On Vomiting In Public
I’ve typed many words on the subject of vomit. Most of them, you may recall, have to do with my emetophobia. My fear of vomit. It’s been a part of my life since high school. In the presence of vomit, I experience everything from severe unease to full-blown panic attacks. It can be my own vomit (hell, it can be as little as my own nausea!), other human vomit, or animal vomit. It doesn’t matter. I instantly feel sick, lightheaded, out-of-breath, tunnel-visioned…all the telltale signs that a human being is experience a heightened state of anxiety. I find it best to remove myself from any and all situations where vomit might be present. I’ve never witnessed a live food-eating contest. I didn’t go to frat parties in college. I’ve perfected the art of drinking enough to blackout without getting alcohol poisoning. Well, except for two times in my life. Those were the worst nights of my life.
So you could imagine my surprise — and abject horror — when I found myself at work today in a puke-y situation.
There I was, a mere 90 minutes from completing my workday. My boss was closing up his office and I was reminded that I needed to print out some account reports for him. I can do most of this accounting stuff from the way-way-back, but there are a few reports I need to generate and print from the front counter. So, begrudgingly, I put on my best customer service smile and headed into the metaphoric lion’s den.
Within thirty seconds of arriving at the computer terminal at the front counter, I glanced over my right shoulder just in time to see a customer start vomiting all over himself. The bilious bodily fluids were cascading from his mouth. Some of it was retained in the fabric of his white collard shirt, probably due to the extreme girth of his gut. The rest wound up on the floor. Where, I don’t know, I couldn’t look. I chose to simply stare straight down at the floor in front of me. I could hear him coughing. I could hear him ask for a key to the bathroom. I was frozen in place, unable to move or look up from the spot where my eyes were trained.
I listened as my co-workers tried to help the guy, as they handed him paper towels, as they grabbed bottles of disinfectant to help clean the mess on the floor. I could not watch. Mortified isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind.
What happened next was, I’ll admit, probably more fucked up than a guy vomiting in front of me.
He hung around for a while. He shopped.
What the fuck?
Listen, I’ll admit I am not the most socially couth person on the planet. I’ve been known to display a lack of tact in public. Vulgarity in front of small children, drunk and disorderly conduct, inappropriate conversation topics at loud volumes, these are but a few social indelicacies that have been attributed to me in the past.
Even so…if that had been ME who threw up all over himself in public — within thirty seconds of walking into a retail store — there is no way in hell I would feel comfortable hanging around to shop afterwards. And I most definitely would NOT be compelled to say aloud shit like, “I felt it, and I tried to stop it, but…”
Yeah, I know. I was there. We all saw it when you vomited all over yourself. Now have the decency to leave. You just threw up. In public. STOP TALKING ABOUT IT, STOP REMINDING US ABOUT IT, STOP HANGING AROUND IN YOUR VOMIT-ENCRUSTED SHIRT WITH YOUR VOMIT BREATH AND GO AWAY.
Brainbombs – Stinking Memory [MP3]
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