Bathroom Behavior on the Subway
Some people have told me that my violent reactions to public nail clipping are a bit over the top, that it's merely a minor annoyance. Minor my ass. That clip-clip-clip sound drives me nuts. And these clip-happy offenders don't just clip in broad strokes and get it over with quickly. No, they go at each nail with five or six minuscule clips in the most leisurely, ponderous fashion. That makes at least fifty clips for a pair of hands. Fifty annoying clicky clips! And then they leave the detritus of their bodies, crumbs and dust of nail, all over the floor of the subway car, a public conveyance, dammit! I don't know what annoys me more: the clipping itself or the lack of regard for others.
And then there are the women who apply makeup from scratch during their commute. I'm not talking about a quick lipstick refresher; I could live with that. I mean multiple layers, multiple brushes, the whole shebang. I know nothing about makeup, but I'm guessing that at the very least we're talking about foundation, blush, powder, eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. Have I left anything out and have they no shame? Isn't that what powder rooms are for? I realize that they're trying to save time in the morning by not doing this at home, but it annoys the hell out of me. Call me old fashioned, but there are some things one just doesn't do in public. Whenever I see one of these women doing their in-transit maquillage I secretly hope for a sudden jolt of the train that will bollocks up their handiwork.
In addition to the clippers and the makeup ladies, there are the nose pickers. And it's not furtive picking either. These people pick with great glee and gusto, oblivious to the passengers around them. Who knows how many boogers and pieces of fingernail I'm stepping on every morning.
I realize that some public behaviors I find annoying or disgusting are acceptable in other cultures. Indeed, while I was traveling in China I saw so many people spitting big gobs of sputum and phlegm onto train platforms that I felt like a party pooper for not joining in. But, unless I'm mistaken, there was a time in New York when people, for the most part, restricted their bathroom behavior to the bathroom. Something has changed over the years. My friend Manda believes the advent of the Walkman had something to do with it. It cut people off from the greater public as they tuned into their music and themselves.
There's probably no turning back, but I have a modest proposal for the New York City subway system. I propose that certain behaviors be restricted to certain lines. Nail clipping could be confined to the N train, makeup to the M train. Since N is already spoken for, we could put the nose pickers on the B for booger train. I'll tell you one thing, though. If my plan is ever adopted you can be sure as hell I'll be avoiding the number 1 and number 2 trains like the plague.