I travel fairly regularly by long distance train in the UK.
Previously I have always booked the ‘quiet coach’ where theoretically people are not supposed to have mobile phone conversations or talk loudly to each other.
Unfortunately the compliance levels are not so good and there are two camps. The first is very, very loud business people who decide to phone their PA, or colleagues or family and are the most indignant when it is pointed out to them (by me!) that they are in the quiet coach. Often they will remark, still very loudly to their caller …’I seem to be in the quiet coach ‘ as though
some alien Tele transportation process had unwillingly deposited them there, very much against their will. And of course that these rules are surely for other people, not important people such as them.
The other offenders are middle aged ladies on train journeys to visit family and I am far more forgiving of them as despite all the signage, they might not be familiar with the process.
So I grit my teeth as their call starts..”is that you dear?…Can you hear me?…I am on the train?…Yes it’s on time and I’ll see you at Kings Cross Station…” So conversation over I think? No chance…..they carry on “oh, I think I am in the quiet coach (Yes…you damm well ARE!!)…so I can’t talk for long” . There then ensues a 20 minute conversation covering all family medical, romantic and miscellaneous issues…probably negating the purpose of the visit at all!
Quite why they think the quiet coach is like the express lane at the supermarket as long as you have 10 conversation items or less!, you can use it.
So I have given up on the quiet coach..but I have decided what is now needed is a non-chatting coach. Not so much that others having conversations, conversations on the phone or face to face with consenting adults is an issue, it’s fine but don’t forget Abigail *, it’s people talking uninvited to me who are the problem! [ *Abigail was a fellow passenger on a train some weeks ago who had such an impact she featured in a blog post just dedicated to her.]
There is a time for sharing your work story, challenges or quest for information- but it’s not on my train. On a train journey earlier this month week an IT guru used all three hours of the journey and barely drew breath talking techno speak to me that would have put Bill Gates in the corner.
Barely a week later I then have a match-making mother sizing me up as a partner for her daughter…despite all the references I made to my wife, children, general contentment with my lot…she was undetered. On reflection perhaps I should have made it very clear I was not from a Polygamous sect… and able to add a another wife to my portfolio in case that was what she was holding out for.
And then, only two days later, the icing on the cake from another woman of a similar age….an interrogation…..although she told me she was a retired teacher from Devon…I am convinced she is ex KGB. She was relentless in her task…the more monosylabic my answers the more questions kept coming. Where do you live?, where have you been?, where did you stay?, are you married?, are you in a polygamous sect? (actually no, she didn’t ask that), when will you get home?, how did you get to the station?…no stone was left unturned, no aspect of my life was not investigated!
So come on train companies of the UK..non chatting coaches please. It will be called the Ask me to Share if you Dare coach!
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