The Haught guide to loud sneezers

"Cover Coughs, Cover Sneezes" - NARA - 514081
The problem of loud sneezers in the office is almost universally shrugged away as a mild annoyance. The idea that epic nasal detonations are on a par with double booked meeting rooms or coffee breath is dangerous conventional wisdom.

In fact, those who get to the 130 decibel mark or above are nothing less than a menace that must be ripped from the coalface, roots and all, like the insidious species of human weed they are.

As with any repugnant evil creature – zombies, werewolves, circus clowns – the first step in defeating them is understanding them. So, what do we know about loud sneezers?

Well, the fact that they’re able to live underground in rock walls, whether as part of a slightly mixed metaphor or not, tells us quite a bit. They are imbued with dark magic and not subject to the laws of physics and biology that normal, right-thinking people like you and I are.

They are clinically-diagnosable psychopaths, one and all. Many amplify their naturally cacophonous outbursts by up to 50 per cent, delighting in the suffering they inflict upon those within earshot.

Most derive erotic pleasure from what they consider to be a form of sexual climax. Many will have a little sleep or a cigarette after the act, knowing that there will be no consequences because would-be witnesses are now either seeking medical attention for their aural bleeding or are dead.

The collective noun for loud sneezers is deathgaggle.

Loud sneezers never die, but can be permanently incarcerated like ghosts in the film Ghostbusters. Just don’t cross the streams.

Jonathan Rivett sneezes with tact and discretion, two words that aren’t associated with his blog: 


An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. You can read Benign to Five in those papers every Saturday.

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