OK, I’ve determined that my stuffy nose and congested head is not from a potentially deadly flu but most likely allergies. Which is why I totally appreciated my fellow passenger on the subway for recognizing this in the midst of a coughing fit. In one of those panicky moments when you can’t stop coughing and your face turns red and tears are streaming down your face, I still managed to feel bad for the people next to me as I made my way home today. Because if that were me sitting close by while some woman hacked away, I might have turned an evil eye on the offender as if to say, I know you have H1N1 and thank you for infecting me. But this sweet man took pity on me.
“Allergies, huh?” he asked.
“Uhthr,” I coughed out.
“They’re bad this year.”
Despite my messy face and urge to sneeze, just to spice things up, I tried to show gratitude for his fearless understanding.
“I forgot to bring water,” I said. “Thanks for not running away.”
Of course, this is on the heels of another coughing fit yesterday while I was reading the delightful Olive Kitteridge also on the T. The woman next to me took advantage of the pause in my attack to ask if the book was as good as she’d heard.
“Yrhgythaq,” I managed, nodding, so she’d know that was a yes. My eyes had welled up from the coughing (and the book is really sad, OK?) so when she looked over at me, I giant tear was making tracks down my cheek. We carried on conversing as if everyone cries on the T, and I told her she should really read it despite our shared hesitation that linked short stories would not be as satisfying as a novel and that cough, it’s also very moving.
Thank you, kind passengers for not shunning me on the train.