Bad behavior in public – do you say anything?

Sunday afternoon I got my weekly chance to have some “me” time. I look forward to a few hours of quiet reading at the end of every week when my sweetie takes the baby, and I get to have a cup of coffee at Barnes & Noble.

This past Sunday I was sitting in a grouping of those big comfy chairs they have. I had my coffee on the table, and few good books in my lap. I was a happy mommy. That is until the woman pictured below took a seat next to me. She proceeded to whip out a nail file – and the sound of scratching began.

I thought maybe she’d just broken a nail, and needed to fix it. That wouldn’t have bothered me at all. What bothered me was that she was filing ALL her nails. And with each scrape back and forth on the nail file – little pieces of nail were flying all over the chair, and onto table we were sharing. And -in my coffee. Yuck.

I tried to give her a look, to alert her to what was happening but she was fully absorbed in her manicure. I tried to just ignore her, but I couldn’t block out the constant scraping sound, back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth! Scraping, scraping! Never mind my coffee was ruined, as it now had nail shaving in it. After 20 minutes I reached my breaking point – so I whipped out my iphone and took pictures!!

I was hoping the shutter sound of the camera might cause the woman to look up, and see what she was doing. But she didn’t. I thought about just moving away from her, but all the other chairs were taken in the store. So if I moved, I would have had to carry my coffee and an arm full of books- around the store waiting for someone to get up. I only had a couple hours of time to call my own, so I stayed. After 20 minutes, I finally I screwed up my courage – and spoke up. I basically said, in as nice away as I could…

“Is there any chance you could do that in the bathroom?”

She looked at me like she couldn’t comprehend what I was talking about, so I went on…

“It’s just that all your nail filings are getting on that chair that other people have to sit on, and they are also flying right into my coffee, and all over the table.”

She shot me an angry look. And then put her file away and picked up her book.


What do you do when someone is talking through the movie at the movie theater, or budges in line at the grocery store? Do you say anything? Do you just put up with it, and try to be zen? Which makes you feel better? Just taking an informal poll since this incident made me think about it. Am I the only one that thinks personal hygiene is supposed to happen in private?

One Comment

  1. I think you handled it just right. The fact that she didn’t have the good manners to apologize and offer to buy you a new coffee has nothing to do with you.

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