
    Best wishes!

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