Monday, January 23, 2012

The Quiet Car

A commuter now, the Complete and Total Loser takes the quiet car. The quiet car is his region's transportation agency's way to try to make its notoriously poor service more tolerable by reserving the first car of each train for people not interested in talking to each other or friends on their cell phones. The Loser, having no friends and a poor conversationalist, takes this car. The quiet car's patrons are invariably white and over 30; the young, noisy and sociable people sit in the rear cars, which make up the majority of them. 
As the Loser sits in the quiet car, surrounded by people reading books, newspapers, and magazines either in paper or electronic form, he imagines what's happening in the rear cars. He pictures them brimming with people in colorful native garb, dancing, shouting, balancing baskets on their heads, chasing after escaped chickens. He knows this isn't true, but he likes the idea.
Not all is perfect in the quiet car. The trainmen seem to take great delight in using the primitive loudspeaker system to tell riders the names of the approaching stops, something they already well know. The train line has new cars, pictured, which prevent this by having recorded announcements by a computerized female voice. The volume is a rational one, but she talks far too much. Still, the cars are an improvement. They reach the level of quality the cars the Loser rode when he lived in Japan -- in 1986. Ah, America.

Riders ride in silence aboard a train car reserved for those seeking quiet as they commute.

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