I apologize in advance for the gross factor in this post. I am not a fan of PHLEGM per se, but it’s integral in my story (unfortunately) and so I’m bound to mention it.

During our recent visit to Oregon, we stayed at a fantastic hotel in Portland for a couple of nights. We arrived the first evening, exhausted after a l-o-n-g ten hours or so in the car and ready for something decent to eat. I was on a guy trip, so pepperoni and chips had filled my senses en route and a civil dinner sounded like heaven. We couldn’t handle the thought of jumping back into our vehicle, so opted for a meal at the hotel restaurant.

1

It was around eight o’clock and only three or four tables were occupied in the large seating area, so I was a little surprised when the host showed us to our specific place. It was squished snugly next to a group of three men, and we had to shimmy into position around a walker belonging to the most elderly of the group.

Oh well, no problem. Maybe the host was trying to use one small section of the dining area so the server didn’t have to run around like crazy. Understandable. Plus we’re British, so we don’t like to complain! (Stiff upper lip.) We perused the menus and whilst making our selection, we couldn’t help noticing the elderly gentleman seated incredibly close to us seemed to have a problem.

Like a PHLEGM problem.

I chanced a glance, and saw he had one of those oxygen plastic thingies attached to his nose, and I thought, “Oh, poor love.”

2

Again, with the phlegm clearing- it was a doozy and sounded like he was going to bring up a lung. This time I made the mistake of making eye contact with my husband and sons. Stiff upper lips began to fail. We felt a little giggly and awkward, but tried to ignore the guttural throatiness, which was now erupting every couple of minutes.

Really,  I’m the LAST person who will ever make a complaint or a fuss in a public place. I hate confrontation, or even the notion of it. Seriously, I’ve bought an apple pie with a fingernail baked right in and didn’t have the heart to take t back. Cold food? I wouldn’t moan. Wrong salad dressing? I’ll suck it up. But PHLEGM… while I’m eating?

I don’t think so.

I was close to gagging point by now, and very uncharacteristically took a stand. “I have to move,” I whispered to my guys, “I’m not going to be able to eat with this phlegm gem doing his thing.” They watched- my sons rather mortified that I would be so “rude” (boys apparently can endure way more on the gross scale) and my husband astounded at my un-Laura-like stance, as I walked confidently to our server and explained my predicament.

3

Of course, I apologized profusely for being such a nuisance, and explained that he was a very sweet old man and I felt terribly sorry for his poor health (although one would think the amount of gin he was washing down his throat would have dislodged said phlegm!) and I even gave an accurate impression of the AAAURRRGGGGHHHHHHOOOOWWW sounds.

Immediately, we were given the pick of any table we liked, and we sauntered away from the phlegm as subtly as possible. Which, quite honestly, wasn’t subtle at all. We almost died of embarrassment, but I was in survival mode.

Dinner was great.

My point here? Not that I saved the day for my men folk, because my husband was ready to make the move, too- I just beat him to it out of sheer desperation. It’s more that I FOUND MY VOICE, and acted on it straight away. Ordinarily, I would have let it ride, not made a fuss, buried my head in the sand. But for whatever reason, I got all confident and made my point, in a “polite yet firm” way. It made me think where else I should be taking a stand and voicing my concerns.

What rattles you?

Are you one to speak up when a situation is not acceptable, or when a moral issue is being handled poorly, or when you get the opportunity to stand up for your faith? Would you go to the wall for your family or just close your eyes and hope for the best.

We all have a God-given voice; I guess it’s merely a question of how we are going to use it.

5

Or if we even want to go to the effort of clearing our throats at all.

Again, apologies for the whole phlegm thing, especially if you are were eating whilst reading this. Hopefully, you’ll look beyond my pithy little story, and challenge yourself to find your voice in life, wherever you are.

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