Public grooming gives reader the creeps

ADVICE

April 02, 2006|By HARRIET COLE | HARRIET COLE,UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have to revisit how gross it is when people groom themselves in public. I was on the train this morning with a middle-aged woman who was filing her nails with an emery board in the seat next to me. It was such an intrusion on my space!

I was so confused about what to do, but I will say my immediate reaction was disgust. I then noticed a young woman doing the same thing on another part of the train. I hope I am not being too sensitive. To me, nail clippings are the worst. But filing your nails and all the dust that comes from it is no less gross! What could I have said?

TYLER, New York, N.Y.

TYLER: Unfortunately, grooming has moved out of the bathroom and into public spaces, partly because people commonly commute for long periods and, to cut down on their prep time at home, they extend their grooming hours to the time it takes to get from home to work. That said, I don't think that a brief use of an emery board is so horrific.

If one has a broken nail or some other emergency nail situation, it makes sense that she or he would mend it as soon as possible. That's very different from full-on nail grooming on the train. The same goes for painting one's nails in a public space.

I was recently on an Amtrak train when a young woman began touching up her fingernails with polish. I quietly told her that the smell would likely permeate the entire car, so she might want to stop. She graciously and immediately stopped, and said that the idea of the smell traveling hadn't occurred to her.

Concerning the emery-board user, I probably would not have said anything to the person. I may have chosen to move my seat, if possible. On your behalf, I will say to all who choose to complete their hygiene in public, please refrain!

Send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com.

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