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Nasal Etiquette: The Top Five Offenders

English: Fred Ott in mid-sneeze. Still from 18...

I beg your pardon? I didn’t quite hear you the first 10 decibels.

“Coughs and sneezes spread diseases”. They also bring you out in bruises. Why? because if not managed correctly, people like myself will shove a cattle prod up your rear end, causing you to “accidentally” fall down some stairs, that’s why.

We’re into that niche 364 day period fondly known as “cold ‘n’ flu season” and this brings out the very worst in people in terms of the very picky, I mean tricky, subject of nasal etiquette. I have identified the worst of the offenders in terms of nasal airs and graces so that we, as a collective, can target them mercilessly and help them torture them barbarically until they relent.

In case you’re wondering how qualified I am for doling out brutal hooter etiquette based judgement, I once went to tea with the Queen in her back garden during hayfever season and lived to sneeze another day. I also own a nose. Sound credentials, I think you’ll agree.

My number one reason for wishing that my Oyster card came with a complimentary cattle prod, is The Sniffer. This is a person so determined to hang on to their nasal mucus, that they turn every inhalation into an audibly wet sniff. These people are the sole reason that headphones were invented, as Mr Sony found himself stuck on a very long train ride next to someone with a particularly heavy head cold and an aversion to tissues. Seeing as the cattle prod was already invented, he invented the Walkman to drown out the sniffling.

The Sniffer may not realise how utterly maddening and vile their moist Darth Vader impression is, and, as I have discovered, they do not take ‘subtle’ hints. I recently found myself next to one such soggy nosed buffoon on my morning commute. Faced with two choices; offer a prized tissue (they have balsam on them, I’m not made of money!) or waste my cattle prod battery, I proffered for the tissue. She refused. That’s right, this human kitchen tap actually refused a pristine, balm-enriched tissue in favour of a mucusy beatbox performance. I should have gone with the cattle prod.

The Sniffer is usually only a periodic offender, unlike The Snorter. I know of this type only too well as I grew up in a house with one. To my shame, my father is a snorter. I’m still waiting on the test results to come back, confirming whether or not I’ve inherited the full gene or if I’m merely a carrier. Either way, it’s a deep dark shame that I am only now able to admit to.

The Snorter will punctuate your day with a hefty draw of air through their inner facial membranes, sounding much like a chainsaw going through a bowl of lumpy custard. Every half hour. This person has decided that “sinus problems” are a genuine excuse for providing a lovely family meal or romantic stroll in the park with the soundtrack of a ravenous pig rooting through entrails.

The Snorter seems to think that their condition is a magical one and that no nose blowing or doctor’s consultation can provide a cure. Amazing. They do have some uses though – you can dispense with your roosters and alarm clocks with one of these ripping through your slumber at 06:00am prompt, and you’ll be sure to drop at least half a stone if you dine with a Snorter. Nothing puts you off a bowl of pea and ham soup quite like a sound resembling someone inhaling a bowl of pea and ham soup.

The third of the nasal offenders who leave me wishing that cattle prods came in ‘handbag size’, are another lot who don’t see the point in a handypack of tissues; The Handwiper. This person is fully aware that their nose is producing a slew of unwanted moisture, but unlike the rest of the civilised world, they seem to believe that the back of their hand has absorbent and anti-bacterial qualities.

You may think that yes, this is quite repulsive to watch but not reeeeeally so bad a crime, but hold on dear reader, look again and you’ll see that this vile little snot rag has realised they have used up every ‘absorbent’ inch of the backs of their hands and have resorted to smearing their fingers and palms with nasal mucus instead. After watching this, think back to how many hands you’ve shaken this week, how many handrails and door handles you’ve touched. Now think how much you enjoyed licking your fingers after that really delicious sandwich at lunch. You’re welcome.

Next up in the rogues gallery of nasal etiquette miscreants is The Shouter. I’m not talking about the lady who enjoys her bedtime companion a little too vocally, I’m talking about the person who seems utterly incapable of sneezing without knocking every person within a 2 mile radius off their feet with the sonic boom.

Apparently, while the majority of us are able to satisfy our nasal irritations with a mere eek of a squeak, The Shouter feels the need to announce to all and sundry that their nose is having a Tickle Me Elmo moment, by actually shouting the word “ACHOO”. I have several colleagues who perform this ear-splitting routine daily and I swear they shout their sneezes so hard, the word can be seen in a Batman comic style ‘KAPOW’ bubble. Humans seem to manage to control all other bodily noise eruptions (other than in comedy stuck-in-lift moments) so why not this one? A cattle prod up the bum would certainly give them something to shout about!

Everyone picks their nose and if you don’t, you’re missing out on one of your body’s greatest gifts, however, there is a time and place for such zealous facial mining and while in public is most definitely not it. The Green-Gold Digger seems to think that they are shrouded by a cloak of invisibility, activated as soon as they insert an inquisitive digit into their nugget encrusted nasal cavity, regardless of where they are.

Whenever I see a Green-Gold Digger knuckle-deep, I feel the urge to shout “pick me a winner!”, but that would mean talking to them. Instead, I like to maintain a steely gaze of accusation and loathing, in a bid to make them think twice before wiping it on the seat, flicking it into the unknown (aka onto a passing stranger’s leg) or worse still, popping it into their mouth as a tasty mid-morning chew. I mean really, have these people never heard of gum?!

If you can think of worse nasal etiquette criminals, then by all means, please do name and shame, but for now, I’m going to suggest that we take our cattle prods to the streets and rid the world of these honking, tooting, sniffling, rooting vile affronts to human nature. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the patent office with my designs for the ‘cattle prod-nasal hair trimmer’.

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