The Quiet Car

We got up at 4 am the other day to catch an early train to the airport.
I drove because there’s dog hair on the passenger seat, and O’Half
gave driving advice on the way.

There was black ice on the roads from the recent storm, but we arrived
at the station in plenty of time.  The depot inside was cozy and warm and
it always amazes me that there are real people up and about at 5 in the
morning and ready to head to Philadelphia to work.

There were about a dozen of us, a pretty subdued crowd, but there was one
perky older woman chatting away as if she were a “regular”.

The train arrived and we headed for the first car, the “quiet” car.  This is
a fairly recent phenomenon (spell that!) and bans cell phones and radios,
loud talking.  It’s usually crowded because, I guess, it’s about the only place
left in the world for some peace and quiet.  Who wants to hear people
gabbing all the way?

We chose seats and watched as the little perky woman came on board and
marched straight to the front . . .greeting a tall man in the first seat and
nodding to two other women in nearby rows.  I guess she is a regular, knows
them.  She remained standing while she gave the news that her brother-in-law
was in the hospital, blah, blah.

It was still pitch black outside and we didn’t have a newspaper to read with us.
It would indeed be a quiet ride (a snooze fit in maybe?)

” . . . and so he’s all ready and waiting and a doctor comes in and says
there’s a problem.   The surgeon is sick.  What? how can a doctor be sick?
Well, I know they’re human, but  . . .”

Trainman walks through checking passengers, schedules.

” . . and so he says he’s not going through this again.  If you can do it, go ahead.
And he chose this other doctor–”

She’s still standing, sort of straightening her Burberry-like coat and her
Burberry-like scarf.  She’s neat, short hair all in place.  Has her life together
I think to myself.  And probably lives alone, so is ready to talk when she
gets out with people.  O says he likes her coat and scarf.  Hmph! I think.

She’s enjoying her show.  She ducks her head down a little, and says,
”  . . .and now he has a (whispered phrase)” and looks meaningfully
at her little group, “and my sister says he’s—-”

I try to think of something else and wonder when the train will be starting.

The trainman comes through again collecting tickets. He wants to see our
ID cards—as if we’re disguised as old people so that we can get away with
senior discount tickets.

Perky finally does sit down–one seat away from one of the other women,
and right behind that man and she keeps on talking as if they’re interested.

“No, he never smoked, that’s just it—his three brothers died young–”
“Smoking, alcohol”,  chime in the others knowingly.

“Woman of few words” I say to O’Half–one of our favorite codeword phrases–
“but she uses them constantly ” is the unspoken response.

“She has the first dollar she ever made,” I remark, which is code for those
darned people who are frugal and careful all their lives and seem immune to
troubles.  “No children,”  I add.

In the meantime, she’s been stymied, if that’s the word I want.  For the man
and both of the women have opened their newspapers and seem intent on
articles within.  AS IF OK CHIT CHAT TIME IS OVER.

Perky opens her own paper halfheartedly and all is quiet at last.   The woman
one seat over from her slips off for a nap, and P studies her, kind of
rudely since the woman has no defense while she’s asleep.  But then
returns to her own paper.

The rest of the ride is uneventful (and quiet!) and I think I dozed a bit.

I’ll bet the people at her office, though, will get the full story of b-i-law’s
exciting hospital visit when she walks in the door.  The news must be spread.

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2 Responses to The Quiet Car

  1. FictionFan says:

    I loved that comment ‘as if we’re disguised as old people’… 😆

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