Girls and Guys Who Spit in Public

by Matt Savage

Illustration: Natelle Quek

This is something that has been starting to irk the shit out of me lately. I’m not sure why I care so much, maybe it’s because I’m becoming more sophistimicated, but likely it’s just an annoying pet peeve. What I’m talking about is the act of people who spit in public places.

As I was walking back to my office today from a coffee break I happened to cross the paths of a young lovely woman moving in the opposite direction. Nearing closer and closer, she suddenly makes a throat clearing sound and then quickly unloads a wet sticky yellow wad of phlegm mere inches from my feet. Fucking gross.

Now here’s the thing, I’m not completely adverse to spitting, in fact, it was a popular past-time in elementary school amongst my fellow schoolyard brethren. Distance and aim were the name of the game and we did it often, typically from the highest point we could climb up to. In my day, we called it “hawking a loogie.” So yea, it’s a pretty fun male bonding thing, but when you are a grown ass person in a public area, well that’s when things like manners and class come into play.

As social artists, these are types of minor things that need a good look every once in awhile, as it’s sometimes easy to overlook such things. Though spitting in public might seem like an obvious bad mannerism, it certainly wasn’t clear to the previously attractive girl that spat in my vicinity today.

Of course, I will admit, seeing a hot girl like this spit so openly is a fairly rare occurrence but what isn’t rare are the guys who frequently feel the need to spread their saliva across the city. I haven’t gone one day in a Boston subway station without seeing some thuggish dude dribbling his throat snot all over the platform. What the fuck guys, haven’t you seen the looks of disgust you are getting from the ladies?!

I think some people just don’t realize that taking a look at small bad habits like spitting in public could possibly increase their ‘class’ levels significantly or at least keep from detracting from an already attractive person.


GirlX July 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I’m with you on this, I think it shows a lack of class and courtesy for others who are going to step in your throat goo. It makes me irate when people spit near me. If you feel the need to regurgitate things that often, perhaps you should bring a cup with you… then you can carry your grossness with you too. The only thing worse than spitting is a snot rocket.

Vincent Ignatius July 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Was she a foreigner? This is acceptable in some cultures.

I agree with you though, it’s disgusting and inconsiderate.

pillowchats July 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm

People always say that depending on if you look straight ahead or down determines your confidence. Wrong! I look down because I don’t want to step on other people’s spit. It’s so gross I don’t even want it on the sole of my shoes.

Matt Savage July 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Oh man, don’t even get me started on snot rockets….

Vincent Ignatius,
It’s hard to tell if she was foreign or not, she was a Caucasian though, so I suspect that she was likely American, not positive though.

joe September 30, 2010 at 1:46 am

grow up. nobody is hurting you by spitting. worry about something more important and keep your social commentary on trivial issues to yourself.

Mononoke September 30, 2010 at 2:38 am

Like everybody here besides “joe” I agree. And I think joe is probably a gross disgusting man for thinking this is ok to do in public. I would be more ok with it if people at least spat into the bushes, but on the other hand you usually don’t see people urinating in public. spitting should be illegal unless absolutely necessary. And it should be for the bathroom only.
Its not very civilized to “hawk” in public.

Matt Savage September 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

I am grown up, which is why I’m a big fan of having GOOD MANNERS while in a public setting. Though no harm is come to me or anyone else by spitting on a public platform and though I don’t think it should be illegal, I do think that it is rude and uncivilized.

I’ll defend your right to be a disgusting slob but I sure as hell won’t have any respect for you.

Yes, it may be a trivial matter but you know what, this is my blog and my way to exercise freedom of speech on social commentary. If you don’t like it then I suggest you never visit again.

Good day, SIR!.

Jennifer September 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

“Yes, it may be a trivial matter but you know what, this is my blog and my way to exercise freedom of speech on social commentary. If you don’t like it then I suggest you never visit again.”

*Applause* well said.

Katy October 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I can totally see why you think this is gross but I have to say, there are times when I’m sick and I’m coughing up a lot of phlegm and if I’m walking around outside and I cough some up in my mouth, I’m sorry if it offends you but I’m not going to swallow it and I don’t always have a tissue to spit it into so sometimes it’s gonna end up on the ground.

Jean November 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Ok, I spit all the effing time….
And I STILL agree it is horrible, vile, disgusting, etc.
And I’m male, stated for demographics.

Many of us could stand to clean up our act. I have issues with feeling mucus in my throat. An explanation, not an excuse, it is easier to get rid of it by spitting than to cough something up or deal with a choking sensation. It is also anti-social and unsanitary, and very poor manners.
But I see a give-and-take there, as I don’t like hearing other’s music, cursing, vulgarity; dealing with other’s poor driving, English, immorality, what have you. So my right to have ‘A’ vice, as in one, is MY RIGHT, and in return, I need to tolerate other’s vices, too, including our demon of smoking. (Current vice being targeted, alongside alcohol.)

And swallowing it is nasty in the extreme, and I’ve already been too graphic – so just understand it could get worse. ;-)

Steve November 25, 2010 at 12:21 pm

This is pure speculation just based on personal experience and gut feeling, but I think public spitting is a way that men or groups of men send a lightweight disrespect/hostile signal of “we are not afraid of you, don’t mess with us”. Again, I’m not trying to pretend to be an armchair anthropologist, just my experience. If I’m walking by a group of guys that want to put out a hostile vibe, one of them spitting is pretty much a given. I’ve taken up the tactic myself, when approaching two or more dudes, I spit immediately after they notice me.

Women spitting doesn’t gel with my theory, but OTOH it is pretty rare as far as I’ve seen.

Jennifer November 25, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I thought of this post last night as I was at a bar and saw this woman, dressed rather scantily and dancing like a temptress… spit into the garbage can. At first, I thought she was getting rid of her gum or something. Then, she did it again… and again… and I thought WTF? Is she sick? Does she have chew in her mouth? What is with the spitting? It really took her sexy factor down a few notches, that’s for sure.

Johnny English February 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Wow – So many Communist sympathizers out there well in Communist China it’s illegal to spit in public. What I find disgusting is over weight people in spandex or tight cloths. People walking down the street eating with their mouths wide open & food hanging out. People smoking and dressed like hookers because they think it fashionable. All this is truly gross, but I will not demand it all be made illegal because it is their right to do so. Well I personally will continue to spit in public as it is my right to do. I will not allow some dictator wanna be supporter to take that away from me. I hear Gaddafi of Libya needs supporters maybe he will make it illegal for you.

Mononoke March 18, 2011 at 11:56 pm

It’s Ma’am or miss to you sir.
But also now that I’ve had a few months, or how ever long it has been, to think on it. Your right it shouldn’t be illegal, because that wouldn’t be very “American” of us to make silly rules like that.
People are aloud to be rude if they please, it leaves me more room in this world to be civilized.

Mononoke March 19, 2011 at 12:07 am

That’s not very lady like. I wonder what people think about when they see you spit out a nasty ball of phlegm?
Have you ever thought of spitting into a garbage can? It’s cleaner AND it just looks like your spitting some gum out that way.
And if your thinking “well I’m not always around a garbage can”. well if you in a downtown or next to any business, the owners will supply a garbage can outside. You know like 7-11.

Mononoke March 19, 2011 at 12:11 am

@Johnny E.
your absolutely ridiculous. “I’m going to post a rant on a forum about commys”.
Also you are gross and nobody will ever respect you.

POFkid June 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

Dude. I have quirks. And one of them is that I expect those around me to have some kind of manners. And if you are going to go around being vulgar in an unfunny way. Expect to be barred.

Paul KMF August 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I only do this when someone demonstrates some “body language” that I think is offensive, such as staring or making a snide comment that doesn’t quite “cross the line”. I’m saying “I spit on you”. It’s just short of flipping someone off.

Badoo November 7, 2011 at 2:52 am

^^^Lol. Whoa. The only time I ever really think to do this is on the football field. But you know, in a confrontation, normal rules go out the door I guess.

Susannah Stretch December 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I may spit in public on a daily/nightly basis, but I am always careful and considerate of those around me. I am a 44 y.o professional lady, mother of two teenage daughters. I am not a rude person. However, if somebody sees me spitting, I have no shame. After all, how many times do I have to walk through cigarette smoke some lady or guy has just blown into my face. This, I do hate!
Susannah(London, UK)

Your Mother March 8, 2012 at 12:31 am

@Everybody. How did I get here? And what’s wrong with spitting? Good lord you guys wouldn’t make it two weeks in the wilderness. Thank goodness for the Ipad…

Anonymous July 1, 2014 at 4:17 pm

About that hot chick making that loogie: she probably did it for health reasons. Sometimes mucus that is swallowed will not get fully digested in the stomach and/or intestines, and if this happens then respiratory pathogens such as streptococcus and/or staphylococcus can exit the anus and then find their way into the vagina. Strep or staph in the vagina is a VERY SERIOUS problem. Probably it’s healthier to spit when you have to, especially for the ladies.

Anonymous July 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm

The “hot chick” probably hocked the loogie for health reasons. If phlegm is swallowed, and not fully digested then pathogens such as strep and/or staph can make their way completely thru the intestines and exit from the anus. In a female, these bacteria could get into her vagina and a vaginal infection caused by strep or staph can be VERY SERIOUS! Ladies might be better off if they would get rid of infected respiratory material directly but discreetly.

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