One Man’s Throat


This has not been a good day or two. I’ve just had four days off work, after working nine out of the previous ten days, and going to London on the one day off. Curiously, I managed to feel tireder by the day, and on the Sunday found myself coming down with the kind of sore throat that is most unwelcome when your day job is to sit and answer the phone.

I got through Monday without undue pains, but despite stuffing myself with Hall’s Cherry Soothers (commercial plug, though they’re much less effective – or tasty – than Cherry Tunes used to be), and drinking plenty of liquids, it didn’t take long before talking started to hurt my throat and bring on some very nasty coughing.

I have managed to get my designation for today shifted to an Outbound role, and to working on Monitoring queues where the need to call anyone is greatly diminished. I am also constricted when it comes to corresponding with my line manager and colleagues. Yes, I have e-mail, and a whiteboard on which brief messages can be written and held up (don’t tempt me) but most of the time, I’m sitting here is silence and, of necessity, isolation.

This is an odd experience for me. I have had scores of sore throats that have led to coughing fits during which talking has been out of the question, but most of the time I just put up with them, chainsuck Tunes, or nowadays Soothers, and get on with it.

I can recall only one similar occasion, during my legal career, in Local Government, where I came into work with a throat so sore that talking was impossible due to how much it hurt. I immediately notified my Senior Lawyer, by e-mail, that I was unable to talk, and therefore couldn’t take or make phone calls, but that in every other respect I was fit to work and would do so.

And I got through the day quite successfully, even when it came time to go over to Estates to receive – and discuss – a new set of instructions. I warned my Instructing Surveyor that she would need to make a computer terminal available, and we ended up having a weird but very successful discussion in which she talked and I typed responses at frantic speed, and fast enough that a meeting that might have taken nearly twenty minutes in normal circumstances was concluded in twenty-five.

Whilst I don’t ordinarily make complimentary remarks about lawyers, I have to credit my then colleagues for treating my plight with sympathy and, dare I say it, dignity. Which is more than I can say about certain among my team-mates where I work now, who were more inclined to take the piss among each other over my handicap. One in particular, who I very recently reported for some vile homophobic remarks, took the opportunity to say something about me and my being a gentleman of high standards (I think). I didn’t find his apology at all believable, and I suspected then that I’d marked myself out as far as he’s concerned.

Nice to see my suspicions bearing some sort of fruit, however high-hanging it may be at this stage.

On the other hand, being effectively cut off from everyone is a very depressing experience. It makes time pass very slowly, and very wearyingly, and I’m starting from a pretty high line on the weary scale as it is. The overdose in Soothers is starting to make my head feel pretty woozy, but thankfully I’m due lunch and thirty minutes off in less than another ten.

It has ended up being a long and very weary day. One of my colleagues is pretty flirty and most of the conversation around her tends to be conducted in double entendres. I’ve been guilty of that myself on many occasions, but I know the most important thing bout jokes is when to stop. Nobody else does. It’s just been non-stop today, way past the point where anything remotely funny can be said. In fact, there’s been a lot of it that hasn’t been double enough for my liking, though it’s not my place to complain about things that aren’t directed at me. But it’s been like listening to a sleazy, cheesy, second rate Seventies sitcom, but one that’s lasted four hours without a break for adverts.

There isn’t really a punch-line to this story. I ended up feeling like my head will keel over at any moment, I was still coughing if I strayed too far from a Soother, and I’m seriously doubtful of my ability to lever my head off the pillow tomorrow morning. Not being able to talk isn’t as bad as finding it difficult to think straight.

I have no throat and cannot scream.

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