A Catch-22 in the Amtrak Quiet Car

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2010/09/a-catch-22-in-the-amtrak-quiet-car/63679/