PoP Public Service Announcement

When riding the metro please don’t clip your nails. True story. I’m riding the metro this morning and a guy takes a nail clipper out and starts clipping his fucking nails right in the middle of the train. I was freaking disgusted. So I was inspired by my dad speaking out against litter and decided to say something. Let me just set the scene a bit better.

It was rush hour on the Green line and I was sitting down across the aisle from this guy. This guy was well dressed, had leather luggage, was probably 6 feet tall and 275 pounds. It was a fat 275 pounds but I have no doubt he could’ve crushed me rather easily. But I figure we all have our limits and I couldn’t believe he was clipping his fucking nails right in the middle of the train. So I stare at him with a look of disgust and he stares back at me.

So I say “you know that behavior is generally frowned upon in public spaces.” And he says, rather angrily, “that’s what you think”. And I said, “no, that is what is society thinks”. And he says, “no that is what you think.” And it was pretty much a stalemate at that point. I couldn’t believe that nobody else jumped in on my side. He then continues clipping his nails. And the fucking nails are falling on the floor, it was beyond foul. So I ask the lady next to me if I was out of line. And she said, she would rather not give an opinion. Ok.

Well, am I crazy or is clipping your fingernails on public transport generally frowned upon by society?  What’s the worst behavior you’ve seen on the metro?

59 Comment

  • That’s a tough one. I draw the line at toenails. Toenails are definitely out of line. Discrete fingernail clipping, due to a painful hangnail… that’s possibly permissible.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Let me assure you there was nothing discrete about it and he fully clipped all 10 fingers.

  • I’ve seen this happen more than once, but I’ve been too chicken to point it out. I’ve seen it on the bus and on the train and I find it universally revolting. Good for you for speaking up. Don’t think I would’ve done the same.

  • No, that’s totally gross. I’m impressed that you said something. It makes me think of when, as a grad student, I taught undergraduate economics. Occasionally, I’d need to tell my students they needed to show me that they weren’t raised in barns. It’s amazing how difficult that is for people. Yuck.

  • I would have backed you up, Pop! I’m shocked no one else did. It’s completely un-hygienic and just to listen to it while trapped on the way to work is beyond the pale. I applaud you for standing up for common courtesy on the Metro!

  • That is nasty. That is even nastier than getting crapped on by a bird. Twice.

  • That is straight-up disgusting.

    Worst time I’ve ever seen: A guy a few rows ahead of me was CLIPPING HIS TOENAILS ON AN AIRPLANE. True story.

    I really feel like this is stuff that everyone should know.

  • what about filing one’s nails in public? is that considered uncouth or disgusting? i’m torn on whether clipping nails is bad. i probably wouldn’t do it, so i guess it is rude.

  • I assume people who do this are immigrants from developing countries where this must be considered acceptable.

  • I think grooming yourself should be done in your own home, and preferrably in your bathroom if you ever have guests over. Thanks for speaking up! Without people speaking up it would become more and more acceptable to do that sort of thing on the metro.

    That being said, why are so many people afraid to say what they really feel these days? Isn’t that the point of the 1st amendment? Maybe that should be a question of the day…

  • yeah, that’s pretty bad.

    Random aside, I was eating lunch in a park today (not in DC…am out on a trip in Cali) and out of nowhere a big dog came running over and before I could react he chomped my whole plate of chicken shwarma. It happened so fast I was just frozen. It’s kinda funny but, geez. The owner pulled his dog off my lunch but didn’t even apologize, and I didn’t have the nerve ask him to buy me a new lunch. Sigh…. so kudos for you for sticking up for yourself!

  • That is totally gross. Actually, on a plane I could understand, as I hate flying and have some strange habits that make me feel better…. but on metro? yuck

  • Once they start the Pee-Wee Herman “that’s what you think” defense you need to shift tactics. I would have pointed to the sign in the car listing Metro rules and said “See it says so right there.”

    Let him think you are crazy. It might be enough to scare him and make him stop.

  • I don’t think it’s that big a deal. No more unhygenic than wiping your boogers on the seats which people do all the time after they sneeze, or coughing in the enclosed cars, or putting dirty hands on the poles.

    I think we’re getting pretty dainty and sensitive as a societal whole. I wouldn’t mind if Metro was a little less sterile, or if DC on the whole was a little less sterile.

  • you think DC is too sterile? i couldnt disagree more…i would love to ride the metro and not feel like people with that attitude had been sitting there minutes before me, wiping their boogers all over the seat… i follow the 3 second rule when i drop food on the floor, and yeah, i admit to making out with my puppy when she takes the notion to greet me at the door with slobbery dog kisses, but thats me being gross, not subjecting others to it…wipe your snot on your own pants, clip your nails into your own purse/briefcase, wallow in your own filth. i wish dc was more sterile, starting with the people who purposely leave bits of dna behind for the rest of us to trek through…at least then their bad habits would die with them.

  • oh, and i would have had your back PoP 🙂

  • SM I can’t believe that dog ate your lunch and the owner did not even apologize or offer to buy you a new one without being asked! Outrageous! and it was shwarma, even worse! mmm…shwarma.

    As for the nail clipping on the metro, its one thing to clip your nails in public but its another to let them just fall and scatter on the floor. And DCDireWolf, you are right, no more unhygenic than wiping boogers on seats other people use…but no less. It is still filthy.

    PoP way to stand up and say something.

  • Sometimes I think I’m just an old codger when it comes to public behavior these days-but no, Dan-this isn’t normal -excuse me-“normal” or acceptable behavior… My most annoying metro story pales by comparison…. A woman on a phone discussing her sex woes asked me to move from the seat beside her because this was a “private conversation.”

  • That is a HUGE PET PEEVE OF MINE. I HATE nail clipping in public. I’ve seen this on the metro, on the bus, in cafes, it’s everywhere. Rarely do these people actually scoop up their clippings. However, I tend to rely on a dirty look to communicate my disgust and I never say anything directly. Perhaps I’ll think of you next time and say something.

  • wow, reuben, what did you do? please tell me it involved her complete humiliation 🙂

  • Look, when I run into these questions the most important thing to ask yourself is not what is “right” or what is “wrong” but:

    “Howe does holding this belief make you a better person who is reaching their goals faster and happier?”

    (this is extremely important when your friends are off on a conspiracy theory)

    If you can’t answer that with a solid reason then you’re spinning your wheels. seriously.

  • ugh I have seen this at least a dozen times and I never have the balls to say anything about it. So I commend you there. It seriously makes my skin crawl.

    That’s some seriously nasty stuff. Were people raised in a barn? How is that even remotely acceptable to do in a public place!? Metro needs a fine for that, screw the fine for eating.

  • Ruben: What about the youngin’s that have to be TOLD to get up for old folks? What’s up with that? That means that they are not only rude little fellers, but they also apparently can’t read the signs that say it’s federal law to give up your seats to old codgers with trick knees and cranky dispositions.

    The only thing more annoying on the bus are folks that don’t have their fare or pass ready. What? Were you surprised that the bus stopped AT THE BUS STOP? C’mon people, I’m from the south too, but this is ridiculous. Even Forrest Gump had his fare ready to go.

  • Last week on the metro I was in an end of rush-hour car (seats full, a few people standing) with three older teens doing their thing — Blocking the doors, shouting, generally drawing a lot of attention and annoying those around them. They were also drinking huge starbucks frappo-whip whatevers. When the car pulled up at the Shaw station, a girl in the group made a scene of tossing her unwanted half-full starbucks cup out the doors, spilling the contents on the carpet in the train and all over the platform. Everyone around me on the train was looking at this girl who tossed the cup, and she knew it, but no one said a thing, and she just went on with her loud conversation until the CH stop. I was furious, mostly I think because the girl knew that about 30 people had seen what she did, and KNEW beforehand that no one was going to do anything about it. I just stared at her. Honest question: would anybody here have spoken up? What’s the appropriate response to that?

  • My piano instructor used to wear flip flops and clip his toe nails while my sister and I took lessons from him. He also drank alcoholically. When we told our mother–she thought we were making the stuff up to try to get out of playing..

  • Once on a mostly empty metro train, I had a guy get in my face and threaten to “crush me” when for asking, “Why don’t you cover your mouth when you sneeze?” He was a nice-looking young guy in a suit and tie, and I don’t believe he stopped smiling. It was just after evening rush hour. I generally imagine that in New York, both parties would agree that the other should go f— themselves, but the original message would be conveyed and received. Here, any suit will get in a fistfight over that stuff.

    Worst public behavior I HAVEN’T called out is people putting their bare feet on the low tables by the comfy chairs at Starbucks. On that one, I just stopped hanging out in Starbucks.

  • Drunk and filthy homeless dude on bus (H4) was hawking up lugies and spitting right in the aisle. A few ladies behind him started yelling at him that he was nasty, and the whole bus got into calling him a disgusting pig. He gave her a few bad looks, said something bad in Spanish (censored for family blog) and spit again; the lady took her purse, started whacking him with it until he finally had enough and got off at the next stop.

    So, I say just whack a rude dude with whatever you got… he gets off at next stop.

  • The worst I’ve seen on the Metro was a young teenage couple cursing at each other loudly with the guy repeatedly shouting he has going to beat her. My roommate actually saw a kid get beat up by another kid on the platform at Fort Totten. Oh, and a guy on the Metro recently appeared to inappropriately touching himself while looking at me (there weren’t many people around) so I got up and moved to the next car. While I frown on personal grooming in public that involves shedding DNA (as someone earlier put it), I’ve sadly seen worse behavior than that… next time I’ll try whacking the guy with my purse — I let you know how that goes!

  • People are just disgusting. Seems like people who try to be quiet and polite and put their trash in the garbage rather than where ever they can drop it are a definite minority around here. I guess these rats – and yes I think they have no redeming quailities, jsut like rats – have no self respect or dignity. They will certainly not get any from me.

  • I think it’s an issue of crowd psychology. If I had been there and heard PoP pipe up, I would have seconded him and others would have undoubtedly piled on. Nobody wants to stick their neck out alone. Since the woman he called upon for support wimped out, nobody else was going to speak up. It’s sad, but the mob mentality as frequently portrayed on the Simpsons is pretty accurate.

  • That is absolutely disgusting and unacceptable, and it’s great that you reprimanded him. Everyone has an obligation to speak out against inappropriate behavior on the subway and elsewhere, and the woman who was too spineless to provide her “opinion” is a disgrace.

  • Ehhh… IMO, you should mind your own business. It doesn’t affect you. If you don’t want to stare at someone clipping their nails turn around or move. I am pretty sure nail clippings are not the worst thing on the floor of that subway car, and you’re wearing shoes anyway.

    I should disclose that I am used to NYC and Philly trains.

  • Another reason to drive!

  • Not exactly polite, but I don’t see what’s so “unhygenic” about it. I can’t remember ever hearing of someone getting sick from fingernail clippings. And as someone mentioned early, I see girls filing their nails all the time – how is that different? Because it’s smaller particles? Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    I’ve def. seen more disgusting stuff than that on the metro. People just smell bad. That’s why I drive.

  • dc_publius – NYer here. I have to contest that if you are used to NYC trains then you couldn’t possibly be ok with DC trains. NYers know how a city should operate and generally have more class and respect for each other than here in DC. Even in low income, project areas of NY people are more respectful toward others. DC depresses me. Its so close to being a great city, has good diversity, socioeconomically mixed, etc. It could be as well functioning as NY, but is not. The reason: people in DC are rude. The people I am talking about are the ones who have been here forever. Personally, after 10 years I was hoping this would change but everywhere you go its rude, rude, rude. If there weren’t a housing down-turn I’d sell and be outta here so fast. This city is being held back by these loosers.

  • Cristobal-I did get up from the seat ( there were other free seats) because -I don’t know-I could tell this woman was-shall we say-unaware of the endangered species called manners. I was half joking about the generational correlation between said manners and the lack of same in much of today’s world-but many people don’t have any cognizance of private space these days… The private conversation, nail clipping-I could go on- seems to be considered the way it is now…

  • Reuben, you did what I probably would have done but I have to admit I was hoping you had come up with some good zinger…not that it probably would have registered on someone that rude and clueless though.

  • Herb-It’s just too tiring, I guess. I see much of modern life as a kind of gauntlet..
    I mean, how about the increase in hit and run “accidents”

  • Anyone remember Bernard Geotz?

  • I remember Bernard Geotz and the kids he shot. Hopefully, it won’t come to this, despite the fact that public rudeness and inconsideration is at an all time high.

  • I don’t like whne it’s done anywhere in public. The sound is annoying and the projectiles are sanitary waste.

  • i had never heard of bernhard goetz until now, so i read up on him… what an amazing story, like a real life batman. it is a shame that things have to happen like that, but if stories like this didnt dissapear into obscurity, then new generations wouldnt have to relive the lessons to learn them… i dont think anyone should be shot over clipping their nails, but i do often wish for something to wake these ass clowns up and make them realize that theyre not the only people in the world, and theyre not above the law…

  • Pop – Where was your handy camera to get & post picture of this non-conformer?

    Hey to the ladies – Is there groping going on in crowded Metro cars? I hear of it happening in other countries, but never reported here in DC.
    (just curious, NOT looking for an adventure like that)

    If I carried a purse, I’d use it to whack these idiots too. More power to ya!

  • Ugh, I couldn’t handle the nail clipping. I don’t even clip my own in front of others. I don’t know if this is the worst violation, but considering that all of this was happening at one time within one group: On the Green line to or from CH, there were three teenage girls with a toddler. First violation: They had empty McDonald’s wrappers, with sauce containers spilling on the carpet. Second violation: They started painting their nails. Mmm, asphyxiation. Third violation: One of the girls lays down the toddler and changes her diaper, right on the seat. Then there was the night on the Red line: two guys get on, one is bleeding from the face. They ride a few stops, and when he stands up to go he puts his bloody hand on the pole. Needless to say, we record the exact car and door and report it to the station manager.

  • you take around 200 pictures a day and you didnt get a shot of this guy cutting his toe nails. just whip out the camera and i am sure he would stop before you get a chance to take the shot.

  • For the record — nail-clipping on the Metro is not acceptable, but just about everyone here concurs with that.

    My worst Metro story though was back when I was in high school, with a group of friends at Glenmont. A visibly drunk, but also pretty crazy guy in his late 20’s gets on & proceeds to take an entire meal from KFC out of his duffle bag. He then talked to me & my friends about politics, somewhat nonsensically, but at least he offered us some of his chicken & biscuits (we declined). Things took a most unfortunate turn though when he moved to the back of the car and urinated into his KFC plastic bag. To make matters worse, when the train lurched forward, a trail of urine came spilling out of the bag and running down the aisle.

    This was a Friday night though, so this type of story is probably more common on late night weekend rides. But still…

  • Regular, or extra crispy?

  • dc_publius it does effect PoP and anyone else who rides the metro to have someone do something gross and disgusting when it is littering the floor of the train. It makes the train that much dirtier which gives more people an excuse to be disgusting as well until well we are riding on a NYC train…

    RCR nails are pretty disgusting. You have to think about everything the average person touches daily. Even when you wash your hands you don’t clean all the dirt and grime and bacteria off right, well the nails have tighter spaces and less cleaning friction movement going on so hold a lot more of whatever they come in contact with. Some people don’t clean under their nails often and that means older grimier filth. So if you think little moon shaped slivers holding other people’s dirt, urine, feces, bacteria, old food, etc isn’t gross well than great, but the rest of us are pretty disgusted.

  • That is nasty! There was a homeless man on the Circulator a few weeks back, and he was opening a nail clipper package and threw the packaging on the ground. People gave dirty looks but did nothing. Then I spoke up and said, “Pick that up! You’re not going to leave it there, are you?” and he obliged. Then he proceeded to clip his dirty nails, and I looked at him again about to say something. Granted, he held the clippings and didn’t throw them on the ground, but still. Speaking up caused a domino effect, and the guy sitting next to him, one of the former dirty lookers, got the courage to speak up and told him to quit it. He did, thank god. And this man spent the rest of his bus ride holding his dirty nail clippings.

  • I’d braid my hair in a park but would never cut my nails on a train.

  • Well I don’t know about other people, but I definitely don’t have urine or feces under my fingernails. But by that logic, isn’t filing your nails even worse – the dust goes airborn and other people end up inhaling it?

    And if nails really are as gross as contended here, then I know a lot of women who are severely undertipping their mani/pedi-curists.

  • Okay, now I’m confused by some of these rules… is it rude for me to pick my teeth with my Bowie knife on the Metro?

  • Clipping one’s nails in public is gross, whether or not it’s unsanitary. Urine is sterile, and yet I still don’t want someone to relieve themselves on my train. Kudos, PoP, on saying something! I’m just sorry no one backed you up.

    Happily, in ten years I’ve never been groped on Metro. The bus, unfortunately, is a different story.

  • I once saw a Asian woman have her teenage son pluck her chin-hairs — on a bus. Granted it was the Greyhound to NYC, but still, it was a bit much.

  • Thats awesome. I can’t believe you said something…I just would have stewed and choked back the rising vomit…

  • haha at anonymous 4:32..nice 🙂

  • seemingly my workplace has a policy on nail length – no more than 1/4 inches – they cite the CDC as a justification for it

  • @cristobal, i wouldn’t lionize bernhard goetz, i remember reading about his case in one of my classes, and i distinctly remember that there was evidence showing that after he had wounded one of the kids, he walked right up to him and shot him again. it definitely seemed more like a revenge thing then a justice thing.

  • The worst metro experience I’ve ever had was on a green line train. Fairly packed train, but a two seater was mysteriously open, I walked over to about to sit down when, lo and behold, a used tampon was right there on the seat.

    I about the threw up on the spot. I stopped my motion grabbed a rail and pulled myself out. Walked to the other end of the train and luckily found a seat.

    People are disgusting in general and I have not seen anything recently that would indicate an optimistic outlook for society.

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