Sneezing in the Quiet Room: 5 Tips to Recover the Respect of Your Peers

Winston Weigand

If you’ve ever found yourself in the quiet room of Whitman College’s Penrose Library, then you certainly understand the severity of generating a sound louder than five decibels. For clarity, five decibels is quieter than the flustered breathing of a first-year girl who is perusing the Facebook page of that senior TKE whose only articles of clothing are a floral (short sleeve!) button-up and the sunglasses he found in the backseat of his uncle’s Subaru, and who definitely made, like, eye contact with her last Thursday.

One of the most horrifying experiences in the quiet room is the moments leading up to a sneeze. The feeling arises very suddenly. It’s absolutely nothing one second, and then overwhelmingly everything the next second–like a gust of wind, or a sucker punch or a stubborn lactose intolerant’s ferocious diarrhea after dessert. There’s no stopping a sneeze, and when you let out that thunderous, sopping wet shriek in a space that is designated for absolute silence, your peers immediately become your jury. Will they forgive you for your uncontrollable convulsion or will they sneer at you and forever remember you as “that asshole?”

In the case of the latter response, here are five tips for recovering your peers’ respect after you sneeze in the quiet room:

  1.)  Initiate the dialogue. Don’t just go back to writing your paper on the environmental implications of Nietzsche’s obnoxiously big mustache. Openly acknowledge, “Yes, I just sneezed.”

   2.) Apologize. It was your fault that you inhaled that dust, IDIOT. Try being less of a loser and close your nostrils for once.

  3.)  Make a public gesture. Show up to the quiet room the next day in an embarrassing costume, like a tuxedo covered in emojis or a sexy Piglet cosplay. Let them know that you’re fully aware that you deserve some sort of cultural penalty.

   4.) Promise that it won’t happen again. Additionally, you should ensure that you are perceived as very believable–perhaps make a pinky promise or a sudden blood sacrifice.

   5.) Bake them repentance cookies. Just wash your hands first, because they’re probably filthy with all that SNEEZING you’re doing. Seriously, go see an allergist or something, oh my god.