I took an afternoon train, it is a short trip and sold out – so I stand.
Conductor makes the usual public announcement over the speakers about a very busy train and asks that extra bags not utilize seats folks didn’t pay for, so others can sit down too. He asks that the Quiet Car be just that and respected. He asks that reserved signs not be removed and respected as well. Additionally, seats designated only for the disabled be just that: only for the disabled. The announcement is all very even-toned, polite and encouraging of cooperation.
Another conductor several cars removed and near me, turns to nobody in particular and asks knowing the answer: “Did anyone hear that announcement? Hear it even remotely, one word of it?”
His voice carries an edge of a silent answer already delivered.
A college age kid, sitting a few rows back, head down checking his phone in one hand and raising a beer to his mouth with the other, says: ‘nope, not a word of it.’ To which his buddy concurs, chuckles and looks out the window.
The conductor adds again to no one in particular: ‘Fifteen years I’ve been doing this and every year, every year . . . it gets worse and worse.’
The kids sense the rising tension and alter course with nods of agreement. With this new found bond of alliance, the conductor continues with frustrated inflection: “people will sit in reserved seats and say: ‘I’ll move when someone comes and needs it.’ “No, that is NOT what reserved means! Every year it gets worse and worse. Every single day, I have to ask someone to move from the notated Quiet Car … unbelievable! I just don’t understand it.”
More silent thoughtful agreeing nods from the seated two . . . perhaps guilty themselves on more than a few occasions.
It is then that I hear my voice, most a matter of fact, punctuate the drifting silence from the corner of the car: “Entitlement. They feel entitled”.
The conductor looks sharply my way and exclaims: ‘Yes, that’s it!’ as if this word has been on the tip of his tongue all day and just now, he has found it.
I nod and turn towards the doors as the train slow into my station stop.
Sent from Rail 📞 . . .
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