office life: understanding itchy backs and sneezes

In my two most recent “office jobs,” I’ve noticed two reoccurring phenomenon: itchy backs and sneezes.

There may be more to that itch than meets the fingers.

My last boss frequently visited me in my office to see how I was doing.  He’d stand in the doorway, and by 30 seconds in, he’d be unconsciously rubbing his back against the doorframe.  A little bear in the office jungle, rubbin up on some office bark.  Doing the doorway shimmey.  Observing the same thing in my current employment, I wondered what is it that drives these men to give in to their inner bear?

I mean, this kind of behavior must be contrary to some social norm.  It’s got to be.  Or is it one of those, “I’ve reached __ years so I’ll _______ wherever I so please,” type of deals?  And yeah, you can just imagine what some people put in that second blank.

Well, apparently as you get older your skin tends to get dryer, and this may cause itchiness.  Then there’s something called Notalgia Paresthetica.  Like nostalgia, it’s prevalent among those of advanced years.  NP is a localized itch commonly located on the upper back or shoulder blade.  While the causes are unknown, it may be related to nerves and such.

Even Wikipedia notes that the afflicted “commonly find themselves scratching their back[s] on doorposts etc, as the location can be hard to reach.”  So that satisfies my itch.  I now understand what makes my boss itch and know what to get him for Christmas.  The proverbial 2 birds, 1 stone sitch.

Sneezing: different strokes for different folks.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people always seem to be sneezing.  The guy located two offices down is an atomic sneezer with the best vocal follow-through I have ever hear.  It’s a real “Ahh-ChuuUUUUU!!”  Because, ya know, sneezing is like swinging a golf club.  The majority of the stroke occurs after you hit the ball.  It’s all about the follow through.

It brightens my day every time I hear that sneeze.  While I’ve never actually witnessed it in person, I can only imagine he’s got the look of ultimate satisfaction after belting out of those bad boys.  People don’t even bother saying “bless you,” or “gesundheit.”  Nay, they respond with a simple nod and distinguished golf-clap.

So I got to thinking, why are sneezes so different?  I’ve seen some inaudible ones, heard some mouse ones, and have recently been enjoying the window-rattlers.  There’s the machine-gunners who only do it in threes, and my old roommate would do it every time he cleaned his ears.  Or did he cough? Can’t quite remember… Oh, I almost forgot- your dog can sneeze in reverse.

So I did some googling, and here’s what I’ve found:

Overheard on the forums:

Some people believe that sneezing can be controlled in the same way that flatulence can be.  Others disagree.  Some get called in by their bosses down the hall, just so the boss can say “bless you.”  Others rather hear a sneeze than witness their male co-workers re-adjusting their man setups.

One guy wondered why sneezing elicits such a response of blessings, yet a violent cough gets squat.  He’s also of the opinion that Romans congratulated people for sneezing.  Some people sound like 3 year olds when they sneeze and are embarrassed to do it in public.  Read the entire conversation here– it’s quite enlightening.

In celebration of sneezes:

This site views sneezing as the voice of your nose, and believes that we should be “embracing the spasmodic interruption and celebrating the sneeze for its unique, and sometimes orgasmic merits.”  Those who restrain their sneezes may be conflict adverse.  Those who make it short and quick likely value efficiency.  That successive sneezer you hate?  She just may be a creative and charismatic individual.  Here’s one I didn’t know: it seems to be quite common for people to sneeze as a result of light sensitivity.  So your computer screen or window may be bristle’n them nose hairs.  Credit to this interesting site for the preceding “facts”.

There are three main causes for air quality problems in offices.  Read here to learn more.  Perhaps it only seems like people sneeze more in offices because we are around them for extended periods of time.  But I’d rather think of the office as a sneeze factory.

Now, if only someone could figure out how to harness the power of the sneeze…

PS: If you really want to make a name for yourself, try becoming the guy or gal who sneezes with their eyes open.  Great for parties.

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3 thoughts on “office life: understanding itchy backs and sneezes

    1. You are in fact welcome at this time. Surprisingly, most my google traffic stems from some combination or sneeze and itchy backs…hmmm

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