The night I was kicked out of the Quiet Car

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Michael Barera

A peaceful ride home is all most of  us train riders want each night.  This is exceptionally true for all of us work-weary nut jobs who commute to the Mid-Hudson Valley.  That’s where 79-94 minute train rides seem reasonable.  Occasionally, I have riden the ellusive under-70 minute Beacon Express on the Hudson Line.  I felt like a Vanderbilt buzzing by Harlem and Croton hardly able to believe we wearn’t stopping until Dutchess County.  Reality sets in quickly that you are not amkng the 2%ers when your rearend goes numb sitting on those ultramodern Shoreliner cars I believed were first put into service 30 years ago.    But, not tonight.  It was the last rush hour Port Jervis express of the evening for me.  Tired.  Ready to just go home.  The conductor announced the standard “7:57 Express…first stop Suffern…etc, etc.”  He then reminds us that, “the last car of the train is the quiet car.This is a library like atmosphere.  Keep your voice low and no cell phone use.  If you do choose to use your cell phone, please note, you will likely be subject to ridicule and dirty looks.”  Or worse, as I found out two weeks ago, when sitting in the quiet car with my sister-in-law from a man with a blow-up neck pillow leanes over as we quietly chatted, “excuse me, just, umm, wanted to remind you, you’re in the quiet car.”  Which really means, “I spent $19.99 on this neck pillow, and I plan on using it, bub.”  I said to him, “Quiet car, this late, it is like 7:45.  It is after the rush.”  Neck-pillow man hardly had opened his mouth before another quiet car fanatic fired her verbal shot, “Rush hour ends at 8.”  She had us.  The quiet car army solidly together in silence.  It was over.  Not a peep more.  Just dirty looks.  My sister-in-law loudly attempted a final jab, “Well, we didn’t want to sit with you anyway.”  We left.  Pillowman, now drifting off, did not respond.  He knew he had won but did not celebrate.  Because, of course, he was in the quiet car. 

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