I recently read that the New York Subway Authorities are going to make a new rule or law or just common courtesy advisement that it will no longer be okay, tolerated or acceptable, (depending on which type of heading they attach to the request,) to cut, clip, or clean your fingernails while riding on the subway. Yes my first response was yuck too. Then when you stop and think about how many people must ride the subways on any one day you really start to get the creeps. I mean just stop and think about 50,000+ people in one tube cutting their fingernails and dropping them on the floor. Or scraping at the dirt and muck found under the nails and flinging it to the floor. Soon there must be millions of little clippings and tiny balls of waxy dirt covering the floor of the trains. Like at some bars that let the customers eat peanuts and then throw the shells on the floor, which upon first thought might be okay and kind of folksy, but after a football party or bachelor party things might be a bit, well soggy or worse. Wait, let’s move out of the bar and back to the subway…where it’s safer?
I tend to think of the poor guy that gets to sweep up all these clippings. Now if there were a market for discarded fingernail clippings he would be in tall clover. But I hardly see any need for fingernail clippings. Not in soup, not in art, not in fertilizer. They are just castaways of ourselves. Taking this steps further—well you didn’t think I would stop at the fingernails did you? What about the millions of dead skin cells we cast off each day. Or little things like eyelashes. Along those lines what about hair. I know I shed hair everyday just inspect my vacuum cleaner roller brush thing! And these are just a few of the things from the outsides of these magnificent bodies we live in. I don’t want to even think about what people leave behind on a subway from the inside of their domains. Again, yuck. That sweeper guy probably can tell stories that would curl your hair. Of course then you would want to leave that hair on the subway…
So upon reflection of my own habits I have discovered that I am guilty of clipping without so much as a thread of a thought about where I clip and where I leave little portions of my DNA. (Yes I googled to see if DNA can be extracted from fingernail clippings, in short, yes it can. The long answer is in about 48 trillion responses to the question. How much information in enough information?)
For a while now, well since I was privy to the problem in the New York Subways, I have had occasion to see people clip and drop fingernails. In grocery stores, in doctors’ offices, on the street, in their cars at stop lights, and in restaurants. This last one was done after eating and the clippings were left on the clippers’ plate, Yuck, maybe even double yuck! So, in taking note of my own trail of clippings I hang my head in disgust that I am guilty of clipping in places I shouldn’t. Not to go into much detail let me just say that I now hold my hand over a trash receptacle and clip away with abandon.
I have never had my nails done in a salon. In my life I have to put my hands in nail bins, rip open boxes and dig in dirt, none of which I can see would be hospitable to freshly do dah-ed fingernails. But I asked my friend, who gets her nails done nearly weekly, and on her they look great, what happens to the clippings in the salon. After a few moments of reflection said she never thought about it, but if she remembered right the technician clipped the nails and they fell to the floor. Where I tend to think they were swept up like cut hair in that salon and disposed of in the trash. But, the ones that didn’t fall were on the towel that her hand was laid on and after the cleaning and clipping and filing and just before the polish that towel was whisked away and a new one was laid out. The used one was put into a hamper with several other towels. Well does that mean any clippings were washed and then rinsed away to the sewer system? If there were others that didn’t get rinsed away are they still clinging to the towels after they come out of the dryer? Oh, the questions abound.
That should be enough for you to chew on for a while. Get it, fingernails, chew on… But just in case you need just a bit more, answer me this; where do you think toenail clippings end up?
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.