It's just around the corner, English civil war
July 7, 2012 10:26 AM   Subscribe

The Quiet Carriage (slv). Author Geoff Dyer discourses on the politics of the quiet carriage in trains. Part of the 5x15 initiative.
posted by Lezzles (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I like how he assumes everyone knows what a "quiet carriage" is and doesn't get to the point until 3 minutes in. The thing I hate about these recorded speeches is that they don't follow the sensible rules of a written essay because it's like "Hey, we're just talking here!" It's addressed just to the people in the room. But everyone who is listening after the fact is not "just talking" but is trying to extract information which is so tedious if not impossible.

This is a written account of complaints about the "quiet carriage"

All that being said, I ride on a train every day that has a quiet car and it's the most unproblematic thing I've ever seen. The quiet car is just quiet. The conductor mentions it before we leave and again when he comes in to take the tickets. People who want to talk on their phone leave the car. I gather that the trains this guy is talking about is different because he talks about families being booked on a certain car. But I like/don't like how he can just assume that there's one kind of train in the world. Which he can because "we're just talking!"
posted by bleep at 10:41 AM on July 7, 2012

He's got a point about the "trans-class alliance". It might be the only behaviour which unites the middle and lower-classes in Britain: a deep love of talking on phones in quiet places where they're not really supposed to (libraries, etc). Though I'd say it's the middle classes who actually take the most delight and satisfaction in doing so and feel the most affront at being asked not to.

But I really don't think Mr Dyer should bother asking people to be quiet in quiet carriages, he'd be a lot better off training himself not to be bothered by it.
posted by rubber duck at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2012

I used to travel by the quiet carriage, and then one day I saw an old man harangue somebody for accidentally leaving their phone on normal, and then getting a call. Since then, I've known that I'm just not enough of a prick to warrant sitting in the quiet coach.

I do, however, make a point of travelling with earplugs and a hefty book.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

They have quiet cars on some trains in my US city. I once asked a conductor if the train i was boarding had a quiet car and he replied "No, thank god." I wonder what that was about? Too much work or something?
posted by orme at 1:36 PM on July 7, 2012

He did have a point that quiet carriages in Britain just don't work as the fecking tannoy keeps blaring every two minutes anyway with pointless information.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:56 PM on July 7, 2012

I hate the quiet carriage. It's always full of the most miserable gits. If they hate other people so much that they can't even bear to hear them speak, they shouldn't be on public transport. They should buy a fucking car.

posted by ComfySofa at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

We have quiet carriages on Queensland rail, but to be honest, most of the carriages are really quiet now - everyone has their phone, ipad or laptop (or in some anachronistic circumstances) a book. It's a little eerie, but really nice. I've not noticed any douchieness. People travel in their own space without being disturbed by phone calls from weirdos to their dealer, explaining their issues from childhood (okay, so I do miss some of the fun of people-listening.)
posted by b33j at 5:07 PM on July 7, 2012

But how does this help when the guy beside you starts rolling joints and looking around really suspiciously, and you have to deliberately try to look like you didn't notice, so he doesn't think you are a threat?

Ok, that was a bus, not a train. The trains I've been on have been really nice.
posted by Canageek at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2012

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