Great Expectorations

A group of people waiting at a bus terminal.

One man raises his index finger, pushes it alongside his left nostril, twists his head to one side and blows a big wad of snot out of his right nostril onto the sidewalk just a few feet from where a woman is standing with her toddler.

The snot lays there green and glistening.

The toddler stares at it; stares at the man; then looks up at his mother. The mother pulls the toddler away – far away from the man. The toddler looks tired and confused.

The man, oblivious, then repeats his finger to the nostril action with his other hand on his other nostril, blowing a smaller, albeit no less green, wad of snot to his other side. The man then snorts deeply and spits whatever is left in mucal passages onto a bus tire in front of him.

All the people at the bus stop shuffle away, giving the man wide berth.

I feel a little gaggy.

There have been times in my life, especially while running on a cold morning, when I felt the need to spit in public. On the rare occasion when I couldn’t resist this need, I found some weedy, untraveled area in which to do it. Generally, I try to express my fluids into appropriate receptacles.

Oh, there was the time when my daughter was about 5 and we were walking by a sidewalk café filled with Saturday morning patrons enjoying brunch in the sunshine. The sight and smell of all those Egg Bennies must have been too much for the kid because she suddenly stopped and said, “I feel sick” and in the same breath puked up all her breakfast on the sidewalk, inches from the diners. I just picked her up and fled to the nearest public facility. That was seriously gross, but I don’t know what else I could have done.

Anyway, a lot of people young and old, male and female seem to be spitting constantly. I’ve seen teenagers standing around in a group punctuating each other’s sentences every few seconds with streams of saliva. Every few minutes they have to move over to avoid the spit puddles. Where are they getting all this spit?

Sidewalks everywhere are dotted with phlegm. And gum. People also spit their gum on the sidewalk a lot. Baseball players also still hoark that brown juice all over the field.

I find it all a little unseemly and inconsiderate.

A lot of places made spitting illegal back in the early 20th century to try and curb the spread of tuberculosis. I guess you can catch TB from other people’s infected spit. The laws are still on the books in many countries. spit3

There are also  some pretty stiff fines for public spitters in some parts of the US. As I could find out, Calgary is the only place in Canada that has anti-spitting laws. And those where just enacted recently.

I don’t think we need any more laws. Sometimes laws like this are just handy excuses to hassle the homeless or disenfranchised.  But in general, people who make a habit of spewing around their bodily fluids should somehow be taught some manners.

Like maybe it could be arranged that whatever people spit, blow or otherwise expel from their person could bounce back off the sidewalk and hit them smack face or something. That would be cool.spit

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32 responses to “Great Expectorations

  1. Eww! That guy at the bus stop is such a fucking slob! So disgusting! He reminds me of this other idiot I saw on the bus once who had his index finger all the way up his nose for the entire trip! I just looked at him like “WTF?!” He was a grown man with no apparent disabilities, just was apparently brought up in a barn.

    I think bus stops should all carry kleenex.

  2. Perhaps bring back the spittoon? But with the added feature of a mechanical arm reaching out and grabbing the spitter and flinging him straight up in the air. Yep, that would be entertaining, after the gross-out.

  3. Fresh gum on the street bothers me more than spit.
    Freshly chewed gum is like spit that sticks to your shoes. Then you spread it around for others to enjoy too…

  4. Great title. Gross subject, but great title. I love a good title.

    I hate to see people spit in public. It seems to be a guy thing more often, maybe because women are more likely to be carrying kleenex?

  5. Hannah – It’s odd how sometimes people, if they’re not actually with someone, behave as if they were all alone – on a bus, in a car, on the street.

    Violetsky – Wouldn’t that also fling the spit all over the place? Maybe a spitoon that fits right over the mouth and nose (like a horse’s feed bag)?

    Dave & Olivia – Exactly

    Em – I’m pretty much anti-gum in all its forms, so stepping in it is high on my list of revolting things.

    Alison – I work really hard at my titles you know. Often (maybe even too often) I feel my title is the best part of the post though I suspect most people don’t even notice the title. Thanks for noticing. And ya, it’s largely a guy thing, but I’ve been seeing more and more young ladies hoarking their way around town lately.

  6. I’m going to need a personal email forewarning me if you’re feeling a gross post coming on. I guess the title should have been enough. I’m might have to write a blog post about gross blog posts.

  7. Wow… that’s gross. I don’t know what I would have done had I been fortunate enough to have witnessed that in person. There’s really nothing to say. I’m in shock that someone would do that in public.

  8. That’s seriously nasty – it’s bad enough when I’m watching a hockey game and they pull the ol’nose cleaner routine, added of course to the constant spitting (which i get while playing…) but to do that at a bus stop!?! Nasty.

    Kids spitting? smokers…

  9. honestly? gross. i think some cultures think nothing of it though, right? in fact, they deem it as being quite healthy to get rid of “it”.

  10. IIRC they banned public spitting in Kanata in ’99, at the same time they banned cow-catapulting, but that by-law disappeared with amalgamation.

    I didn’t notice the headline until Allison mentioned it. Good one!

    – RG>

  11. Oh my, that’s truly nasty! I remember being a kid at an A&W drive in (am I the only one who pines for the old-style drive-ins? But I digress…) and my mom getting me about half way to the washroom when I gacked all over the parking lot. Funny what you remember from childhood!

    I think a spitting law would be pretty much roundly ignored by the jerks who are disgusting enough to spit in pubic in the first place. You just can’t legislate common sense or decency.

  12. Meanie has a point. It is very much a cultural thing. So what isn’t.

    Yet, it isn’t confined to only those who hail from other cultures. I grew up in small town Ontario and spitting was public is still very much the norm. I know that when I go back to my home ‘hood in the Parry Sound area this summer, my 5 year old will ask me why everyone likes to spit so much after we have ingrained in her the anti-spitting culture.

    But I gotta tell ya that I find it gross and very bad manners. And I’m no prude and have a lot of tolerance for the gross and ill-mannered.

    As for the guy at the bus stop… I woulda thumped him one upside the head.

  13. You’d love my son. He never spits or expels his mucus-y productions. He just snorts it all back into his head really REALLY loudly, making a noise like a vacuum cleaner meeting a hedgehog. It’s really horrible but as yet I have been unable to train him in the ways of the tissue. Actually, maybe you wouldn’t like him after all. But at least he doesn’t aim his snot at the public!

  14. Lola – I might be best if you just always assumed the worst when you visit here and then can be pleasantly surprised if it fails to meet expectations. I think that’s better than relying on my judgment as to when to issue warnings.

    Chris – You’ve led a very sheltered life; especially for a boy from the big city. I’ve seen people doing stuff like this (and worse) everywhere.

    Ian – I think there is a relationship between spitting and smoking. I’d be spitting all the time too if I had that nasty taste in my mouth.

    Meanie – Good point about the cultural thing. Although in many cultures spitting in public is a very serious offense, so you’d think people would be careful about stuff like that. Are you thinking of a culture in particular that revels in public expectorating? I’d really like to know so I can cross it off my list of places to visit. Thanks

    Grouchy – You can ban all sorts of things, but who’s going to enforce it and how?

    DaniGirl – Ya, all the laws that try to protect us from our own stupidity or unmannerliness are pretty much unenforceable and ignored. So, really, what’s the point of making a law? We need something really effective like angry mobs with pitchforks. No one has ever been able to ignore them.

    Trashee – Am I the only one who notices people all over Ottawa spitting? I don’t think you have to go to the boonies to see this. I see it all the time. And I’m not touching that disgusting pig – even to thump him.

    Loth – No, I appreciate his recycling mentality, I really do. How about gas? Does he expel that from either orifice or is he able to recycle that as well? Or pee – does he pee outdoors other than whilst camping? Lots of males seem to enjoy that.

  15. Spitting is rude, no matter what.

    But at least healthy transparent spit, I can almost tolerate.

    It’s when it’s got COLOR to it…..GROSSSSS!!!!!

  16. You haven’t LIVED in Ottawa until you’ve been walking through the Byward Market on your way to work at 7am, and seen a pigeon pecking away at some puke left over from the night before.
    Pigeons are as disgusting as the horkers and pukers.

  17. Yuk, yes spitting is simply a bad habit, even if you have a cold and you are coughing up gunk you can cough it into a tissue. Snot blowing, one of the most gross things a person can do in public, might as well take a dump on the street. I used to know a guy who would do that in bars, nasty! There is much to be said for good manners and caring about those around us.

  18. @Newsguy Bob

    The stupidest bird I ever saw was a Cassowary (huge emu-like bird) in a zoo in Australia.

    It took a dump, and immediately started eating it.

    Brings a whole new meaning, to the term “bird brain”.

  19. I think I would have loudly said, “I bet that guy can’t keep a girlfriend.” I’ve never understood spitting. I only spit when it’s dental related (brushing, gargling, cleaning, whitening). Why can’t people just use an effing tissue? Why do they want mucus in their mouth? Do they feel a need to taste it? Gag.

  20. I learned to do the “block the nostril and blow” thing while trekking in Nepal. Finding toilet paper was iffy (you pretty much had to bring your own whil trekking), so kleenex was out of the question.

    It was an education.

    Ewww indeed.

  21. If that gun would have done that in front of me I would have hurled and I would have made sure I hurled on him. Then I would have apologized to everyone else and gone home.

  22. Yuck!
    I find other people spitting in public to be fairly disgusting, especially when they’ve just done a noisy, and noisome, job of clearing their respiratory passages first.

    On recent visits to Beijing, the snoghering and hawking really got to me; it seemed to be fine around the time of The Games but quickly degenerated.
    One could hear the most revolting noises in a shopping mall and turn round in time to see a very well dressed, middle-aged woman depositing her results into the nearest bin.
    The less polite ones just spit anywhere, including inside national monuments.

    They, in turn, find the Western habit of blowing our noses into tissues, and then stuffing said tissue into a bag or pocket, just as revolting.

    On the subject of the legality of spitting in public, I was always told that the only place one could do this in Edinburgh was at The Heart of Midlothian, outside St Giles.

  23. Apologies for the YouTube vid – I only meant to post a link, not the whole flipping thing!

  24. I am gagging just reading this. It is something I have hated all my life. So, Karma being what it is, I now live with a man who sniffs, blows, snorts, hacks, coughs twenty-four/seven. Sometimes he opens the car door and hacks it out. Okay, the guy may even be in end stage COPD, but use a tissue man. He has a box of kleenex within arms reach everywhere, because I make sure of it. He uses it at home, so why can’t he in the car? I sit here each evening and wonder, “just what constitutes justifiable homicide?” And, what would the headline be? “Husband shot for excess snot.”

  25. Friar – I guess it depends on the colour. A nice arterial red at least means the spitter won’t be forcing his nasty habit on us too much longer.

    Bob – Pigeons feasting on puke or seagulls and crows feasting on groundhog entrails or on each other – just one of the joys of being out and about bright and early.

    Grouchy – Fast for at least 2 hours before reading this blog from now on.

    Tobeme – It does seem to be a matter of simple courtesy and civilized behaviour, but I guess that’s beyond some people. There are so many little things people do in public that marks them as uncouth.

    Friar – My research indicates that the Cassowary’s dung contains a lot of undigested fruit and seeds of fruit and nuts which are very nutritious not only to the Cassowary, but also to various rodents. Of course if you get right down to it, humans who use the toilet and don’t wash their hands afterwards, also end up eating their own dung. And not only is human dung not nutritious, but can be quite fatal. Who’s the real bird brain?

    Jobthingy – Me too…and all things related to spit.

    Charlene – Really? You Americans are so bold and confrontational. Canadians are far too polite. We just make ugly face, shake our heads and move away. (and then blog about it)

    Geewits – I really don’t understand where all this mucus comes from. If you’re that mucusy, I would think you’re pretty sick and should be home and out in public hoarking your diseased fluids all over the place.

    Jazz – O.M.G.!! We have a winner, folks. So are you saving a bundle on tissues these days now that you know how to blow the Nepalese way?

    Cedar – Hmm – Snot blowing and spitting gobs of emerald green is one thing; hurling at the bus stop takes this story into a whole other realm. One I do not wish to visit. On the other hand, it might have been worth it.

    Teuchter – Interesting. I’d read that the Bejing government was cracking down on all those “normal” habits during the Olympics so that they wouldn’t gross out the world. And when you think about it, stuffing a used tissue in your bag or pocket IS just as gross. I wouldn’t do that either. Thanks for the video!

    Savanvleck – Did he not do this before you shacked up with him? In which case you can’t kill him, because you went into this snot-fest with your eyes and gag reflexes wide open. If he just started doing this lately, statutes say that you may shoot him if it’s humanely done.

  26. i hope i never have the privilege of witnessing someone blowing their nose freely in public with nothing to catch it like a tissue or hankie.

  27. I have been spit on a couple times in my life, once by a stranger because I was gay….that was pretty offensive in itself….but I think the time I will never forget is being spit on by one of my partners. I was laying on the bed reading a magazine and she was standing next to looking for a shirt in the closet. We were having words. I remember being very calm in the moment, mostly because what I thought she was saying was pretty absurd and she was not pleased that I was not in agreement with her point of view on how things between us were transpiring…she said something and I remember looking at her and smirking and saying “You are kidding right?” And she turned, cursed at me and spit on me and left the room. I can remember the exact feeling I had at that moment until this day. I think it was the most distusting, vile thing anyone has every done to me. I do not remember an apology. We broke up shortly there after.