I must warn you that this story might make some people queasy. No seriously, after re-reading it myself, if you don’t like booger-talk, then just skip this one (or email it to your friends that do!). And you don’t need to tell me it has nothing to do with finance. I know it doesn’t, but read the tagline for this site up there in the header and see where else it fits.
Setting the Scene
So I’m riding the metro this morning as usual. I get a seat near a door, which means there’s open legroom in front of me. I decided to take the aisle seat for a change.
A few stops later, a man comes up the aisle from behind me, swings around and plops down into the seat. I only glanced at him (I hate staring), but the first word that popped into my mind was “mess“. He was wearing business attire (slacks and shirt, no tie, like I was wearing). I totally understand if someone is running late and their hair isn’t combed, or whatever, but this guy just didn’t seem to have it together at all. His newspaper was crumpled up in his hands, his bags were wide open and he smelled like he rode his bike 10 miles to the station (not 20 miles, cause that would just smell horrendous). But the smell dissipated as he cooled down so I didn’t pay any more attention.
The Face/Ear/Eye Picking Begins
I have decent peripheral vision, which sometimes comes as a curse, so while reading my own newspaper, I noticed him reaching around his paper and dropping something on the floor from his fingers. Wondering whether it was something I should be aware of, I kept my eye on where his hand would go next.
My Spidey-senses alerted me that he was picking his face, his ears and the gunk out of the eye and depositing it all onto the train floor in front of him. Actually, he was getting most of it into his open gym bag as I saw later. Ok, disgusting and probably a task better left to your own home, but as long as he was keeping it to himself I would just keep reading my paper.
But then he started flinging it. Apparently his running mental tally of organics-to-paper ratio in his bag alerted him that it was getting too full, so about every other “reach” he would fling whatever he dug out. By this point I had been riding next to him for about 15 minutes, and was about 5 stops away from my destination so I hoped to just ride it out.
Aaaaaand Now the Nose
Satisfied that his eyes, ears and acne were sufficiently cleansed (later I did notice he had a very, very pockmarked face so this must be a habit), he turned to other body parts for grooming. First (and hopefully the last) was his nose.
Oh boy, the depth that he got his finger up into his sinus cavity! I was half-expecting it to pop out of his ear! For the next 5 stops (about 5-6 minutes) he cleaned out that nose to the point that I’m sure it sparkled. And of course he would either drop or fling the gold he gathered from his excavation.
Now is the point where you probably ask “Mike, why didn’t you just move to a different seat or train?”. Well multiple reasons. First, I didn’t know the “depths” that he would be going in his morning grooming so I kept thinking I would just ride it out (or he got off the train). Next, I was comfortable where I was. Third, I was stupid and felt that I had earned my rights to that seat and the surrounding personal space. This last one often results in something I call “seat rage” as you’ll soon see.
I was considering whether 1) I wanted to actually say something to this man about what he was doing and 2) what I could possible say to a grown businessman who is picking his nose and flinging it around the train. I was thinking of just asking him “Sir, do you have a tissue you could use instead?”, but it was all decided for me when he lazily flung something unseen my way. I didn’t see anything land, but his hand had ventured over above my leg area and, knowing the direction projectiles fling off the fingertips from my own experimentation, I knew there was a good chance something landed on me.
I turned to the gentleman and said “Sir, could you please refrain from tossing your boogers at me?”
He said “It’s none of your business“.
What?!! That’s just as surprising as the response from the woman with the loud cellphone a year ago!
I replied, “It’s certainly my business when a grown man is sitting next to me, jamming his finger up his nose and then flinging the remnants in my direction! You’ve been doing this for the last 20 minutes!”
There was no time for debate as we pulled up to my stop, but there were a few more words exchanged that alluded to him probably sticking his finger too far up that he pulled out his brains. I did also notice he was wearing a wedding band. I wonder how many times his poor wife has to empty the vacuum cleaner at home from his mess, or if he only does these things on the train. I can only assume that HE’S not the one cleaning up at home.
So yes, I became juvenile, but other than getting off the train and taking the next one and hoping I wouldn’t sit next to another person picking their orifices, what should I have done? Just keep my mouth shut and let this guy think it’s acceptable to fling your skin, boogers, ear wax and eye gunk around public places and onto fellow passengers? I’m not the type to keep quiet unless I perceive a significant threat to my or others’ safety. I didn’t see this guy as threatening unless he tried to put his fingers in my face.
And yeah, this story has absolutely nothing to do with anything else on this site. It’s just my own rant.
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