Saturday, 21 March 2009

Nose Plugs

You know how you never notice something until it happens to you or somebody points it out, and then you seem to see it everywhere around you? Well, maybe it was the the Metro's March manners poster, but the other day, in two completely separate incidents with two completely different people, I saw Japanese guys with plugs of tissue in their nostrils.

The first guy was in a suit and tie, looking like your average salary man. He was crossing the street and seemed completely normal. He was talking with another guy in a suit, and I guessed they were co-workers going for lunch. What made me do a double take (yeah, I actually did a double take and stared, sigh... you'd think that being the subject of a double or triple or quadruple take and lots and lots of staring, you'd think that'd make me somehow sensitive and less likely to do it myself... apparently not! sigh...) What made me do a double take, was that the guy had a wad of tissue stuck in one of his nostrils. I continued across the street and went on my way, somewhat bewildered.

The second guy was only a few hours later. He was dressed in ripped jeans and a colourful shirt, a jaunty hat perched on his head. His girlfriend was snuggled up to him as they sat across from me on the train. They had a big suitcase in front of them and I'm guessing they were about to head off on a trip as the train was going to Narita airport. This guy had tissue in both of his nostrils, and periodically he'd sniffle and fiddle with the wads in his nose.

Is this the Japanese reaction to the Metro posters? Are people across the metropolis of Tokyo suddenly being struck by the desire to be considerate to their fellow man? Are those sniffling and suffering from seasonal allergies realizing that blowing their noses in public is rude and inconsiderate and, paralyzed by the fear that given the lack of garbage cans in public spaces the inability to find somewhere to properly dispose of any tissue they might use to blow their nose would cause them to be lugging around bags and bags full of used tissues?

Or did I just happen to see, in the space of an afternoon, two different weirdos who decided it'd be fun to break the norm and shove tissue paper up their nose instead of conforming by wearing a mask and sniffling endlessly?!

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