Train Ride Challenges

train signRecently I traveled to Manhattan using Metro North. How many times do you think I changed my seat before I settled down for the hour-long ride? Hint: the same number of times I switched my seat in the last public movie theater I went to 7 years ago. Got your guess? OK, then here’s how it went:

When I walked into the car, I quickly scanned the seats hoping to find one where I would be by myself, no seatmate. Luckily, this was not a peak train, and there were a few to choose from. I chose one with the promise of a peaceful ride and sat down. But, what’s that? The man in the seat across the aisle was having an animated conversation on the cell phone. I waited a few minutes, then a few more, and finally, convinced he was engaging in a business call and was not ready to conclude it, I picked myself up and moved.train no cell phone

By now, all the solitary seats were taken so I chose a 3-seat bench, with a lady near the window, and myself at the aisle. A nice space in between. I opened my book, started to read and …. What’s that? She was listening to some music and her ear pieces were leaking! Not acceptable.

I next decided on a seat next to a nondescript man who was staring out the window. No noise, no music, no baggage on the seat. Perfect? It was, until he started sneezing and coughing every few minutes, spraying God-knows-what in my air space.

The fourth seat was a charm – the person who shared my seat was watching a movie on his tablet but his ear buds didn’t leak and the activity wasn’t distracting to me as I buried my head in my book. Mission accomplished in 3 moves!

So, here’s what I try to avoid in a seat:

Snoring, cell phone and screaming, no thank you!

Snoring, cell phone and screaming, no thank you!

·Talking on a cell phone.

·A small child with parents who inevitably give the kid a blow by blow description of scenery out the window, or discuss what they’re going to do in the city.

·Leaking ear buds.

·Any group of teenagers, especially if they’re passing around a bottle of “water”.

·Loud talkers, particularly a group of women looking forward to a day out boozing and eating.

On the other hand, the following are desirable in a seat location:

·A person reading on a Kindle.

·A child plugged into anything electronic that doesn’t beep, ding or buzz.

·Someone sleeping (and not snoring).

·If middle seats are the only ones available, 2 thin people on the ends.

Gotta try the Quiet Car!

Gotta try the Quiet Car!

Recently, Metro North instituted a Quiet Car. I have yet to try it. Perhaps on my next ride in.


  1. linda Levine

    You certainly covered the many miseries of commuter train riding. I once enjoyed a Quiet car on a train from Boston. I was almost alone . I had a good book and while on the train,
    I ate a nice Sushi meal purchased previously at the train station. Bliss!

    • Sounds like bliss to me. Train travel is (mostly) wonderful!

  2. I made that trip so many times during the years I commuted to The City that I think i am more or less immune to the distractions of others. Oh, wait, I did that in the 80’s before the explosion of cell phones and other portable electronics. I could never do it again. 😉

    • Actually, the proliferation of smart phones has made that part of it less noisy. Now, people text more than talk!

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