So, I've been on fire assignments for the last 3 weeks, which isn't conducive to blogging, considering that I'm working from 5:30 am to 10:00 pm, with the first meeting at 6:00 and the last at 9:00. Added to this it is about 100 degrees out. Predictably, disease started to sweep the fire camp. When this happens, we tend to find the first person on our crew to fall ill and blame him or her. Usually, this person looks and acts fine until they suddenly erupt into a sneezing, coughing mess, thus ensuring they have touched everything and infected everyone prior to their symptoms appearing. We call this person the "Carrier Monkey." Meanwhile, the Carrier Monkey seeks desperately for someone else to blame it on. This can cause a few hours of mild amusement, that is unless you have already been infected, in which case you miserably observe the discussion while begging the stingy medical tent to dole out some NyQuil.
After being infected by the carrier monkey, I ended up getting laryngitis for a few days. While this had some benefits, including not having to make the daily long town drive because I appeared to be so sick, and not having to speak at briefings, I made some interesting discoveries while not able to talk.
1. People don't like silence. I knew this already, from once having a supervisor who would call people into his office and stare at them disapprovingly without saying a word. Eventually the flustered employee would sing like a canary and tell the boss all kinds of things he never intended to ask.
While I couldn't talk, people felt they needed to fill the silence. They chattered away, and kept asking questions, forgetting I couldn't answer.
2. I realized that about 30% of what I usually say is probably useless babble. I know this because when I couldn't talk, I would think of something to say, and would have to weigh whether it was important enough to attempt to whisper/croak it to the other person. Usually, it wasn't.
3. You listen a lot better when you can't answer. Everyone knows this, just like everyone thinks they are a great listener, but in reality, a lot of the time we are only half listening, and often thinking of what we will say when the other person finally stops talking! Because I couldn't talk, I ended up really listening.
4. People give you stuff. Whole bags of Ricola cough drops, cold medicine, cookies. If you look pitiful enough they even make you dinner.
Now I have recovered enough so I merely sound like I have a case of PGV (Party Girl Voice). The Carrier Monkey, of course, was over the illness in two days (this is also a common characteristic of Carrier Monkeys: it doesn't hit them hard). I'm still not talking much though. If nothing else, it should make the minions nervous.