I had to take a bus this week. It was only a short trip, so I felt that with enough extra strong mints I could bear the travel sickness.
What I wasn’t prepared for however, and something that no amount of minty treats could distract me from, was the man sat next to me who sniffed 104 times.
Yes I counted.
I sensed straight away that he was going to be trouble, and so used the counting as a form of self-control to prevent me from punching him in the face and giving him something to actually sniff about.
Imagine for a moment if you will how annoying it is when a small child sniffs again and again. Let’s say 10 times. Then multiply this annoyance up to adult size, because really a middle-aged man in a suit should know better. Now times it by ten and add a splash of motion sickness.
There we go.
The journey took 21 minutes, so I calculated that to be an average of one sniff every 12 seconds. That is too much sniffing. He didn’t even have anything to sniff – there was no moisture there – it was just a dry snort. He mixed it up a bit too. Sometimes he would go for what felt like a whole minute with nothing and then all of a sudden it was like his nose would realise it had been quiet for too long, panic, and sniff three or four times in a row just to make sure.
Aside from the sniffing he was quiet, apart from an odd moment between the 74th and 75th sniff where he just said ‘fuck’ quietly under his breath. I wondered if perhaps the sniffing was beginning to annoy even him.
I thought about offering a tissue, but how would that conversation even go?
‘Excuse me, but I thought you might like a tissue.’
‘Because you have sniffed 104 times.’
Somehow he doesn’t come off as the odd one in that scenario. After a while I did begin to worry about him a little bit. Did he even know he was doing it? What was wrong with him that was making him sniff so often? Was it some sort of public transport allergy or did he do it all the time? At the rate he was going, that would be over 7,000 sniffs in a 24 hour period and that can’t be good for anyone’s nose.
I started to imagine what it would be like to work with him or, worse still, be married to him. I imagine it’s the kind of thing that would end in tragedy. ‘Yes your honour, I did stab him in the face 27 times with a fork, but he had sniffed 823 times already that day, and we were only at breakfast.’
If I were the judge, I would let her off. It would practically be a public service.
To the man on the bus, if you are reading this, please get a tissue. Or pass me a fork…