The Little Brown Man

October 28, 2014 at 8:22pm

I kiss and hug my friend, Superman, at the rotunda and we each head down our respective concourses. I am exhausted. My feet hurt. My chest feels like it’s been filled with the stuff that makes fart noises when you pack it into its container. But i’m smiling. I’ve had a most awesome weekend, and i’m on my way home to my weedlings.

I stop at the Starbucks and order a tea-latte-formerly-known-as-London-Fog and a scone. Make my way to the gate. It’s pretty crowded, 30 minutes to boarding, but there’s a seat by the windows. I plunk my tired arse down, smile and nod to the other passengers around me, settle my bags and dig into my scone. It tastes good, but as scones are wont to be, it is rather dry. I start to cough. Take a sip of my TLFKALF, but it’s piping hot, so it doesn’t help. Still coughing. It sounds terrible, all wet and gunky and crumb spewing. It hurts even worse. People are staring. My abs, or what passes for them anyway, are clenching. It stops long enough for me to catch my breath and grab a pack of kleenex from my purse.

Then it begins again. My eyes are watering, my nose is running, and i think i may have wet my pants. This is the cough to end all coughs. I can’t see. I can’t breathe. I’m so hot that i’m certain my clothing has caught fire and my own sweat has put it out. My rib cage is ripping in half and my trachea is exploding. People are picking up their bags and moving away as i cough up Jimmy Hoffa. Pleasegodpleasegodpleasemakeitstop.

And it does. For about 15 seconds.

Then it’s a tsunami of force from my gut so hard that i nearly blow a hole in my sleeve where i have buried my face. All of my senses have deserted me, i most certainly have wet my pants, the other passengers are cowering in the corner no doubt thinking i have ebola, and the ticket agent is on the phone, i am certain, with the TSA. I cough until i there is so much negative pressure in my lungs that if i could breathe, i’d likely suck in the racks of chairs around me with my next breath. I desperately try my drink one more time. It helps. I sip again. it starts to wane. I wipe the snot from my face with my kleenex, stuff all the icky ones into my starbucks bag, wheeze in some blessed recycled airport air and slump down in my seat. Then i hear the voice.

With a backdrop of horrified passengers, a tiny man appears in front of me. Indian, Armenian, something short, dark, and kindly like that. And in his sweet, lilting voice, he says, “I think you need this.”

He drops a Ricola into my hand, smiles with genuine empathy, and backs away.

I am so stunned by the smallness, and yet hugeness, of the gesture that i am at a loss for words. I clasp the cough drop to my chest, look at him, smile and nod, and then gather my things. I will clean myself up, drink my tea, and the world will be right again. All because a little brown man gave me a piece of Swiss corn syrup.

It isn’t the medicine that heals, it is the kindness.

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