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    « Three ways to save face after an autocorrect typo | Main | class phwoar: extreme muesli »

    Workplace offenders: the excessively theatrical sneezer

    A guy I once worked with had the loudest sneeze I had ever heard. It was a proper, full-body, unrestrained, loud and distinctive ach-oo, and every time he did it – two or three times a day, I'd say (people sneeze a hell of a lot in offices, don't they?) – it brought an aftermath of awkwardness. There would be some offended frowning (me) and some embarrassed laughter (also me), and a flurry of comments from his surrounding colleagues: 'Wow, that was a bigun', 'blimey, that was quite something', 'that deserves a round of applause'. 

    I felt so outraged by these comments because a loud, theatrical sneeze should not be celebrated. It is bad manners. It's nonsense that humans have no control about the way they sneeze. The discreet, embarrassed 'pneu' sound I make when I sneeze in public ('like Tinkerbell from a distance', one colleague told me), compared to the normal, more relaxed 'kknn-chh' I do at home is evidence that a sneeze can be adapted to suit one's environment. It's just some people have gone through their lives doing a particularly distinctive sneeze and have come to almost forget that what is actually happening is an expulsion of air and mucus and therefore it should probably be reined in when you are in public.

    So, I'm sorry if you've grown up being told that your sneeze is characterful and delightful and you think of it as part of who you are; it's not OK to let rip at work. And, those of you who encourage this behaviour with comments like 'I really felt you put your full weight behind that one' (yes, someone actually said this), you need to zip it too.

    Reader Comments (1)

    On the one hand, stifling a sneeze can damage a fragile sinus cavity. On the other hand, even young children can be taught to sneeze into the elbow or the sleeve, so as not to spread their germs to the immediate area. Of course, a handkerchief or tissue is ideal, if it can be acquired soon enough.

    February 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergamma

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