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A Catch-22 in the Amtrak Quiet Car

A most excellent dialogue, overheard by Goldblog, in the quiet car of the Acela heading back down to Washington (and passing through beautiful Chester, Pa., as I write): A man boards in Philadelphia, and asks a woman across the aisle from me if the seat next to her is free.
She responds: "This is the quiet car."
He says, "Yes, I know. Is this seat free?"
She says, "This is the quiet car!"
He responds: "Yes, but I'm allowed to ask if the seat is free!"
"You don't have to raise your voice," she says.
"It's because you won't give me an answer."
She says, "I'm just trying to give you a warning that this is the quiet car, that's all."
He says, "Will you just tell me if the seat is free?"
"Could you please lower your voice. This is the quiet car."
"May I sit here?" he asks, quietly.
She moves her newspapers, and he finally sits. I'm sure it's going to be a very relaxing trip for him.

Another reason the trip might be less than relaxing: The Amtrak K-9 unit is training new dogs in our car, so the silence is also interrupted by police officers yelling, "Search!"

It almost makes me want to be on the Delta Shuttle. Almost.

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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