I was in line at the store the other day picking up a few things. I didn’t have much and I was under the impression that would make me a rather quick and unobtrusive customer among those with carts full of processed foods.
I was also glad to have only a few things because my seasonal allergies have acted up, and I was hoping to finish quickly so I could get to my car and blow my nose a few hundred times into some old napkins from Subway. The symptoms have been relatively strong this year for whatever reason. Climate change? Global warming? Pollution?
Needless to say, these symptoms have been difficult to contend with and all of my interactions with clients and customers, family and friends are all marred by my insecurity that mucus is dribbling down my face as if I am incapable of managing my own bodily affairs like I’m an invalid or something.
So I resorted to a quick snort to reign in my messy mucus. The relief would last seconds, a couple minutes at the most, but I only needed to waylay my nasal drip for a handful more moments.
While assesing the success of my snort, the lovely lady (and by lovely I mean she looked sweaty in her overly priced workout clothes) behind me decided to speak up.
“Wow! That sounds really bad. Do you need a tissue?” She chimed in.
“No,” I said, “it’s just my allergies. I’ll be fine.”
As if her comment had magical powers of summoning, I suffered an irresistible itch and found myself sniffling again.
I noticed the woman’s eyebrows arch so high I thought that they would float above her scalp like a Warner Brother’s cartoon. She said, “Well, that *sounds* really bad.”
I noticed her emphasis, but as it was my turn to check out, I had no chance to respond. My missed opportunity itched in a way similar to my allergies, but was entirely unreachable. I scanned my items. Paid. Walked out to my car. Promptly blew my nose into the paper napkin that still smelled of Subway bread.
Then I seethed.
Who did this woman think she was? A hall monitor? Morality police? Maybe the runner’s high she got at the gym made her feel entitled to criticise a seemingly sickly, allergy-ridden person buying toiletries.
Well, you know what lady?
My immune system is mistakenly reacting, drowning me in my own body fluids. My tissues are inflaming against ghosts. I can’t breathe. But excuse me for upsetting your delicate sensibilities with my sniffling! I didn’t realize I was being so insensitive. I’m so sorry my allergies are bothering you!
I never chose to have allergies, just like my mother never chose to suffer from astigmatism. This isn’t some ailment that I parade around in an effort merely to annoy others. It’s not contagious. And you know what?
I don’t complain about it.
I may share my frustrations with others so afflicted by allergies. We are like war buddies. We’ve been through the same things, but never have I tried to lobby the non-allergic for sympathy. In addition to my other bothersome symptoms, the last thing I need is criticism for trying to deal the best I can.
So here’s the thing lady: why don’t you imagine what it’s like for your own sinuses to smother you, your nose to sneeze constantly with intensity that could propel a cruise ship, and then try to tell me that my sniffling is bothersome to you.
It may sound gross. It may seem rude. I wish that I could suffer in complete silence, but I would love for the mere sound of my nose to be the only thing about my allergies that bothered me.
Want to trade?