Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Why am I always the asshole?

About halfway through the first leg of my commute this morning, a woman sat down next to me and proceeded to cough, loudly and wetly, about ever minute-and-a-half. Now, I'm not very germ-phobic (you can't be in a big city...at least not if you start thinking about how many people touch the things you touch every day), and I get that it's cold season, but this woman was hacking away just inches from me and she wasn't covering her mouth.

I fumed for a while, making irritated noises and glaring at her every time she barked, but she was undeterred. Finally, I turned to her after a particularly gross outburst and said, "Lady, would you please cover your mouth?" It was harsher in my head, involving a raised voice and a "for god's sake," but even so she looked at me with a good amount of shock.

"I mean, I'm sorry you're not feeling well," I added, still irritated but quieter, "but you're coughing all over everybody."

She just looked at me for another moment, then said, "It's not contagious."

"I didn't mean... it's just gross, is all. If I had a lozenge I'd offer you one."

"I have one. It's not contagious, it's an allergic reaction. To perfume."

"Oh. Um, the subway must be really hard for you then."

"Every morning."

"Oh. Sorry."

And, of course, then I had to sit next to her for another 15 minutes. Though I have to say, she didn't cough once for the rest of the trip.

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