An Open Letter to That One Woman Over There Who Keeps Coughing

Dear Coughing Woman:
For the past week and a half I have been sitting at my desk trying to do work and read important online journals which are more commonly known as Web logs, or “blogs,” but my train of thought is constantly interrupted by your incessant coughing.
I am not a doctor, but it sounds to me like you are in the final stages of consumption, which concerns me greatly. I don’t really know what consumption is, but I seem to recall that a lot of famous writers from the olden days died of it, so you can see why I’m a bit worried. Also, I saw you eating chicken in the lounge the other day, so there is the distinct possibility that you have the avian flu as well.
I know we don’t know each other, in fact, I don’t even know what department you work for, so I hope this letter doesn’t seem out of line. If I did know what department you worked for, I would most certainly speak to your vice president and tell him/her how appalled I am at the fact that his/her department doesn’t allow its employees to take sick days. I can only assume that sick days are strictly verboden where you work, or certainly you would not subject this many people to your open mouthed barking for hours on end.
Given that you are obviously being forced to come to work each day, no matter how sick you are, I felt it necessary to call a few things to your attention. As you know, everyone on this side of the building shares one kitchen area, and on numerous occasions I have witnessed you moistly coughing into your hand, rubbing your nose and then:
1. Grabbing the doorknob to the kitchen
2. Opening the refrigerator
3. Touching the microwave
4. Pressing several buttons on the pop machine
5. Licking clean the surface of every table
Perhaps I didn’t actually witness that last one, but based on your fondness for spreading disease, it seemed a logical assumption.
Over the past week and a half, I have also noticed that several other people in your immediate vicinity have started coughing as well, which leads me to believe that there is an outbreak of consumption in the area which must be contained immediately. As I mentioned before, I’m not a doctor, so I did a quick Google search of “quarantine procedures” and found what appears to be a helpful article from the University of Michigan.
Starting this afternoon, we will be instituting these procedures until it is determined that there is no further threat of contamination. Since this article was targeted more toward rodents than corporate employees, I have made the appropriate text edits to make this more relevant to our situation.
Rodent Incessant Coughing Employee Quarantine Procedures
All rodents employees shipped to the University of Michigan Valhalla Inc. from other institutions or non-approved vendors must go through quarantine procedures before being housed in other animal rooms animal rooms. This is necessary to avoid the possible introduction of infectious agents into the University of Michigan Valhalla Inc. rodent facilities kitchen.
Quarantine Entry Procedures

  • The standard order of cubicle entry is A-B-C-D, barring any surprise contaminations. Cubicles A and B contain SPF animals and cubicle D contains known contaminations.
  • Only one cubicle door can be opened at a time.
  • The biocontainment downward flow hood must be sprayed with Spore-klenz before use, between investigators, between entry into each cubicle, and after procedures are completed within the flow hood.
  • Cubicle A, B and C have a separate gown on the appropriate hook. For Cubicle D, disposable gowns are used in accordance with the new pinworm consumption/avian flu contamination guidelines. A new gown is opened each time cubicle D is entered, and then thrown out afterwards.
    If we all follow these simple procedures, I think that we will be able to work together in greater harmony moving forward. Thank you for your cooperation, and I look forward to your speedy recovery.
    Best regards,
    Jenny Amadeo

  • 23 Responses to “An Open Letter to That One Woman Over There Who Keeps Coughing”

    1. The Scarlett Says:

      Now, more than ever, I believe you need to get this stuff syndicated.
      BTW, the rodent thing was brilliant.

    2. jessica Says:

      Great stuff (as always), Jenny!

    3. number4of5 Says:

      I hope that you actually give this to her. Consumption needs to be stopped.
      I keep disinfecting wipes on my desk. You can borrow some and follow her around, wiping surfaces after she has touched them. Athough, borrow might not be the best word because I won’t want them back. Consider them a gift.
      Better yet, spraying Lysol everytime she coughs might get your point across.

    4. jaymarie Says:

      i am laughing — HARD.
      and shaking my head.
      you are a funny funny girl.

    5. nina Says:

      Wow, Jenny, you’re a big gun in your company! You got power! And you tap dance on the side. Or on the table. Or somewhere. I am very impressed.

    6. jenny Says:

      Why do you guys think this is funny? This is an actual memo I sent out today.
      I’m going to be investing in disinfecting wipes and alcohol swabs for my work area. Good idea!
      And Nina, yes I am a bigwig. My title is EVP of IDC. That’s Excessively Vocal Proponent of Infectious Disease Control.

    7. romy Says:

      i would think this was funny, except that i work with the same damn woman. last year the same thing happened and despite my pleas, generous supply of vitamin-c cough-drops and eventual surreptitious phone calls to the national institute of health, she continued coming to work AND INFECTED ALL OF US. i stayed sick for 5 weeks. this year i hear her coughing in her office and i swear i am ready to go in there with a power hose … oh, wait, no, that was paris.

    8. Jen Says:

      [drawing gun] “All right lunger, let’s do it.”
      (from the movie Tombstone)

    9. Anonymous Says:

      Dear Jenny,
      I think your memo is very good. It is always best in these types of situations to provide clear and direct feedback. Too often people respond passively aggressively; one might be tempted, for example, to cough really LOUDLY right after she does until she goes insane.

    10. Neil Says:

      Alot of famous writers had consumption? Hmmm… if we caught it, would our blogs get better?

    11. Kevin Says:

      I consulted a friend of mine, Dr. XXX (he wished to remain anonymous), and he said…
      “zees ees qvite clearlee a cass of consoompsheen. Geet zee ell oht of Dohdj.”
      He’s not a native speaker.
      I am afraid to go home for I fear Katie must work near someone closely related to That One Woman Over There Who Keeps Coughing. Strange how small this world is, eh?

    12. jenny Says:

      R: Wish I had some vitamin C drops. I’m gonna need all the help I can get.
      J: [clutching bleeding stomach] Aaargh… you got me! I’ll see you in hell!
      [draws gun and shoots Clint Eastwood]
      (Okay, so I’ve never seen Tombstone, but I imagine it was something like that.)
      V: Ooh – you mean I could go the passive aggressive route? I love the echo cough idea!
      N: Actually, if we could all just get leprosy and move to a colony in Antigua together, it would be a bloggers’ paradise! I’m certain our traffic would go up by at least 24%.
      K: You must quarantine Katie immediately. See instructions in entry above!

    13. Dr. G Says:

      We have a “patient zero” here at work too. Always coughing with her mouth open. Gross. People are filthy, filthy, animals. I slick my body in a thin film of Purell at all times as I have no health insurance.

    14. shari Says:

      Every workplace has its own “Typhoid Mary.” Didn’t Credence Clearwater Revival do a song about that?

    15. hooizz Says:

      i like to go upto those kinds of people, shake their hand, and then whip out an industrial size purell which i use to bath my entire hands/forearms/biceps in it.
      i also do this for people who ive personally seen walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands.

    16. Jen Says:

      [clutching bleeding stomach] Aaargh… you got me! I’ll see you in hell!
      [draws gun and shoots Clint Eastwood]
      (Okay, so I’ve never seen Tombstone, but I imagine it was something like that.)

      Doc Holiday had TB (Consumption). “Lunger” was the slang at the time. That was, like, you going over to her cubicle and shooting her, and stuff. OK never mind.

    17. jenny Says:

      Dr. G – tell me you’re kidding about the health insurance. Don’t you work with radioactive gene splicing stuff all day long?
      S: Mmmm… I remember the song “Mustang Sally,” but can’t recall “Typhoid Mary.” Can you hum a few bars?
      H: Don’t even get me started on the no-hand washing bathroom people!
      J: Brilliant! I would LOVE to put her out of her misery, believe me!

    18. Pants Says:

      There is a coughing woman in my office, too. I’m tempted to forward this post to her.

    19. teahouseblossom Says:

      Euwww..get away from Typhoid Mary!! Wasn’t there a Seinfeld episode where Elaine worked in an office with a woman like that?

    20. jaymarie Says:

      jenny – did you say that you have never seen Tombstone?
      tell me it’s not true.
      i couldn’t tell you why, but it really is one of my favorite movies.
      it just ROCKS!
      must see Tombstone…

    21. Rarity Says:

      Damn! That’s a funny entry!
      (Even if it’s totally gross, and upsettingly true – it akes you (well me, anyway) want to stay at home permanently with barred doors)

    22. Roy Says:

      The epizoodic spread through our building like wildfire one winter, and the cause was pinpointed when building maintenance workers determined that the same exact air had been in the building since 1978, and there were some strains of enfluenza in the building that had evolved into upright mammals, which I suspected long before that.

    23. Bobby Says:

      Maybe the coworker would get a clue if you started wearing one of those midevil plague masks – it’s a like a foot long beak stuffed with potpouri strapped to the face.