Yesterday I left the house at 5:30 am for the city and got back on the train at 7:44 pm to go home meaning back at the house at 9:40 pm. Long day. On the Long Island Railroad they have begun a volunteer experiment of “quiet cars.” No cell phones, very low talk, let the fellow passengers doze off. I was on the quiet car, and I really needed a bit of sleep.
The ruckus started very early with a self-important ass who insisted that he only had $4.00 for the off-peak to peak exchange where he needed $5.00, or indignation that the conductor could not give change for a $100 bill. The conductor let them pass and went away. I paid my $5.00 and said thank you. We had to hear all about the injustice of the conductor and the graft of MTA employees and how his mother now retired was general counsel for some outfit and he knew all about it, more than he needed to know—we now know, for a half hour. Eventually he and his GF got off the train. I dozed off.
Then this lady sitting two seats from me, facing toward me, with a very loud snarky voice got on her cell phone and went on and on talking to someone about some girl that was at risk and on suicide watch and was probably drinking and the lady was going on and on about how she would conduct the girl’s therapy sessions, if it was her daughter she would do this and that, yada yada. No way to sleep through that.
I considered getting up and going to sit next to her so that I could hear better but I stayed put. Several people, including the conductor, asked her to tone it down, and told her it was the quiet car. Eventually we got near the end of the ride and the end of her call.
When she stood up she saw me and she said that she was sorry.
I was impolite. I quite loudly shouted that she was a fucking bitch and that I did not want her fucking apology and to go away and shut the fuck up. This is not characteristic of me but I felt an overwhelming need to do equal measure to her obnoxious indiscretion. Her apology I took as an insult. To accept her apology would be to let her get away with her public behavior. No way. The entire car could hear me. She turned and moved toward the door where she whimpered that she did not know, she was not a ‘train’ rider, but that now she knows … early in the trip she was mouthing off about the conductor’s high pensions that they would squeeze a passenger for a dollar. She knew.
At the door one polite passenger reinforced to her that this is the quiet car and that she should learn to behave herself. The other passengers held onto the handrails while they stared into space with pouts like they did not want to get any on them. I went and stood directly behind her until the train stopped and the doors opened. It was raining.
Close-up portrait of young man in subway car courtesy of Shutterstock