Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Public Service Announcement

On today's bus ride I encountered something I've seen before: a woman with curlers in her hair. In public. On the bus. This got me thinking about two things. The first being, what motivates someone to leave their house with curlers in her hair? Did she forget? Is there a lack of mirrors in her house? Would those extra ten minutes during the bus ride make all the difference for the curls? I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who was once discovered to have a curler in her purse. When questioned about it by us, her friends, she admitted that she often drives with this curler in the front of her hair, because, yes, those few extra minutes really do make a difference to the curl. Mystery solved.

The second thing I thought about has many more layers than simple curls. This is the phenomenon of people who think that public transportation is their own personal grooming lounge. Sure, most of us are guilty (at least the women among us) of touching up our lipstick on our way into the office. I can understand that. But in the course of my many years riding Metro and the bus, I have seen it all, including a perfectly normal-looking man drinking beer on the train at 8:00 a.m. I wasn't particularly aggrieved seeing him, but I have seen other things that have set my teeth on edge.

What does rankle me are the people who choose to trim their nails on the train -- the clip, clip, clip echoing through the train. I have seen this many times . . . and usually the person doing the clipping is allowing the clips to fall where they may. Another thing that totally grosses me out is the nail-filer. This culprit shapes her nails, flicking and snapping her emery board to and fro as she whips dust into the Metro air. Yuck!

Also ire-inspiring are the people who feel the need to tweeze on the twain, er, train. I don't know about you, but I can barely see to read my book in the soft yellow lighting in the the trains, let alone yank persistant facial hair out by its root. Not to mention that it takes a pretty steady hand to tweeze one's face. The rocking, bumping, jarring motion of the train is hardly an optimal environment for this sort of hair removal.

One time I even saw a guy flossing his teeth. That one made me almost throw up a little in my mouth. The whipping and snapping of the floss and the little bits of food and spit and who-knows-what-else becoming airborn in a public space was not good. Fortunately, he was not sitting near enough for me to be in the line of fire. But it did make me think about how easily this man might catch and/or spread the swine flu. Talk about a pig . . .

But perhaps the best (or worst) personal grooming habit I've seen was the time this woman was painting her toenails on a rush hour Metro train. Talk about needing a steady hand. I was fascinated by Train Toe-Polishing Woman and stared at her for a long time. First, she wrenched her foot up next to her, pretzel-style, removing her shoe and sock. Holding the bottle of polish in one hand and the brush in the other, she delicately lacquered her nails. TT-PW stopped short of using those little toe separator things that keep your toes from smudging the polish. And when I left the train, she was starting on the second foot. I couldn't help but wonder was she going to put on those little styrofoam flip flops that they give you in a salon and shuffle off the train while her nails dried, or would she wait till they were completely dry and simply put her shoes and socks back on?

The point of all these tales? A public service announcement to my fellow transit riders. The next time you are running late and think perhaps you'll finish getting ready during your commute, please consider your fellow riders and reconsider your grooming. And keep the tweezers off the twain.


  1. Ewwww - I hate when people clip theor nails in public. I sit at my desk and have to listen to my boss do that. Oh and the flossing the teeth thing...I would have had to get off the twain. Ick!

  2. It was gross...but I see gross stuff all the time on the train and bus. Gotta love the city!

  3. I think a poster with one simple rule could solve a lot of this: If it involves leaving parts of your DNA behind, wait till you get home ... you f*&%ing weirdos.