Travel

The Grump

This is a crotchety, old man episode. It may be societal stress.  It may be overwork. It may too much time spent on planes or airports.  But here are three things that have gotten my goat in the last few weeks. Three things that got me grumpy.

W) The cutting of fingernails should be confined, in my opinion, to the salon, the bathroom or outside under a tree somewhere.  The sound of trimming nails anywhere else is an intrusion. You know that sound. The sound of surgical steel nipping through keratin.  It’s not even the sound, that high pitched “tick!”, but rather the timing. The first time you hear it that high pitched “tick!”, it could be anything, but wait the 4 to 6 seconds and it can only be one thing. Blade biting through cuticle.  And if you hear that sound in a coffee shop or airport waiting area, you owe it to humanity to speak up. If you see something, say something. 

This is doubly true if the person on the plane seated next to you pulls out his finger shears after the seatbelt sign is switched off and proceeds to clip himself then and there. Letting his tailings fall where they may on to the floor and between the seats.  Yes, it’s disgusting!  

And of course I didn’t say anything.  Just looked upon him with scorn as I slipped my shoes back on, lest a filing wedge its way through my socks.

T) Airport construction in SE Asia is booming. Struggling to keep up with a burgeoning middle class who wants to get around more easily and comfortably. Many airports, even in podunk places are gleaming jewels in the squalor.  

Airports are often designed by western design firms with lots of airport design experience. They are built and fitted out, though by greedy or short sighted contractors who don’t seem to have travelled much. Items get cut or reduced. 

Escalators only go up, so that arthritic old ladies struggle to walk down the stairs with their suitcases. Or they cut back on cooling, but have plenty of windows to let in tropical sunshine and heat.

Or they install entirely electric motion sensing faucets and toilets in a region where power cuts are common. This recently happened on a recent trip and presented a bit of a challenge for custodial staff who had to man each bathroom and dump water down the commode after each user.  Fortunately, labour is cheap and there are plenty of people to go around. 

All the commode users though walked out of the stalls and waved their hands under the motion sensors and received nothing but air. I’m sure there must be some cases of hepatitis that spread that day.  

Or how about this money saving design flaw. A total of sixteen sinks in the men’s room and one hand dryer.  And not even a good hand dryer. And emphysematous old man hand dryer. 

The weak hand dryers are nothing new, but this was a new interaction. In Saigon, I was letting my hands dry in the light breeze, when a man walked up next to me and nudged his hands over mine into the stream. “Oh no! You may have won the war, but I will not cede my moment of baby’s breath under your dirty drippings.” I quietly slid my hands back over his. He met my stare with a slight smile, wiped his hand on his trousers and walked away. Once he was out of sight, I reached down and did the same. 

F) And finally, what in the everloving hell is wrong with people nowadays, where they think that just because a novelty like Facetime has been invented, they think they can just gab and gab out loud? 

Nearly nothing drives me crazier than to hear, not only your side of the conversation, but also your wife/child/coworker/mom’s. Because you hold the phone 2 feet from your face and they look really small, you feel a need to shout to cover the miles.  And because you’re too cheap to buy some headphones, you crank up the volume so you can hear, thinking nothing of the space and people around you tortured by your 3 year old babbling or last months sales figures droning out of the screen.  

Phone speakers and the scratchy sound the emit  in general drive me up the wall, but to hear it everywhere on an increasing level, sends me right over the edge. Back in the days of yore, establishments had phone booths where people had private conversations out of earshot of the rest of us. It is high time we brought back these technological marvels.

Or maybe I need to bring my own to seclude me from flying fingernails. Soundproofed and complete with my own towel and sink to wash and dry my hands effectively and in peace.

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