Informant was a 19 year old male friend who is studying Engineering at Humboldt State University. He came home for the weekend and we exchanged stories about our individual college experiences.
Informant: There’s this thing here called the Humboldt Hack
Collector: What’s that?
Informant: So when people move up there a lot of them develop a really nasty wet cough and people call it the Humboldt hack. supposedly it is caused by the always damp cold air and the mold and mildew caused by these conditions. however I hypothesize that the Humboldt hack actually occurs because people smoke all kinds of stuff they have never smoked before and they smoke more of it than they ever thought possible and thus they develop a cough because no matter what you are smoking it is bad for your lungs. Either way all the sinks and showers in the bathrooms always have nasty phlegm in them that people cough up. Super gross.
Collector: Ew. Who told you about the hack?
Informant: Umm, multiple people. Jacquie, for one, but she is Mormon and she doesn’t smoke anything. She lives on the first floor of my building but mostly resides in my room.
This legend seems to have some evidence that makes sense, according to my informant. I’m not entirely sure how mildew and mold affects the function of the lungs, but it seems to be a valid reason. Although, my informant’s theory also seems likely since Humboldt State is known for their…recreational activities. This hack thing was probably developed in order to dissuade students from harming their lungs further with illegal substances by telling them their lungs are already being affected by the very air they breathe.