Nail clipping, zit popping and other annoying grooming habits we don’t want to see on the bus or MRT
Last month, Bangkok’s BTS skytrain system announced a "Mind Your Hair" rule for its passengers. Here's what we'd like to see other people minding when taking public transport in Singapore. Because hair flips are so not sexy.
Taking public transport can be stressful, especially when the bus or MRT gets crowded. Even more so if you are unlucky enough to end up next to a fidgety commuter who cannot resist a bout of grooming even while trying to stay balanced in a moving vehicle. Think plucking at strands of their hair, clipping their nails or – the horror – picking their nose or popping zits while being entirely oblivious to everyone else’s discomfort.
Clearly Singaporeans are not the only ones who get the heebie jeebies from other people’s lack of spatial awareness. Last month, Bangkok’s BTS skytrain system implemented a “Mind Your Hair” rule for commuters.
"You should firmly hold the end of your long hair when you turn your face, walk past other passengers and enter or leave the train," the BTS instructed on its Facebook page.
That is totally understandable. My goose pimples still pop up when I think about last week’s bus ride when a wannabe-Rapunzel’s locks brushed over my bare arms as she passed me by, a sensation that no amount of Dettol hand sanitiser can rub away.
As we wait for our own MRT and SBS authorities to issue a similarly precise and well-meaning set of public transport etiquette, here are some other annoying grooming faux pas that should never be seen in public again.
Those long, lustrous locks may have taken hours at the hair salon and gallons of expensive Olaplex products to achieve. But #truthbomb, nobody else cares. When everyone is packed like sardines in a bus or train carriage, it is just not the place to practice your sultry hair flips, even if it is just a teeny, weeny adjustment to fluff up your hair. To the rest of us, all we see is a mass of someone else’s hair invading our personal space, brushing our skin and clothes or smacking us in the face. Eeks.
So, please save the hair theatrics for a more appreciative audience out in the open and keep your tresses to yourself when you commute.
DRIPPING WET HAIR
What’s worse than flinging hair around like you are in a slow-mo video? Doing it with dripping wet hair that dribbles everywhere onto the seat, the floor and even another person’s clothes and shoes. Is it clean water from a fresh hair wash or lots of bacteria laden sweat intermingling with old hair product after an intense gym session? Nobody can really tell but honestly, we don’t care. It’s all yucky.
If there is not enough time to blow dry your hair completely, at least take a minute or two to towel off your locks so that nobody else is at the mercy of unwanted drippings. And remember, it is always chic to bun up long, wet hair to achieve that “wet look” without getting in anyone else’s way.
Completing the trifecta of mane missteps is the baffling habit some people have of combing and styling their tresses while in the bus. Maybe they pressed the snooze button one too many times in the morning but that is really not an excuse to whip out the Tangle Teezer or to start spritzing on hairspray in a bus. Really. Nobody appreciates loose hair strands and dandruff drifting onto them or getting a whiff of noxious hairspray fumes from the person sitting next to them so maybe wait till you have disembarked before fixing your crowning glory.
Speaking of fumes, it is worth remembering that fragrance is often very subjective and one man’s bouquet of roses may smell like a Rafflesia flower to another person. Unfortunately, we have all probably encountered people who have a habit of wearing overpoweringly strong perfumes or deodorant – thankfully mask-wearing helps to reduce the intensity of external smells.
But what can be avoided is resisting the urge to show off your own travel sized bottle of fancy perfume by refreshing your own scent while in the bus or worse, accidentally spritzing others while doing so. No, it is extremely impolite, even if the person next to you is “smelly”.
Not gonna lie, it is actually quite entertaining to watch someone try not to jab their eyes or face with a make-up brush or mascara wand when the train or bus jerks, brakes or makes a sudden turn. Plus, it is hard not to be amazed at the glam transformations that some make-up whizzes are able to pull off in a moving vehicle.
But in these COVIDian times, when masks must be worn while taking public transport to slow the spread of the virus, it can be quite triggering to watch someone ignore this rule just for the sake of beauty. Not to mention, everyone is hypersensitive about hygiene these days so if you cough or sneeze without a mask, get ready for plenty of irritated side eye glances in your direction.
So, if you really must put on make-up in public, just stick to just the eyes and parts of the face that are not covered by the mask. Consider this a compromise for the sake of public health.
As a rule of thumb, grooming activity that leaves behind bodily DNA, like clipping nails is a strict no no while on public transport. Even if you take care to collect the nail scraps, there is a high chance that a stray nail might have richocheted into a fellow commuter’s lap. Not to mention, that “click click” sound made by a clipper is hugely annoying. And just like hairspray, perfume or even durians, pungent smelling products like nail polish or polish remover should not be used in the bus or train.
PICKING THE NOSE OR EARS OR POPPING ZITS
Finally, for the ultimate in commuter fear factor, bad habits like digging one’s nose or ear cavities or popping pimples have got to be the grossest of the gross. It is just not possible to be discreet about this in public and is so cringey that all onlookers cannot help but shuffle a step or two away when this happens. There is nothing more to say except that such practices should only be done in a bathroom, where you can proceed to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.
And still, it can get even more disgusting. I once saw a couple gleefully picking at each other’s zits and cleaning their ears with their sharp pinky nails to while away time on their journey. Was I at the zoo or taking a bus? I don’t know anymore.