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New York Minute

Fresh nail polish packs a wallop. At the end of the line, there’s always breakfast-eating and make-up-application on the train. And in the nice weather, there’s polish for fingers and toes.

It’s a collision of personal moments and public space that bothers some. The stinging scent of alcohol acetone in the nail polish isn’t the most pleasant eye-opener, but honestly, it’s better than a lot of subway cars. And on some mornings, every second counts.

I’ll probably take a harder line when a train lurches and a bottle spills on my leg. Until, then, I’d rather see paint than pancakes.


1 Ben   ~  Sep 9, 2011 9:55 am

The women who can put make-up on in the subway have always amazed me. Using one hand to hold the mirror and the wrist as a set point for the other hand which applies the makeup, smooth, even strokes, the suwbay cars bouncing along. Awesome. I don't actually like makeup on women's face, but I love watching it go on.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 9, 2011 10:03 am

2) That's funny, I always find it a pain in the ass if they are sitting next to me, cause they are brushing shit on your pants. Get it done at home, sister.


3 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 9, 2011 11:03 am

Tough choice. I can't stand the smell of nail polish. I have to leave the room, but I definitely prefer that dizzying scent to the odor of some dude's breakfast.
Don't eat on the fucking subway unless you're about to lapse into a diabetic coma, and don't apply nail polish on the train. That shit is toxic.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 9, 2011 11:33 am

3) Agreed. And you can leave that nail file in your purse too, honey. And bro, save that nail clipper for someplace else, son.

5 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 9, 2011 11:44 am

All grooming should be done at home.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 9, 2011 11:53 am

Yeah, and in the summer, keep the feets IN the sandals.

7 Dina   ~  Sep 9, 2011 11:58 am

[3,5] Really? I can't munch on a granola bar or put on some lip gloss? I mean, as long as it's not impeding your personal space (as in spilling something on you or being stinky) how is it a problem?

8 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 9, 2011 12:18 pm

[7] The trains and buses are used by MILLIONS of people every. We see enough rats in the stations, and grime in the subway cars and buses. The smells of machinery, people, and more are everpresent. I know that there are exceptions to every hard set rule of law or etiquette, but it is polite, socially expedient, and community supporting if people would not eat or do personal grooming on mass transit conveyances.

With all do respect, it is a problem.

9 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 9, 2011 12:23 pm

Ahh,,, I left out the word "day" in the first sentence. And it is "all due respect".

Sorry for those brain lapses.

10 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 9, 2011 1:07 pm

lip gloss and lipstick don't count. It's the powdery stuff that can be a problem. And for me, non-odorous foods are fine.

11 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 9, 2011 1:15 pm

[7] I agree, no problem with a candy bar or lip balm. But I don't consider a quick hit of lip stick to be grooming.

12 RIYank   ~  Sep 9, 2011 1:51 pm

Jon, the smell (of nail polish) isn't alcohol. It's acetone. Very distinctive!

13 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 9, 2011 1:58 pm

[12] Isn't that just an uproven theory at this point? I prefer to teach both acetone and alcohol as sources of the odor and let the American people decide for themselves.

14 RIYank   ~  Sep 9, 2011 2:01 pm

[13] Fair enough, governor.

15 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 9, 2011 2:06 pm

14) Neither of 'em are too inviting.

16 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 9, 2011 2:47 pm

Dina, be careful. All those fumes and odors you're smelling can go right into your system if you're eating on the train. Nevermind the airborne hazards you're already exposing yourself to, what about what the food actually absorbs, and then you put it into your mouth? Same with makeup; you want all that crap all over your body after you see what it's been exposed to before you put it on?

Outside of that, the reasons I prefer driving far more than taking the train nowadays is because I see firsthand that far more often than not, most people I rode with who eat on the train are careless almost to the point of vindictiveness with their refuse; dropping it on the floor of the train or scooping it under the seat where they think no one will see it. I would see other riders staring hard at someone who eats on the train because they suppose that half of what they are eating will end up on the floor. Don't expect the MTA to always come clean up after that, because during rush hour they immediately turn the trains around and guess what? You'll be sitting in or among garbage, wondering what's wrong with the "lazy MTA workers"...

17 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 9, 2011 2:50 pm

[16] "...one of the reasons... is..." *facepalm*

18 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 9, 2011 2:55 pm

[12] Well now, RI, my people went and did their 'searches on this subyect, and it seems acetone is the solvent in nail polish remover, while toluene is the solvent in most nail polish. See this is non-exact scientifics and we really can't make the big decisions without further proof and 'vestigating.

19 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 9, 2011 3:03 pm

[18] Which one burns quicker? I'd, ummm, like to know...

20 RIYank   ~  Sep 9, 2011 3:14 pm

[18] Yikes, I didn't know that.
Toluene is very toxic.

21 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 9, 2011 3:20 pm

[20] According to Wikipedia, anyway.

22 Dina   ~  Sep 9, 2011 5:47 pm

[10,11] OK, good. I was afraid I was an accidental jackass there for a minute.

[8] I see the point about shared spaces and will definitely admit that many people are not as considerate of others as they should be, but there is quite a bit of irony in saying "This is not your personal space, so you must use it how I see fit." I mean, it's not your personal space either, and you don't get to dictate how others use it (assuming they are not leaving trash, etc).

[16] I'm not too afraid of germs. They give my immune system something to do. Otherwise it would get bored and give me lupus or something.

23 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 9, 2011 10:22 pm

[22] The choice is yours. You can eat and put things on your face in a public space shared by millions. It is only my opinion that these behaviors are selfish, and not community minded. It drives the cost of running the transit system higher, and cleaning is one of things that gets skimped when budgets are squeezed.

If you don't care, then eat and primp away. It is not my place to prevent you from doing it. Just know that there is a social cost for the behavior.

24 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 9, 2011 11:11 pm

Interesting discussion. In Japan, at least in Tokyo, eating on the train is considered impolite, and thus rarely happens. I've been here so long that it disgusts me. The rule is if the seats face the opposite sides (light rail and subway), no eating. If the seats face front and back (long range rail, bullet trains, etc.) anything goes, and that means beers cracking open at 8 AM (no kidding).

The make up I hate, and it goes on...especially by young, how shall I say, girls of questionable upbringing. I am always afraid something will get spilled on my clothes.

BTW, talking on a mobile is strictly verbotten, but not by any law, just by public-social pressure.

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