Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tom said, in response to this post

Only thing worse to overhear during
a strangers coughing fit is
"I should get the TB results tomorrow..."

Which reminds me of the days when I worked at Children's Hospital Reseach Foundation. Early each morning, this elderly janitor would go around each floor of the building, emptying wastepaper baskets. I could track his progress by the sound of his wet, hacking, gargling cough; it could have been used as a sound effect for a Dickens movie.

Each morning, when he'd stop by my workstation, I'd say, "You really ought to get that thing checked out. It sounds really bad, like maybe it's TB."

He'd say, "Nah, it ain't nothin' but allergies."

Then he'd hobble off, muttering to himself between coughing sessions, and spitting blood into his handkerchief. I'd take my surgical mask off, and wonder who I should report him to. Then I'd get too busy to worry about anything as simple as public health concerns, and spend three hours arguing with my then-advisor about how little time I was spending at work (about 16-18 hours a day).

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