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I'll Give You Something To Sniff About

If there’s one thing worse than someone who types loudly in a library, it’s someone who sniffs incessantly; patrons whose post-nasal drip parallels a poorly maintained urinal. Every sniff ruins the concentration of others nearby, whose subsequent tutting contributes to further disturbance, and is, ironically, even more irritating than the sniffing instigating it. Often, sniffers aren’t aware they’re doing it, and if they do, they consider it an acceptable side-effect of breathing, much like the drips from an evaporative air-conditioner. The difference is that you can turn an air conditioner off. If this is done to a sniffer, it can result in prosecution and potentially a life sentence, depending on how irritated any witnesses were to begin with. Alternatives to murder include offering the sniffer a tissue, or taking a pickaxe to their face in a more convivial manner resulting in manslaughter. When their sniffing is pointed out, it tends to provoke either excuses or animosity; excuses in the form of a supposed medical condition, which is where the pickaxe can be useful in a curative sense, or animosity, which may also involve pickaxes. Alternatively, they might apologise and refrain momentarily, before their sniffing returns with the sort of fervour that generally costs a dollar a litre to run. They might also ignore the request altogether and sniff so loudly that you’d think they’re haemorrhaging cerebrospinal fluid after having the base of their skull cracked. Which is, ironically, exactly what happens if you take a pickaxe to their face.

I find the best result comes from borrowing a book and going home. There’s less blood and bail isn’t a consideration. It’s also easier to drink tea when you get there.


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