The man on the bus who sniffed 104 times

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.

104 times.

To the man on the bus, if you are reading this, please get a tissue. Or pass me a fork…



  1. 29 August, 2013 / 4:59 pm

    I feel your pain! I spend an hour on the bus both to and from work and I share that journey with a variety of noises. There is a bloke that does really loud wet sniffs that make me want to hurl, there are the foul mouthed youths in the morning and the foul mouthed drunks on the way home. Add to this the people who spend their journeys yelling into their mobiles, and the kids who are allowed to yell and scream with their parents seemingly oblivious and usually at the other end of the bus and I really feel refreshed by the time I get off the bus!

    I am saving for a car.

  2. 29 August, 2013 / 5:08 pm

    I used to work with someone who did this! I was so glad when said person moved to another department. I would have been sacked eventually if she hadn’t for hollering ‘stop effing sniffing, get an effing tissue’ what with her and the bloke I used to work with who ‘tapped’ on the desk all day, it’s a wonder I’ve not been banged up!

  3. 29 August, 2013 / 5:45 pm

    Hahaha, love this – we need more of your ‘out and about and ranting at the world’ posts – I actually did laugh out loud reading it! :)

  4. Louise
    29 August, 2013 / 7:38 pm

    Welcome to the wonderful world of public transport! This happens to me a lot, and it’s awful I agree (although this did make me smile!) x

  5. 29 August, 2013 / 7:57 pm

    A few weeks ago, when it was so hot I was pretty sure I was going to melt, a woman sat next to me on the bus wearing thick black tights, a knitted skirt, a fleece and a plastic raincoat. As you can imagine the smell was hideous.

  6. 29 August, 2013 / 9:13 pm

    My music teacher at school sniffed a lot. My Mum went on a parents evening once and said it drove her mad. She wanted to offer her a tissue. I don’t like public transport either. I’ve been driving as long as I can remember and miss my car when it’s in the garage!

  7. 29 August, 2013 / 9:15 pm

    haha! oh my God! There is a girl who works in my local supermarket and she sniffs all year round. At first I thought she had cold, then in the summer time hay fever, now? Now she just gets on my nerves! it is a very irritating thing to do! *Sniff Sniff* Jade x

  8. 29 August, 2013 / 9:43 pm

    I wonder what he swore for, he didn’t hear your counting did he, hehehehe.

  9. 30 August, 2013 / 9:42 am

    That’s the kind of thing that once you’re aware of it, you can’t think of anything else…

  10. 30 August, 2013 / 1:20 pm

    It reads as funny and it would drive me batty too,I am very noise sensitive, I hate people chewing loudly as well,but what you just described is an anxiety disorder, worsened by public places! He swore because he was probably trying to control it and was failing. Poor guy! I would have hated that journey,,especially feeling sick and somebody next to me making continual noise!

  11. Ali Thorpe
    30 August, 2013 / 6:48 pm

    I love this post and I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone in noticing and getting severely aggravated by things like this.

  12. 30 August, 2013 / 6:52 pm

    Oh dear i hate this too. I hate it even more if I’m the one sniffing with no tissues – i would love someone to offer me one in that situation!

  13. 30 August, 2013 / 7:53 pm

    my kids had hay fever, 4 of the 5 of them, and bloody hell did I hate hayfever season, they would sniff in stereo, sniff in quartet, sniff as a trio, and occasionally one would sniff. No matter how many times in a day I yelled for “God sake blow your bloody nose” the sniffing never stopped.
    The only thing that bugs me more is the ones that sniff it down and clear the throat with a loud huey noise….time to get the wooden spoon out and beat the little darlings.

  14. 31 August, 2013 / 5:04 pm

    If I was the judge, I would definitely let you off. So I better go back to my law studies in case you need me in the future! :) x

  15. Nicky Richards
    5 September, 2013 / 7:30 pm

    This made me laugh so much! I love it when you write posts that as I read them, I hear your voice so clearly in my head as if you were actually in front of me telling the story :) x

  16. Emily Fowler
    6 September, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    Ha ha, this did make me chuckle! Reminds me of a flight back from Turkey once where I was sitting in the window seat, my boyfriend had the middle seat and there was a random guy in the aisle seat. I was trying to sleep so had my eyes shut and ALL I could hear was my boyfriend’s annoying sniff. I got fed up in the end, opened my eyes and snapped to my boyfriend ‘Do you want a f**king tissue?!’.

    He replied ‘No, why?’

    Just as the man in the aisle seat sniffed again. Oops.

  17. 17 August, 2014 / 8:49 pm

    Omg i am in hysterics. Do u live in Hertfordshire by any chance because my lord my husband sniffs for England!!!! I will be that wife with the fork!! I tell him he must drive his colleagues mad!
    best post i have read all week!!

  18. GralynScott
    3 July, 2018 / 5:50 am

    Prolly sniffing because of the yayo.. what kinda weirdo counts how many times a person sniffs then breaks down the mathematics of it .. lol

  19. Leisa
    11 December, 2019 / 10:31 am

    Ok well to start off that is rather ride for you to even post on the internet. I personally sniff constantly I fucking hate it but I can’t control it. Sniffing uncontrollable could be a cause of. A medication that is triggered it. A. Condition,. Or. Vocal teretts. Now it’s the most embarassing thing I have even ever had to face in public. I have ADHD and. Have only been on my meds for a year. And it has triggered. Vocal teretts and also. Have a sinus infection that never goes away and can only breath through one side of the nose one side has over grown cartridge. And I had a operation when I was 14 and it’s grown back please don’t judge someone for a medical condition or disability. I also get frustrated when it happens I say fuck sake and. I get irritated. Bit unfortunate it can’t be controlled. I hate when people look at me on the his etc my Social anxiety goes through the roof. I can’t cope I cry often because I hate being different

    • Jo Middleton
      12 December, 2019 / 10:30 am

      Hi Leisa, I can only apologise. You’re totally right, I was being ignorant about what could very well have been a medical condition that couldn’t be helped.

  20. Sandy
    25 May, 2022 / 11:28 pm

    Omg, my husband sniffs constantly! He has no medical condition! We cannot ride in the same car together, or I would definitely have to stab him with a fork! I don’t know how he can sniff like he does; every 6 to 7 seconds!!! It drives me insane!!!

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