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The implication of nail cutting on buses

by Natalie Leung

For how many times did you see someone cut their fingernails on a public bus? To me, the answer is countless.
I've seen this definitely unpleasant scene on both big and small buses, of Transmac and TCM. And these people, sorry to say that but as far as I remembered, were all women and mostly middle-age. No matter they were sitting in the front, at the back, near the windows or on a packed bus, it seemed that they didn't feel embarrassed or uncomfortable at all to fish out a nail clipper from their handbags, trim their fingernails one by one while everyone on board was forced to listen to the sickening noise of the manicure.
Yet just last Friday when I was on board the bus No. 33 going from Taipa to Macau, for the first time I saw a man, probably in his 50s, trim his nails in front of me, and in front of many others who were holding the handrails or sitting next to him.
I told my friend, a Portuguese, who was on the bus with me, that such behaviour was a complete nuisance. Although he didn't seem to be very annoyed, he did say that he never saw this happen in Portugal because it would be very unpolite to do so.
It was a complete shock to me when I first witnessed such an "extraordinary" scene, in Macau. I had never seen this in any of the places I had been to but only in Macau. Is it odd or not? I honestly don't know. But I can assure you that seeing someone trimming their nails in such a closed and cramped space on a bus really gets on my nerves. Every time I will imagine myself confronting the person, scolding at her (or him) that how selfish and disgusting it is to cut your unwanted, full-of-germs nails which may "bounce" to the hair or the clothes of someone sitting nearby, and even not to this "victim's" knowledge.
That's why I buy those scholars, lawmakers, experts or whoever's suggestion to the government that Macau is very much in need of comprehensive civic education.
Some may say cutting fingernails on buses is not such a big deal, but I will argue that the quality of the people can generally be truly reflected through seemingly trivial matters.
I would say one of the most straight forward ways to upgrade one's manner is through cultivating a lifetime reading habit. I believe a person who loves to read is very unlikely to do something improper in public, just like they won't pick noses because they understand it's a disrespectful behaviour.
In western countries such as Australia, the USA and the UK, it's very common to see people carry a novel around and read it while waiting for or travelling on trains or buses. A similar phenomenon can also be found in some Chinese societies except the novels are usually swapped to be handheld game consoles.
Having no major bookstore somehow tells us to what extent is reading prevalent in Macau. Once I heard someone saying no international bookseller was interested in the Macau market because they found no business prospect here.
So for now Macau people, especially those who are looking for a variety of English novels, can only resort to the massive basement bookstore across the border in Gongbei. Unfortunately Macau just isn't ready to earn book lovers' money yet.