Commuter chronicles: public grooming (eww)

By Claudia DeCarlo
Which one of these does not belong on a MARC train?

  • Responding to an email
  • Listening to music
  • Reading a magazine or book
  • Looking up an old flame on social media
  • Sleeping
  • Drinking coffee
  • Flossing

If you guessed the last one, then you’re correct. All activities listed above are appropriate, if not expected, behaviors when one takes the MARC train from Baltimore to DC. Flossing is not one of them.
Recently, I saw someone flossing on the train. At first, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Certainly, I have found myself rushing out the door in the morning wishing I had more time to complete my personal grooming routine with greater precision. But never, ever, have I been inclined to complete my grooming by flossing on a public commuter train.
I decided to observe more intently. Over the next few days and weeks, I saw– and heard and smelled– various personal grooming tasks undertaken on the train. Nails were clipped, scented lotions were slathered not just on hands, but on arms and legs, makeup was applied. We’re not just talking a bit of lipstick, either. We’re talking full-on transformation makeovers including lash curling and eyebrow painting that would make YouTube beauty experts proud.
Believe me, I am all for multi-tasking. But despite the fact on some days we spend as much time on the train as we do at home, the train is still not home. There are at least 30 strangers in your immediate vicinity on the train that are not in your immediate vicinity in your bathroom. And this, my friends, is for a reason.
So, to all the fastidious flossers, conscientious clippers, lotion lovers, and award-winning makeup artists out there, I say please leave the personal grooming in the bathroom and off the train. Your fellow commuters thank you.