Murder in the Quiet Car

July 24, 2015

Amtrak’s designated quiet cars ought to be conducive to silence and peaceful contemplation. Turns out they’re tense battlegrounds between the entitled and the noise police.

An old saw has it that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like to divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t. I’d always thought I belonged to the second category, but it turns out that there really are two kinds of people: those who want silence and those who apparently can’t imagine what that means.
When I lived in Houston I knew a woman who kept her radio on all day while she was at work, on the theory that her cats enjoyed listening to country music. I found this charming—I don’t know what the cats thought about it—but I didn’t live next door to her. Then I moved to Charlottesville, where my downstairs neighbor, who didn’t have so much as a houseplant, liked to leave his television on while he was at work. When I asked him about it he seemed disconcerted; it was just what he did. Maybe he thought it was what everyone did. I explained that I often worked at home and needed quiet, and he agreed to turn the TV off when he wasn’t there. I concluded that a strange relation to noise was a Southern thing.

 

The Daily Beast has the full story by Elisabeth Ladenson by clicking here.

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