Public ablutions

Add to the list of Things I'll Never Understand the insistence on grooming oneself on public transportation. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I've filed a nail once or twice while on (or waiting for, or cursing) Muni, but I try to do it as subtly and quickly as possible.

Subtlety and speed clearly did not interest the man performing a serious cleaning of his ears this morning on the inbound train I had the misfortune to board at the same time he did. This cleaning process--stick index finger in ear; move finger around to gather whatever substance is in ear; remove finger to investigate substance before wiping it off on shoulder bag; repeat ad infin-fucking-itum-- lasted from Van Ness to Embarcadero, which is a seven- or eight-minute ride in the best of times, and significantly longer when your train is subject to mysterious waits, as ours was.

I tried to bury my eyes in my magazine, but such is the curse of peripheral vision that the process of emptying this man's aural cavities kept seeping into the corners of my sight. I eventually wised up and turned my back to him, but I still felt queasy and creepingly annoyed.

This begs the question, do people who groom (clean ears, cut nails, empty sinus cavities in an unending series of nose blowings, etc.) in public places (especially enclosed, relatively inescapable public places) do it because they have no idea how unpleasant it is for everyone around them, or precisely because they do know, and are making some sort of statement? Further, if it's the latter, are their lives so devoid of other meaning that they're reduced to making faux political/cultural statements simply by being disgusting? This has put me in high dudgeon.

I hope Squeaky Clean Ear Man is benefiting from his newly-emptied ear canals, and I further hope that the next time he finds himself in need of such grooming, he happens to be somewhere other than on Muni.

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