Death by Cubicle

Dustbusting in the cubes

It’s not that often that I join the ranks of the “Oh my God, I am sick and I must be dying of some dread disease!” club. But I have to tell you, this year has been terrible! I am talking huge, heaping levels of suckitude when it has come to my health.  Got hit with bronchitis just in time for my birthday (December 30th- Happy New Year to ME) and that lasted through January and into February.  I finally start to feel better, go to the upper elevations of Flagstaff to run, and come home with a cough. DAMMIT.  What the hell?!?!

That cough is now accompanying several other fantastic symptoms like: runny nose, itchy, burning eyes, swollen sinuses and not to be left out, the always-awesome-never-attractive swollen eye lids. YAY ME!! Oh, and the real fun?  If I don’t blow my nose fast enough the boogers back up and make me gag. YAHOO!  Not just any gag either, I am talking about full-scale Flying-Nelson-elbows- to- the-bladder gagging. This is especially joyous when I am at the cube farm at work. Really adds spice to my day.

Maybe I am allergic to work? OR, and this is much more likely- I have so much awesome, my body can’t contain it. Making the cough a life saving pressure valve, slowly letting the awesome leak out so I don’t explode. Sure. That has to be it.

Last week I read a horrifying story about Valley Fever and how a woman, a native Desert Rat, contracted the virus and then coughed so hard she BLEW OUT HER SPINE. Yes, you read that right.  She survived with surgery and after a YEAR of care was able to walk again. She is still “disabled” but alive.  Of course when I read it I thought “HOLY SHIT. That is awful!”.  But I didn’t dwell on it.

Until I coughed so hard on Sunday morning that my spine popped and the nerve endings all the way to my fingers and toes tingled with fire. I won’t say I went into a full blown anxiety attack (but I won’t say I didn’t either) worrying about my spine falling off or out, but waiting (what felt like all damned day) for 9:30 AM to roll around to go the Minute Clinic was excruciating.

Yes, everyone in Arizona knows about Valley Fever, but rarely do any of us sweat it.  Especially if you are not a “ditch-digger”, farmer, excavator or are a native desert rat. Most of us had always heard we should have a natural immunity. HA.

Although it doesn’t look like I have Valley Fever, especially since one of the main symptoms is weight LOSS, it took me back a step.  I left the Minute Clinic with an allergy shot, Sudafed and the hope that by Monday I could breathe without barfing up a lung and/or wetting my pants.

Monday morning rolls around and I am telling my co-worker, between coughs, that I had an allergy shot and am hopeful that I will start feeling better soon.  She seems fairly empathetic.  I am sure she is tired of hearing me hack my way through the work day in the cube adjacent to her.  Fast forward an hour and she is complaining about the lack of cleanliness in her area.  It would seem that our illustrious cleaning crew has once again not vacuumed adequately, and the paper particles under her desk are sparking her ire and making her (more) insane.

With that, The BusyBody Strikes again. She proceeds to dig out the oldest, dirtiest hunk-of-shit vacuum that I have ever seen from a supply closet.

“For the LOVE OF GOD don’t plug that thing in!”, I scream in my mind. To which she answers by plugging it into her cube.  I had thought after our conversation earlier about construction dust, pollen, dust mites and allergy shots that it was made very clear that I have allergies.

I didn’t even bother to ask her to NOT vacuum with that decrepit old thing, I just got up to hit the water cooler and hoped that it wouldn’t turn on.

Of course it turns on. Why would a 30 year old vacuum cleaner NOT work?  I can hear it chuffing along the carpet half a building over.  After several minutes of listening to the load droning of the vacuum in an otherwise quiet office space, I wander back to my area.  All I can see over the top of our cubes is an endless stream of dust pluming out into the air, and raining dust debris all over the cabinets, cubes, chairs and computers. Fantastic. I peek inside to see her diligently vacuuming the same little 3 x 4 foot square and NOTHING coming up- everything just pouring out the top.

Me: “Hey, that doesn’t seem to be working too well.”

BB: “I know! I just wish it would!”

Me: “Can you shut it off now? The dust is just blowing up through the top all over everything.”

BB: “Well, shit. I didn’t see that! Maybe I could empty the bag…”

Me: “NO!  For the love of Zeus, just put it away before you kill me and everyone else.”

To be fair I don’t think she is malicious- but I am starting to have my doubts.

“Oh, are you allergic to dust?”                                                                                                               Found on



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s