Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meg Wood -- Bus Etiquette: A Primer on Picking

It’s back-to-school time here at the college campus where I work, and with each year comes a new horde of students boarding my bus every morning, fresh-faced and ready for class (at least until the second week, anyway, when they start to look bored and ready for Friday). Some of these students catch onto bus etiquette fairly quickly. Others, however, seem to require a bit more guidance.

Take, for example, the guy sitting catty-corner to me on the bus this morning. Who was, of all things, picking his nose. Not just a subtle scratch ("I wasn't going to pick my nose, I was going to thump him!" -- name that movie) or a casual quick dig for a boog that was driving him bananas. This guy spent a good ten minutes rooting around in each nostril, elbows-deep, like his fingers were French sows that knew that somewhere, deep in those crevasses, there were truffles to be had.

He'd grope around in there for a second or five, then drop his hand to his knee and casually rub his fingers together to drop the detritus onto the bus floor. From the way he did this latter move, I could tell he was actually attempting to be subtle about it -- at least he wasn't flicking the stuff clear across the aisle or, worse yet, tucking it behind his ear for later. But what I found particularly amusing about the whole thing was that, out of the corner of my eye, I could see he was closing his eyes every time he brought his hand up for the pick. This is something I call "The Bugblatter Beast of Traal" mentality, wherein you think that if you can't see others, they can't see you (see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for details on the BBoT, and don't forget to pack your towel, you hoopy frood).

My cat does this too, though you may want to note here that she has a brain the size of a peanut. In her case, what she does is hide by sticking her head under the bed, leaving the rest of her body out in plain sight. Whenever I walk by and see this, I cannot resist sneaking up and tugging gently on her tail. "Whaaa...?" her shocked face will exclaim as her head whips out from under cover and whirls in my direction. "How did you find me? I was invisible!"

Now, if only there were a comparable action I could've performed on the Nose Pickah, because clearly someone needed to clue him in to the fact he wasn't being nearly as clandestine as he seemed to think he was. However, of course, he had no tail on which I could gently tug, and besides, it's considered bad form on the bus to grab at anybody's backside for any reason, ridiculously deserved or not. Also, he was actually sitting on said backside anyway. I suppose I could've leaned over and flicked him on the forehead, but, well, I didn't think of that in time, I guess.

Dear Nose Pickah: just because you can't see me watching you systematically mine your nostrils for gold does not actually mean I'm not watching you systematically mine your nostrils for gold. By the end of the ten minutes, I had run through so many emotions I was pretty much over being grossed out and had moved smoothly into a state of utter amusement. Luckily, before I could start tittering behind my sleeve (I'm so immature), a young girl, probably a high school student (though these days, all the college kids look 16 to me, which is how I know I’m officially OLD) came and sat down next to him and that made him quit. He probably thought, and rightly so, that said someone would not appreciate having boogers dropped so closely to her own knees and feet. It was a full bus on a rainy morning, after all -- not a hotbed of tolerance, patience, or joy, typically.

Anyway, if it turns out that Nose Pickah is a regular, I think I will be steering clear of him for a while. At least until the second quarter -- ostensibly, he will have learned some things by then. It's not that I think there's anything inherently bad about picking your nose -- haven't we all done this at one time or another? I don't even really have a problem with eating boogers, though it's not a delicacy I have a taste for myself. I guess it's more germophobia than anything else. Well, that and the image of one of his truffles permanently attached to the bottom of my shoe for the rest of the day. Now that's gross. No, like, really gross, now that I think about it.

Okay, so, to sum up, for all you n00bs out there:

1. Do not pick your nose on the bus;
2. Do not think that closing your eyes means I can't see you;
3. Keep your truffles to yourself;
4. Do not put anything in your nose smaller than your elbow, including your elbow;
5. Welcome to college.

Meg Wood can be even goofier than this. Check it out, IF YOU DARE: and

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