A cough. It’s become a trigger for me on my travels. I hear one, and I move to avert it.
I was in Clermont-Ferrand, France a couple weeks ago when I heard a loud, man sounding cough–the kind designed to clear phlegm from the lungs. I scanned right and left trying to place it.
Eventually I discovered the source–above me–a man on the boundary of middle and older age with his head out the window of a second story apartment (first story in Europe).
We locked eyes, and he nudged his neck toward me as if to say, “Yeah, I’m coughing at you. What are you going to do about it?”
I grimaced and made quick steps down the hill away from him.
A couple days later I woke with my own summer cold–a sore throat and phlegm lodged deep in my chest cavity where it remained for a day or two before I was able to start hacking it out.
Whether my sickness came from the cough from above or another of the many open mouth coughers I’ve tried to avoid on my travels, whose to say.
All I know is that having been coughed upon, I became a cougher. And so it goes.