During the SARS scare, I was amused at people who to me seemed to take unnecessary precautions to ensure their health.
Masks, gloves, I even saw this old auntie once take out a disinfectant and spray it on an MRT seat before sitting down near the edge.
She didn’t lean against the transparent wall, for which I understand perfectly. I’ve seen a lot of oil stains on that wall.
But I wasn’t the kind to try that kind of cleanliness campaign. Not that I’m a dump, but I believed that basic courtesy and respect for common hygiene would be sufficient.
I mean, we all have a little understanding of basic etiquette don’t we? Cover your mouth when you cough, blow out a nose with a tissue, and make sure you wash your hands before coming into contact with public items.
I really didn’t think much of all those documentaries which took UV light on public transport buses and showed the bacteria crawling around, and even if I did see cockroaches running along the ledges of the bus, I kept my mouth shut. Not like the bus company could do much about it. Spraying disinfectant and insecticide nightly was probably the max.
But perhaps these examples can be attributed to unfortunate incidents. Passengers leaving food crumbs. Breeds stuff. However, yesterday I had an experience on the train that left me with a much deeper appreciation for Aunt Dettol.
After returning from a hectic shopping trip to buy a Christmas cum birthday present for my mother, I hopped onto the train packed full of people home. Not surprising, it was holiday season. I could not keep myself occupied as I usually did with my palmtop, so I ended up surveying the crowded cabin.
A repetitive motion caught my eye. A guy not two feet in front of me, rubbing something. He picked at it for 5 whole minutes! It wasn’t a d*ck, which might relieved me somewhat. It was his teeth!
After some hard work, Mr. Pick-His-Teeth held up a forefinger, with disgusting bits of stuff on it. Without a pause, he placed his hand into the fore-pocket of his pants!
That, unfortunately is not the end of this beautiful anecdote. A couple of stops later, he decided that his nose needed picking, and to my utter disgust, he stuck his forefinger up his nostril and began digging away! It was the same forefinger! And after that, the same finger went back to picking his teeth! Ewww!
The worst part is, he used that hand to reach for the standing passengers’ handlebars! It made me pray that SMRT used industrial bleach to clean the train every night. Mind you, this was not an isolated incident. Minutes later, another passenger was busy digging into his nose, he almost missed his stop.
I’m really not sure when such beautiful and attractive acts of personal hygiene became the stuff of MRT trains or any part of the public act. Seriously, if you’ve got to pick your teeth, go to a restroom! If you feel the incessant need to prod into various orifices on your body, again do it in privacy! Not on public transport!
I know the train doesn’t ban it, like eating and drinking and smoking, but just because there’s no sticker on the wall with a circle and a line through it doesn’t mean it’s allowed! I’m really not too sure about the whole claim of Singapore having a gracious society. Maybe it has great public transport, but that’s only if you don’t go looking under the seat to see if anyone left their trademark behind.
My conclusion is this: Dear Singaporeans, if you feel the need to do anything to any part of your body which you think will turn someone off, please get some cover and privacy. You may feel comfortable doing stuff like in public, but we are a very unwilling audience.