Whenever a family in matching T-shirts marches into a Metro station ahead of me, I expect to have to plow through bodies on the escalator. When I asked readers to write in about their transit etiquette issues, I expected to have to plow through a number of responses.
But I wasn’t prepared for the flood that hit my inbox after my July 12 column. I don’t want to be rude — there’s enough of that on trains and buses, apparently — so I’m going to attempt to squeeze as many complaints as possible into this one column.
Sue Zwicker chimed in immediately with her request for “no flossing” signs, after recently having watched a Metro seatmate perform an entire teeth cleaning. Next up came Henry Allen’s list of grievances, including passengers dousing themselves in gallons of perfume. (“I’ve changed trains to get away from the smell,” he wrote.)
Wet umbrellas are Riana Burford’s pet peeve, especially when it’s tough to tell that they’ve soaked a seat. In the recent rainy weather, she’s seen “many instances of fellow riders sitting in the seats only to get up with drenched pants.”
Several folks were fed up about getting smacked by other riders’ belongings. For Bill Long, the issue is Gonzaga lacrosse players: “Their sticks wind up anywhere and everywhere, including across the aisles. Last year another passenger commented, and the stick was used in a threatening manner.”
Anyone with a backpack gets a closer look from Susie McMahon, who can’t figure out how to avoid the curse of flying straps. “My problem is that the wearers are usually unaware or don’t care that they are jabbing someone with their extra appendage,” she said, before asking me for a solution to this issue. “Maybe a word from you?”
Listen up, all of you backpackers! Keep your straps under control. (Susie, let me know if that worked.)
I got not one but two emails from Liz Glanz; with six separate complaints, she needed the extra space. Issue No. 1: “When a Metro car is rather empty and someone gets on and has to sit right behind you.” Even worse than being that close to strangers is being that close to all of their litter. She can’t stand walking around discarded cigarette butts and other souvenirs from folks who “think the Metro is one giant trash can.”
It’s not any better, Glanz added, when those punks abandon their newspapers instead of taking the time to recycle them. As someone who’s always grabbing errant sheets of newsprint off the ground, I agree.
As for Steve Mitchell’s story, I’ll spare you some of the gory details, but it involves a run-in with a nose picker. To be more precise, a picker-roller-flicker whose boogers landed all over the carpet. For 20 minutes.
“Not only is this gross and disgusting, it’s got to be some sort of health issue, too,” he wrote.
I think I know some people with backpack straps that could fix this situation.