Tag Archives: disgusting habits

Why Do People Cut Their Nails in Public?

28 Jun

So today I was reminded of one of my biggest pet peeves:  people cutting their nails in public places, most notably on the subway.  This afternoon I dragged my exhausted self into the city for an appointment with an extra large, extra caffeinated iced coffee in hand, while reading an article on Alzheimer’s research (for those of you wondering, any sort of progress towards a cure seems sort of hopeless at the moment).  I was really excited that the R train came right away and that, even though the N had passed on the express track while I was two stops away from Atlantic Avenue, when I arrived I found it waiting there with open doors, inviting me to enter. I hustled across the platform next to an equally excited woman who was eating pork rinds.  I settled into my seat, drinking my coffee, reading my magazine, generally feeling happy about my insane train luck and then I heard it.  Click, click, click.  I have this like, really keen sense of hearing when it comes to people clipping their nails.  I started looking around the car to find the culprit and there he was, a young man, probably in his 20s.  He was sitting next to his girlfriend, hunched over, shedding his nails all over the train floor.  Yuck.

Before I get a little more into this, let me just say that if my boyfriend were to start cutting his nails in public I would break up with him then and there.  That, to me, is a sign of a complete inability to discern that which is disgusting from that which is not disgusting and I do not want to date someone who thinks that doing something disgusting in public is normal.  To me, nails should only be cut when you are alone, in the bathroom, with your hand or foot dangling over the garbage can to try and catch as many errant nails as possible.  It is then important to sweep.  There is nothing worse than walking around the house, feeling a prick on the bottom of your foot and then discovering that someone elses nail is stuck into your skin.  A guy I used to date used to cut his nails on the coffee table while he watched TV, collect them into a neat pile and then deposit them into the ashtray.  I had to leave the room.

Anyway, sometimes I think that people who cut their nails in public literally follow me around.  I encounter one such person in the subway at least once a month.  When I was on my way to New Orleans in late February, the woman in front of me on the plane was cutting her nails.  One time I saw a cab driver cutting his toe nails (thankfully I was not in the cab at the time).  I have seen them on the bus, on the train platform, I have seen nail clippers dangling from key chains.  These people are everywhere.  They are everywhere and they are always cutting their nails.  Do their nails grow faster than other people’s?  Are there just thousands of people who find cutting their nails in public appropriate?  What is the thought process behind this?  Do these people simply not notice that their nails are long when they are in the privacy of their own homes?  Are their lives that busy that they have no choice but to cut in public?  And why in the world do they have nail clippers with them on the go anyway?  Of all the things I might think to throw in my bag, nail clippers are nowhere on the list.  And then you have to wonder, do public nail clippers do other yucky things in public as well? Do they floss out in the open?  Do they pick gunk out of their belly buttons while sitting at a red light? Do they pop zits at the dinner table?  These are all things that I wonder whenever I encounter a nail clipper out in the wild.  These are all the questions I silently asked myself as I suffered through the click, click, click of a public nail clipping event just this afternoon.

Seriously, one of these days when I am on the train and this happens, I am going to politely approach the offending individual and ask him or her why.  Either that or I am going to siddle up next to the person, snatch the clippers out of his or hand, and throw them violently across the train, taking care to not hit anyone in the head with them because that would hurt.  I will let you know how this goes.

As a final point, I would like to quote from my friend Mandy’s response to my Facebook posting about this very incident:

“The cutting of one’s nails in a public place should be condemned openly and publicly. It is revolting and I don’t understand why people don’t know this.”

Mandy, I could not agree more.