City of Austin weighs ban on allergy kvetching

The city seal includes a neti pot, a nod to the area’s reputation as allergy capitol of the world.AUSTIN, TX—Citing massive hits to worker productivity and morale, Austin city manager Marc Ott said the municipal government is weighing an internal ban on allergy kvetching, which he referred to as AK.

“It is here and it is real and it is a problem,” Ott said at a news conference yesterday. “Every day because of AK, hundreds of city employees are forced to sit and listen as their co-workers unburden themselves about how bad their symptoms are.”

“Hearing someone go on and on about how they wore out another neti pot and can’t get an appointment with a nasal polyp specialist is a big enough waste of time,” Ott continued. “But it doesn’t end there. So many of our employees, even the most conscientious among them, are then driven to share their own unpleasant experiences, leading to an AK time-wasting spiral that is straining departmental budgets.”

Employee representatives were cautiously supportive of the proposed measure. “Frankly, I think we all need a break,” said Marilyn Martin, a municipal employee and member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “For this, I don’t give a damn if it’s imposed from on high. Anything that’ll get my office mates to shut the—anything that works, I mean, I’m for it.”

City Manager Ott says if the ban on AK helps restore worker productivity as well as expected, an ordinance expanding it to all local employers could soon follow suit.