They Have A Degree In Being Nuts

, , , , | Working | April 1, 2020

(It’s lunchtime at the biotech company I work for. Pretty much everyone in the company has a biology degree, with at least an essential grasp of immunology, including allergies. Most folks have finished eating their lunch, but someone has put out a bowl of mixed nuts to share while we shoot the breeze.)

Colleague #1: *casually* “You know I’m allergic to almonds?”

(I glance down at the bowl of nuts — including almonds — that we’re all snacking from.)

Me: “Oh, geez! Do you need us to take it away or something?”

Colleague #1: “Nah, don’t worry; it’s not that bad.”

(There’s nothing weird about that; plenty of people are safe to be around foods they’re allergic to, as long as they don’t actually eat it. But just about as the conversation is about to move along naturally, [Colleague #1] picks up and eats a handful of nuts.)

Me: “Uh…”

Colleague #2: “Uh, you know there are almonds in there, right?”

Colleague #1: “Yeah. Don’t worry; I’m only allergic to some almonds.”

([Colleague #3] is also allergic to almonds.)

Colleague #3: “Really? Like, just certain sub-varieties, or something?”

([Colleague #1] just shrugs and pops a couple of almonds in his mouth. My other coworkers and I exchange glances.)

Me: “So, like… is it a cooked/uncooked thing? Or something to do with… seasoning or something?”

Colleague #1: “I dunno. I’m just allergic to some almonds.”

Colleague #4: “How can you tell?”

Colleague #1: “I can’t, until I’ve eaten them.”

Colleague #2: “Is it like, just a mild allergy, then? Like, some itching…?”

Colleague #1: “Oh, my throat closes up and I can’t breathe.”

Colleague #2: “What? That’s really serious!”

Colleague #1: “I mean, when it happens, sure.”

Me: “Do you have an epi-pen on you?”

Colleague #1: “No, it’s not a big deal.”

Colleague #5: “Who even brought these almonds? Maybe we should put them away.”

Colleague #1: “They’re mine. I brought them!”

(He proceeded to snack on another handful of them. The next five minutes saw an entire table of biology professionals trying to convince [Colleague #1] to stop eating food that apparently causes him to stop breathing. We couldn’t, and despite having a biology degree himself, he didn’t seem to understand what the big deal was.)

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