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Pedicure Pest

I’ve just remembered a story about one of my old co-workers I wanted to disgust you with.

I used to work in a large department of about 14 people, processing payroll. We often suffered from paper cuts, loose/painful cuticles, broken nails, splinters,  etc. so I kept tweezers and nail clippers in my drawer just in case.

One day my coworker asked me to borrow the nail clippers. As I was stepping away from my desk I just said ‘sure, they’re in the top drawer’ and began to walk away. What she did next horrified me. She plonked herself in my chair and took the clippers out of the drawer. She then kicked off her shoes, plonked her feet on my desk, and began cutting, cleaning and filing her toenails. When she was done I told her to keep the clippers and cleaned my entire desk with industrial-strength disinfectant. How gross can you get?  0528-10

I had clear mental images of a scene from “Star Trek Enterprise” where Dr. Phlox is cutting his lengthy toe nails using a small cutting saw.  If I could have found a Youtube video of the scene, I would have posted it.

In situations like this, it is perfectly acceptable to express dismay while the activity is in progress.    Stop all movement and looking at the cow-irker with a slack jaw and wide eyes say, “What are you doing?  Kindly do that on your desk.”


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • M. June 24, 2010, 5:50 am

    Ewww. Excessive personal grooming in public gets me every time, and that’s coming from someone who freebases Sephora gift cards. Assuming I’m not at my table in a restaurant, I’ll reapply lip balm or put my hair back up if it’s escaped the elastic, but certainly nothing involving my feet.

  • SammyHammy June 24, 2010, 7:22 am

    Ugh…what does she do for an encore? Floss her teeth at a dinner party?


  • mahovolich June 24, 2010, 7:35 am

    Good friends came over for dinner one night. The husband asked me if I had a pair of nail clippers he could borrow and then explained that he had a scratchy toenail that had been bugging him for a few days. Why he felt he should fix it at my house makes me wonder. I declined the loan of the clippers with the explanation that he should do that at his house and not at a dinner party.

  • Moby Jane June 24, 2010, 9:02 am

    Aaaaarrrghhhhh! How disgusting! I totally agree with the Dame: in that case, I would have totally said something along the lines of, “Um… excuse me, but that’s my desk and I prefer it not to be used for personal grooming purposes. The washroom’s just over there.” And then told her to keep the nail clippers…

    This is one of the gross-out behaviours (along with spitting) that totally raises my temperature. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw someone on the subway calmly slide her foot out of her flip-flop, put it up on the seat, and start cutting her toenails. On the SUBWAY. And it wasn’t as though the car had a lot of free space, either!

    Were these people really raised by wolves? Or did their internal censors just atrophy as they grew older?

  • Susie June 24, 2010, 9:14 am

    Saw a woman clipping her toenails in the airport gate lounge and was so horrified I had to get up and move. Etiquette q- would it have been appropriate to ask her to stop/move?

  • Molly June 24, 2010, 10:13 am

    Wow, if it hadn’t been a female co-worker in this story, I would have thought it was my old officemate. He asked one of the secretaries here at work for her nail clippers and then proceeded to clip his toe nails over the trash can while there was a conference call going on in the same room. He had no clue why everyone was so grossed out. He also kept his electric razor on his desk for those last minute shaves (despite living 3 minutes away from work) and would hang his socks on the coat rack after exercising. He also was inconsistent about using deoderant and the loudest drink-slurper, finger-licker, lip-smacker I’ve ever met. Our supervisors had to speak to him on multiple occasions about his inability to distinguish the proper location for attending to personal hygiene, and I think the only reason he didn’t drive me crazy was that he found a new job and moved on.

  • C June 24, 2010, 10:25 am

    There was a guy at the gym that used to clip his nails while waiting for an elliptical machine behind me. One day I turned to him and said, would you please do that in the bathroom? Ewwww.

  • Orange Swan June 24, 2010, 11:15 am

    I think it would be a bad idea for me to read any further comments that may be posted in this thread! I did just have my lunch.

  • Dentonista June 24, 2010, 11:27 am

    Revolting. Now, I have never seen toenail clipping at work, but I very often hear nail clipping, and once – I swear, more than 10 clips…
    I simply don’t understand it.
    Chip a nail? Of course, trim or file it.
    Realize your nails have gotten a bit long? Do it AT HOME.
    At the VERY LEAST go to the rest room.
    For heaven’s sake!

    Worst I’ve ever seen? A woman injecting her insulin (I presumed) at her table in a restaraunt.
    There’s nothing shameful about IV insulin, but it is a personal care issue that should be taken care of privately!

  • Challis June 24, 2010, 11:48 am

    My boss clips his fingers nails at his desk and it drives me bonkers.
    A co-worker whistles, but I’m trying to get that one under control, he knows I don’t like it and often will catch himself and stop, saying “sorry, sorry I forgot”.
    but I must say I am feeling MUCH better about these small annoyances after reading this post!

  • didi June 24, 2010, 11:52 am

    i worked with a group of people who had to clip all toe and finger nails for friday night prayer- they did it outside in front of the door to the store,

    with customers inside going in and out, the clippers were kept on the counter next to the credit card machine and piles of nails were outside in front of the door

  • kingsrings June 24, 2010, 12:23 pm

    My stomach is turning just reading these stories, ewww to the extreme! I agree that in cases like these, it’s perfectly appropriate to stop such disgusting behavior, and there’s nothing rude about doing such. I can also understand though that at the moment, one might be so horrified and shocked that they simply can’t say anything.
    I once caught a co-worker brushing her teeth at the break room kitchen sink. I politely told her that it would be better if she used the employee restroom sink for that. I believe I told her that ‘some people might be grossed out by that’ concerning her using the break room kitchen sink, although anyone could see through that PA I think, heh.

  • MurdockFan June 24, 2010, 11:01 pm

    Ew to the toenail clipping but I’d like to respond to Dentonista’s remark about ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’ and it was a woman injecting her insulin and as it is a ‘personal care issue’ it should be done in the bathroom. Firstly, how is this any worse than taking a pill for a medical condition at the dinner table? Secondly, diabetics can be extremely discrete about their injections – I know from experience. And thirdly, I would never ask someone who HAS to inject themselves with a needle to go and set it all up (as you must) in the loos at a restaurant or whatever. Those places are NEVER as sanitary as you think they are and I would certainly not take a needle in there! My relative often manages to set theirs up very discretely (and a lot more sanitarily!) in their lap before quickly injecting.
    So yes, I apologise, but I MUST take issue with that remark. Toenail clipping is disgusting and unhygenic in public, but I CANNOT equate that with necessary and often discrete medication, such as insulin injections. Despite your assurance that there is nothing shameful about insulin injections, your reaction to the lady doing it publicly implies that there is. I can assure you, as a relative of a life-long insulin-dependent diabetic, there is NOT. It is no more a breach of etiquette I feel than if my relative were to take a pill before her meal – it is purely medicinal and cannot be fairly described as a ‘personal care issue’, especially if discretely administered. My apologies Dentonista if I have come across strongly and it is not meant personally at all but I feel like this point needed to be made in general for diabetics! 🙂

  • purple frog June 25, 2010, 6:41 am

    That is just gross. Where do these people get the idea that this is acceptable? However I do have to disagree with previous-poster about administering insulin. The designs of the needles now are generally pen style, meaning noone can see a needle entering the skin. Also a diabetic needs to eat within a certain timeframe having taken the insulin, when eating out unpredictability of service can mean waiting for the food to be delivered, a line for the bathroom = cold food. Not a faux-par IMO.

  • SammyHammy June 25, 2010, 7:08 am

    Okay, I’ve got a good one. I’d almost forgotten about it!

    A few years ago I worked for a medical school that was interviewing upcoming med school graduates for spots in our residency training program. We usually had large groups-maybe 20 candidates per day. It was a very regimented schedule-coffee/breakfast, a few minutes of socializing, then everyone takes a seat while the program director, chairman and chief residents give a welcoming talk. Following that, I would take them to their individual interviews, and so on.

    Well, this one candidate, a female wearing tight, lime green stretch pants (???) got up in the middle of the chairman’s welcome, casually walked to the back of the room, whipped out a pair of clippers and cut her fingernails over the trash can.

    She did not get a spot in our program.

  • Xtina June 25, 2010, 8:25 am

    Ewwwww….totally heinous!!! I don’t mind seeing someone clip their finger- or toenails, in a proper place such as a salon or bathroom, but it really skeeves me out when someone is doing it in an inappropriate place, especially given that sometimes the clippings can, um…..fly about. Yuck, and completely unsanitary.

    Something I was wondering about with this story; the way the OP wrote that they all suffered from torn nails, etc., made me wonder if everyone else also had clippers/files, too, or just her, for the whole group to share? I understand that the grosser of the offenses here was the person proceeding to use the OP’s desk as the salon for her *feet*, but if she thought it was gross for someone to use her clippers at all, then why did she loan them out in the first place? Or was it that it was OK for someone who borrowed them to trim only errant fingernails? I sort of view clippers as “personal grooming” and don’t really care to share those in any case.

  • zhoen June 25, 2010, 1:21 pm

    There was a woman at church when I was small who always used the time to clip her nails, that loud snap is startling and disgusting.

    The worst was when I floated to a surgical center, and heard an old anesthesiologist clipping his fingernails during surgery. Not like a flying paring could have gotten on the sterile field… oh, wait, yeah, it could. I did report it, but he was done by the time I’d gathered my wits enough to say anything. I was the one stranger in the room, and the surgeon should have said something.

  • Laura June 25, 2010, 2:10 pm

    Although the majority of the stories are horrid, I do need to add my voice of displeasure to Dentonista’s statement that injecting insulin is a personal care issue. As a type 1.5 diabetic, I do have to inject before I eat. Before I was on the pump, I could do the injections in public with no one being any the wiser. Going into a bathroom to do an injection means not only the danger of losing your pen needle (because a lot of bathrooms in public eateries are lower light), but putting a hole in your skin in a place that is not always the cleanest. Would you tell someone who needed to take a pill to take it to the restroom?

    You can live without clipping your nails until you are in the privacy of your own home. Unfortunately, I can’t live without my insulin. It’s a different ballgame alltogether.

    Sadly,now that I have my pump, I face another type of dirty look based on etiquette. People think I’m texting during meals-not dosing myself with meds.

    But insulin injections are not personal care issues. Leave the diabetics of the world alone!

  • Kippie June 25, 2010, 6:47 pm

    My flabber was completely gasted one day when I heard the “clip, clip, clip” of nail clippers…….during the sermon at church!

  • Annie June 25, 2010, 8:00 pm

    A friend of mine told me the following horrific tale: she had purchased some hot chocolate, and took it with her when she went to a professor’s office to ask a question. While speaking with him, she set the almost-empty cup down on his desk. He picked it up, said, “Mmmm, hot chocolate!” and proceeded to take the straw out and lick it off. He then spent the rest of their discussion cleaning his fingernails with the straw.

  • Original poster of 'Pedicure Pest' June 26, 2010, 2:13 am

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who was disgusted by this, and that it’s not normal.

    Xtina- I, like many of my colleagues, have a tendency to be fussy. I always carry a service kit of a nail file, clippers, tweezers and a safety pin. I have absolutely no problem with my colleagues borrowing my clippers if they have a split/broken nail, as it is frustrating to keep catching it on things in the office. However, I would not allow them to proceed with cutting and filing each nail until perfection- that is definitely something that should be done at home. Toenails should always be done at home. Imagine if a toenail had flown of into someone’s lunch! Yuck!

  • Janie June 27, 2010, 5:42 am

    I used to work at a checkout and was unfortunate enough to be privy to some activities that should have been exercised in private. I had customers file their nails, cut their nails, pick their teeth, brush their hair and still remember one woman who pulled down her top to nurse her baby who must have been close to 12 months. Surely if you can’t do these types of things at home, at least have the decency to use the restroom!

  • Enna June 28, 2010, 9:32 am

    Clipping toe nails at work is yucky as they go everywhere.

    @ Laura, I agree with you in your disagreement with Dentonista. I’m type 1 Diabetic. I inject at the table at a restuant. If I can’t inject at a restuant table then I can’t eat out (never been told that I can’t) – I won’t inject in the toliets as that is unhygenic. In one Diabetic magazine I read one female Diabetic injected in the toliets whilst on holiday in Turkey. The chambermaid came in saw it and started to scream “DRUGS! DRUGS! DRUGS!” in Turkish.

    In most restuants most people don’t notice as they are too focused on their food or chatting to their firends/family. At the same time I try to be discreet such as putting my handbag on my lap to sheild it (in case a needle-phobic person sees it) and make sure that the people I’m with aren’t needle-phobic. If they are they just look away or chat to someone else. Some firends at school were silly I just ignored it. When I injected in MacDonalds they said it was “disgusting” I said “it’s what I have to do.”

    Geniune medication is a different ball game all together. My blood test strips come in little plastic tube containers. I keep a couple of empty tubes so I have a safe, hygenic way of storying any used lancets/needles so I can take them home and put them in my big sharps bin.

  • Fanboy Wife June 29, 2010, 8:49 pm


  • Kat June 30, 2010, 9:48 am

    I completely agree that cutting toenails in public is rude and unhygenic. However, I have to disagree that the same thing applies to nursing the baby, @Janie. While it’s weird to do it in the checkout line, and I’m awed that that woman was able to balance the baby while in motion (was it in a sling?) I don’t think it’s the same as cutting toenails or brushing hair. The baby doesn’t understand that it’s in a line, and they do not wait well. Would you prefer that the mother waited to nurse while the child screamed?

  • Lexy July 1, 2010, 11:07 pm

    That is repulsive. If you have to groom yourself in the workplace, there are bathrooms for that – and you need to clean up after yourself. Nail filing and the quick hairstyle adjustment are pretty much the only personal grooming things that should be done in view of everyone.

    When it comes to injections for medical reasons, I believe it’s to the individuals choice – a lot of bathrooms in public places are beyond a health hazard and some people are courteous enough not to make a huge production out of their medical treatments.

    Basically, if it’s something you do at home in your shower/bathroom, it should never be done in full view outside the home (I have a charming story from high school about tampons and eighth-graders I may have to submit one day x_x)

  • Lisa July 2, 2010, 1:23 am

    You would think that woman would have the common sense to realize that wasn’t appropriate! Feet are dirty!

    And that scene from Star Trek Enterprise is awesome! I think it’s from an episode called “A Night In Sick Bay”, btw…

  • Enna July 3, 2010, 3:38 pm

    That is a very good defination Lexy. I don’t do my injections in the shower/bathroom at home so why should I do it in a restuant’s toliet? I do it discreatly incase so no needle phobic people see it.

    As for breast feeding – if the woman has a baggy top on and does it in a modest way so she doesn’t show any breast maybe that is okay as it seems unfair to let the child go hungry.

  • essie August 23, 2010, 1:44 pm

    Regarding the “nursing a baby in the checkout line”, if the child was about a year old, surely it could have waited until the mother had checked out and gone to the car.

    I was at a restaurant with some friends a few months ago when my friend’s mother decided it was time for her insulin injection. She announced this to everyone within earshot as she said “[Friend’s name], you need to help me with my insulin injection now.” I was a little shocked that she would expose her belly in public like that, but then she took the shot in her left arm; my father always did it in his stomach.

    Anyway, I realized later it was a bid for attention; she felt neglected because everyone at the table was, at that particular moment, talking to someone else at the table. (Her idea of a good conversation is to have someone/everyone else listen to her talk.)

  • Boo Boo August 26, 2010, 2:42 am

    Clipping toenails in public places? Seen it a million times. I live in *an Asian country*, used to live in *another Asian country*. I’ve seen people do this stuff – and worse – in public every day. Hocking up loogies onto supermarket and restaurant floors, nose-picking (and occasionally nomming the contents), letting babies poop on the ground outside shops … and these are ADULTS doing it! Nail clippings in my space are the least of my worries …

  • Michelle P September 5, 2010, 2:37 am

    Good grief. Nauseated just listening, especially @ Boo Boo. I hope you’re exaggerating!

  • Moi September 21, 2010, 1:07 am

    What you shouldmhave said: Excuse membut I need to look for something at my desk. Could yo groom your toes somewhere else? Thank you!

  • Guinevere April 10, 2011, 11:23 pm

    I used to work at a large chain grocery store, and was enjoying my lunch one day in the lunchroom, when a woman I did not know personally sat directly across from me at the table and started clipping her fingernails and filing them. There were many other seats she could have chosen, there was even a washroom next door. I can’t remember how I reacted, I think I said “Ummmmm?” while giving her a very weird look. This was her cue to start talking to me about her husband and continue on. I stopped eating, and went out to my locker. I had no more appetite. I think I was just in shock that a person could be so utterly rude, oblivious and disgusting, and also work in the deli of a grocery store. I, uh, no longer shop there. You just never know.

  • countrylady July 4, 2013, 2:40 pm

    I’m not sure I understand how nursing a baby equates to clipping one’s toenails in an inappropriate setting. A baby who is hungry can’t always wait til you get home, and there are many great products available now that make discreet nursing easy. I had a great nursing cover that I used until my daughter was weaned and while out was obvious what I was doing under that cover, nothing was exposed.