Winter – A Time To Share Sickness.

So this is winter. Winter started two days ago and already it feels like there has never been anything else. Miserable bastard cold that soaks into your bones but that you feel guilty whinging about unless you’ve never been to a country where they have a real winter. Melbourne winter sucks, but if you were English and looked at the technical specifications you’d think of it as a rather mild summer. Of course, if you were Canadian you’d just laugh in my face or beat me with an ice hockey stick for even suggesting that we have a winter.

Aside from the bed-inertia that comes over me in winter, I don’t mind it. Except for sickness. Naturally, I don’t like getting sick myself, but other people’s sickness is what is truly detestable, and the beginning of the season it seems everyone gets something. Public transport becomes a disease swap-meet – sniffles, sneezes and coughs all on offer, the freshest and latest bacterial and viral concoctions, some oldies and some newies so resistant to modern treatments you’ll get comments back from the pathology lab doing your blood tests, or maybe even a personal letter from Kofi Annan suggesting you let weapons inspectors into your lungs.

Seriously, what the biologically-terrorising fuck is wrong with people? On the train this morning most of the diseased commuters were politely mopping their sniffles with tissues or covering their mouths to cough, except the middle-aged gentleman opposite me. Sitting there reading a book, not attempting to cover the occasional coughs that burst from him. The first cough surprised me and I realised I was in some danger of infection, but it was just one cough and, hell, maybe it crept up on him, maybe he was just too embarrassed to apologise for it. No. A few minutes later a little double cough, again no reaction. The fucker was doing it deliberately. He just didn’t give a fuck about anyone else. He could turn the pages of his book OK, so his fucking arms worked fine, maybe he was just so pissed of about being ill that he thought he’d take it out on the rest of the train. Maybe his head was so far up his own arse that the idea of other people hadn’t occurred to him at all. It was at this point I realised my circulation was fine, all of a sudden I was warm, even starting to sweat a little.

The third cough came. Again, this selfish fucker did nothing to cover his filthy diseased mouth. Excuse me, I said, would you cover your mouth when you cough please? He stared blankly at me. Did he not understand? You were coughing. Could you cover your mouth when you cough?, I restated. I was pretty happy with my composure, I was Mr Calmly-Assertive and I felt the few commuters aware of our interaction were probably understanding where I was coming from. Still, he met me with a blank stare and then went back to reading.

OK, don’t lose your mind. Maybe he’s got the message. Maybe he feels humiliated to be coached on cold etiquette on public transport and at his age. Let it go.

Again! He fucking coughed again! Didn’t cover it – cunt! HEY!!!, Now I had his attention, and pretty much everyone in the carriage had turned to see what was going on, but there was no way of bringing my tone down to a more intimate level. If you’ve got to cough, cover your fuckin’ mouth! Do you understand me? I’ve asked you nicely, now stop coughing in my fucking face. He was just staring at me. He went to return to his book again. HEY! I’m fucking talking to you! You’re sick. I don’t want your cold, so cover your mouth. Do you fucking understand? DON’T COUGH IN MY FACE! He was well aware that he was in trouble, he knew the game was up, but a nervous cough escaped him and he didn’t raise a hand. That was when I lost my mind. I leapt forward and placing one hand behind him onto the back of his head, I clamped my other hand over his mouth and screamed into his eyes: COVER YOUR FUCKING MOUTH, YOU DISEASED CUNT! PEOPLE HAVE TO LIVE AND WORK, THEY DON’T WANT YOUR FUCKING SICKNESS. COVER YOUR SHITTY MOUTH WHEN YOU COUGH OR STAY THE FUCK HOME! I SEE YOU NOT COVER YOUR MOUTH AGAIN, I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU!!!

I had been shaking his head on every syllable. In his eyes was sheer mortal terror. I let him go. Everyone was looking at the madman. That was me. Ooh. I had just threatened a man’s life. On a packed train. Step away from the scared man. Nothing to see here. The train pulled into a station, not mine, I got off anyway. I waited for the next train.

I feel extremely stupid and ashamed, and I’m jumping at every little sound because I’m expecting it to be the police come to cart me away. I’m not a violent person, I’m not a crazed, militant, vigilante type, and I didn’t hurt the man. Despite what you may think from what you read here, I don’t put my hands on people, I’m all talk. I just hate bad manners and I really hope if I ever see the coughing man again that he just doesn’t cough in my face. I don’t think I’d go well in prison.

5 Responses to “Winter – A Time To Share Sickness.”

  1. Old Gregg Says:

    Buck Frain in action, hurrah! You’re basically a superhero.

    If the cops show up, invent an evil twin or something. I can see you as having an evil twin. Or a robotic duplicate. One that actually carries out all your mute internet threats. It’d be a good system.

  2. I work in a Public Library and our patrons never cease in their delight in telling us just how sick they are or have been. eg: “I couldn’t come in yesterday because I couldn’t leave the bathroom.” Yeah…. thanks.

  3. Saffyrre Says:

    I was a little shocked to read that you actually confronted the man at the very end but happy at the same time. I’m sure that every commuter within ear-shot of the incident felt exactly the same way you did except no one else had the balls to do anything about it! I would have been clapping and addding “Here here!”.

    I live in Canada but on the Pacific coast. Much milder weather here than the rest of the country (or my home of Chicago, IL. DAMN that’s a cold winter!). I must admit I still get surprised every time I remember that it’s actually winter there right now instead of summer like it is here.

    PS really enjoy your blog! Just started reading a week or so ago and it cracks me up. I tried to put some “smilies” on posts at humor-blogs.com but after only what seemed to be a few it said, “So we get it! You like Buck Frain’s Angry Place! Rate something else!” Damn thing won’t let me give you more smilies! You should rant on them I say!

  4. Ha ha, admire your work!

  5. Hope this isn’t too off topic, but I live in Ontario and usually the winters here go fairly cold (sometimes about -20ºC), which while I don’t enjoy I do realize is preferable to mild winter weather (-5ºC to 5ºC) we occasionally get (for a few weeks in January, usually) because that creates just a friendly enough environment for diseases to breed and flourish. If the winter is cold enough, I don’t get too sick, but a mild winter will leave me chronically ill. I’m glad you told off the cougher.

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