Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sounds of the Season

Sniff. Sniffle. Snort. Sniff sniff, wheeze.

The month of October has been quite mild and pleasant to the delight of most residents of Southern Ontario. Ever so slowly, though, the fluctuating temperature of warm-not so warm-a little chilly-back to damn near hot has brought about a case of the sniffles to many people who ride on the subway. (Including myself these past few days.)

Listening to the sniffles is like listening to the oh-so-dreaded nails on a chalk board for me. In fact, my biggest moment of high school bitch involved a girl named Kelly and her sniffling nose. (Now, I really wasn't a high school bitch. I wasn't really cool enough -- uhh, or mean enough -- to be one of those... Sometimes though my humour is mistaken for bitchiness. This situation was a neat little combo of both.) There I sat, studiously listening to my English teacher--not passing notes and giggling with Liz and Derek, I swear--about The Stud Horse Man (it's a real book, check it out. Actually, don't literally check it out. I do not recommend reading it.) My concentration had been broken for near a month due to poor Kelly's cold. Every day. Sniff sniffle sniff. Not once did she bring along tissues. Not once did she stand up to get a tissue from the teacher's desk.

Her sniffling grated on my nerves. Finally I could take it no longer. Derek, Liz and I had joked around many-a-lunchtimes that one of us should just get up and put the box of tissues on her desk. Drop the big hint, you know. We thought it was a pretty funny idea, but did not think any of us would actually do it.

Until......I was about to scream.

I understand we all get colds, we all get the flu. We all get a case of the sniffles and sometimes do not have a tissue handy, so the only thing to do is sniff that snot back up. What I do not understand is why you would purposely not wipe your nose, why you would not use the tissues available to you for that specific purpose.

I did it. I stood up, and with the stealth of a cat, I moved to the front desk and picked up the tissues. Kelly sat one row over, and one seat back from my desk. So I was not going out of my way to put the tissues on her desk. I was not walking around the room to a desk on the opposite side of the class. While now, I am sure it was obvious what I was doing, I felt at the time, I was not.

She looked up at me with big glassy eyes, and quickly averted her gaze. Embarrassment, shame. I don't know. But thank the good lord the sniffling stopped and she used the tissues. I suspect a handful of my classmates were happy I did it.

Surprisingly, I did not get in trouble for this. Was it mean? Can I count this as my official 'high school bitch move'? Should I track down Kelly and give her my apologies?

I keep a travel pack of tissue in my purse. I suffer from a rather regularly stuffy and/or sniffley nose myself, so I always want them handy. I'm sure that someone out there is grossed out by me, wiping away at my nose in public, and wants to rant about it too. I send my apologies good sir--or good lady. But I'd rather you be able to look away and not see me wiping than you not being able to block out the sound of the sniffles.

Do you know how tempted I am to hand out tissues around town? To record the sound of someone sniffling and play it back to them and ask them how they like it? Oh dear, now that is mean. I would not do that. At all, ever. But hand out a tissue. Yes.

So if you ever happen to be on the subway in Toronto, and some girl hands you a tissue because you are sniffling away...chances are it might be me.

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