There's this dude in the office with a major phlegm problem. Either that or he's just got a tic that he's not even aware of. My definition of a "tic" is a habitual physical activity, often caused by nervousness, that is repeatedly exhibited without much awareness he or she is doing it.
Some people scratch, others touch their nose, occasionally people twitch, get sweaty palms and underarms, wrinkle their brows, click their throats, stutter, pick their zits, laugh, hiccup, eat, etc.
There was a Henrik Ibsen play, I believe, that had a character who would touch an imaginary scar on his face whenever he was around people.
Like the dude in the office, my throat tends to get clogged when I get nervous, and I end up clearing my throat more often than usual. Occasionally, my palms get sweaty, too, but that's only when I'm extremely nervous.
But this dude — let's call him dude — is clearly unaware he's going "ahem" every 2 or 3 seconds. I'm not sure what he does here, but it looks like he's a photo retoucher since he uses one of those mouse pens on a graphics tablet. With that kind of work, it's easy to see how you can become so absorbed in the work, you'd lose conscious control over your tics.
I'm not trying to excuse dude's actions here, because they're annoying as hell. I'm just trying to understand them myself, and also recognize that most people (myself included) have tics as well, some of which are probably annoying as hell to other people.
The unfortunate part is that dude sits in a cubicle just across the walkway from me. I could easily go over to dude and explain that he needs to be aware of his tic. But can you imagine if everyone started doing that to whoever had a tic they deemed personally annoying? I'd be fired from every office if I started doing that. And you'd be a major dick, too!
So for now, I'm going to wear my earphones, the kind with the buds that go inside the ear, turn up the iPod and try not to blow out my eardrums drowning out this guy's, er, uh, dude's tic.