25 February 2014

The parallel adventures of Coughing Man

It has come to my attention that during the retelling of my trip to Iceland, I neglected to mention coughing man. It seems so trivial, but I don't know how I could have possibly forgotten. See, coughing man haunted us the entire trip. His and his wife's itinerary was essentially the exact same as ours. Same flight from Denver, same tours, same flight back. He wasn't stalking us or anything, but we surely noticed he was there. Because of the coughing.

On the flight from Denver, coughing man and his wife were behind us. And he coughed incessantly. I barely slept. I briefly worried that he had some communicable disease, and tried to take precautions. However, someone had already thought to ask him about his wracking cough and he'd assured everyone that it was just the remnants of a prior illness.

I know I mentioned that we got into the hotel very early. And that there wasn't a room ready at that time. Well, coughing man and his wife were in a similar predicament it seemed. And he coughed a whole lot in the lobby while we waited.

Luckily, they didn't end up in a room on our floor, otherwise it could have been ugly.

But that night, sure enough, coughing man and his wife climb onto the bus to go see the Northern Lights. He sat a few rows up and coughed.  

About this time I recalled that I'd had a terrible cough for a few weeks in December and wondered how anyone could have possibly handled being around me. Mostly, my boyfriend. And he had been a bit annoyed at times. I didn't understand until I met coughing man. And I thought his wife was taking quite well, then I noticed that she kept badgering him about cough drops under her breath.

We did get a couple of days respite from coughing man. We may have passed them in the hotel a time or two, but we were adventuring in a rental car and getting away from people.

But on the last day as we were waiting for the shuttle to the Blue Lagoon, there they were again: coughing man and his wife, all their luggage packed. And so we rode the shuttle with them. Bathed in the lagoon near them. And of course sat near them on the shuttle to the airport. All the while coughing man coughed and coughed. The intervening days seemed not to have helped him at all.

So coughing man haunted our trip. We'd be in quiet conversation and his raucous coughing would interrupt. We could hear him from a mile away (I don't think that was ever proven).

I feel as though I haven't described his coughing enough. That I've only mentioned coughing man and that he was around us often. But honestly, I don't know if I would have known he was around if he didn't have the cough. He'd have been just another tourist. I never even recognized him and his wife until I heard him cough. It was so distinctive. It just sounded painful and dry. I wanted to tell him to find an expectorant. I wanted to tell him to drink more water. Or to spend some time in a dry climate.

Coughing man was a part of our trip to Iceland. A small part to be sure, but a memorable one.

1 comment:

Abby said...

It's weird how incessant coughing is often more annoying to people around the cougher than to the coughee! What "luck" to have him with you the whole time. Almost seems like the start of a sci-fi story. I hope that wasn't the most memorable part of the trip!