There's a woman at work who is genuinely very sweet, but I can't bear to listen to her speak. Every time I see her she insists on telling me insanely long stories with tragic endings that leave me upset for the rest of the day. She's the Chinese Debbie Downer. But like I said, she's very sweet. So I listen with concern, trying to guess which horrible way each story will end.
She just returned to work after a 3-week vacation in Hong Kong. Cornered in the office, I asked how her trip was. This single question set off a detailed account of each day as it related to the progression of an illness that started upon her arrival. (I've mentioned before that when people talk about illness I start to feel sick. So by the time she hit week two of her rundown, I'm quite sure I had a rash or some sort.)
Knowing that the story wouldn't end with her death I asked, "Did you go to the hospital?"
She replied in the affirmative like I'd just spoiled a big part of her story. Pressing on she said, "The doctor said to wait two days and if I still felt sick, they would test me for H5N1."
I did the cartoon double-take and waited for the punch line, but Chinese Debbie Downer doesn't have punch lines, and I started to freak out.
"Wait, so did they test you for bird flu?!"
She stood there giving me a dirty look that said, "If you'd wait five seconds I'd get to that."
I gave her a look that said, "Dude, if you've got the bird flu you best flap the wings and fly because I'm about to flip."
I don't know what the symptoms of bird flu are but I started rubbing my throat with a real panic that a gobbler might start to grow.
She laughed and said it was just food poisoning. And then I got to hear about how horrible that can be.