Morning rush hour on the subway is usually quiet… 

Morning rush hour on the subway is usually quiet. The mental fog has not yet lifted and talking is at a minimum, so people keep to themselves. No one is selling anything or pandering for money. I wonder if the commuters on the lines going to the financial district spend the a.m. rush pumping each other up because they have to be ready for the trading bell. Those of us on the west side lines generally stare at nothing in a trance-like state.

This explains why I can hear a clicking noise coming from the other side of the car. The clicks are irregular and it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact location until I see a woman give up her seat to stand near the door. Now that she’s gone I have a clear sight to a man clipping his fingernails. The nails are flying. Then he bites what remains of the cuticle and spits it out. I shudder and close my eyes to blot the image out. But I can still hear the clicks. It’s like nails against a chalkboard. This is why man invented iPod. I jam my earbuds in and turn the volume up. Think puppies, balloons, the Yankees, the latte I’m going to get on my way to work. Anything to get my mind off the image. The only consolation is that he’s not clipping his toenails.

I’m trying to let my eyes rest elsewhere and that’s when I spot an elderly woman flossing her teeth just a few seats down. I wish I could say that she is discreetly trying to extract something from an incisor. She’s examining the stuff that comes out on the floss and then putting it on her tongue. Just writing this down is enough to stimulate my gag reflex.

Of course flossing is part of good hygiene, it’s something we should all do, not just the morning we have our teeth cleaned, etc., etc., so before you alert the ADA, you should know I’m simply advocating boundaries. Certain things are privacy-of-your-own-home things, like smoking in New York City and watching Deal or No Deal.

Are these people sane but just confused about public versus private spaces? Maybe they only appear sane but are really fresh from Belleview. I know there are crazy people, let’s call them quirky, everywhere. But in New York, quirky people aren’t confined to their cars and backyards. They’re on the train clipping their fingernails.


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