The Family Car

A little while ago I saw a Facebook thread from a friend who lives in New York about the transportation system they have there. (Feel free to jump ahead if you know everything there is about the train operations already). She was talking about how during the week on commuter trains, there are special sections called Quiet Cars that adhere to particular rules. You can probably guess what they are based on the name: No Families. Read between the lines and the rule is saying “we don’t want your stinkin’ kids.” This is only during the week, apparently.

She went on to say that kids are allowed on weekends and she was complaining about how noisy and chaotic and hectic it was having these kids ripping around the aisles like they’re at Disneyland. That’s when the brilliant idea hit her—why not have Family Cars all the time? All the kids can be herded there and leave the rest of the riders in relative peace and quiet.

I get where she’s coming from, but the reality of this solution is questionable at best. Peace and quiet? It’s New York for god’s sake, the crème de la crème of somewhat loud train riders. I mean really, any large city is going to have trains with loud people. People on cell phones having wildly inappropriate conversations during rush hour, drunk people having conversations with everybody, rowdy people who just like to make noise or those weird eccentric people who talk to themselves. It’s not just kids who are loud on trains.

However, my friend doesn’t mind the loud adults, apparently. They’re okay in her book. But show her a mother reading aloud to their kids to woo them into a mid-afternoon nap (or at the least an attempt to keep them occupied on the train ride) and she’s got issues. She’s my friend and all but really?  Parents reading Horton Hears a Who is more annoying than a guy who had a few too many at happy hour and he’s now expounding loudly to all and sundry about his Fantasy Football lineup? Oh please, please, please let that be his Fantasy Football lineup he’s talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate screaming kids just as much as the next person; so the idea of the Family Car isn’t falling on totally deaf ears. Just muffled. As much as people annoy me (and they do so annoy me), I am well aware we don’t exist in self-contained bubbles where we’re free from any and all interactions that we don’t approve beforehand. Annoying people will always have access to us. Sometimes these people will happen to be children. Sometimes they’ll be full-fledged adults. You can’t get rid of everyone. That’s just life. Deal with it.

Trust me, I wish we had the technology to change this. Oh how I wish we did! I dream of living in the “Get Smart” days where I could ruthlessly activate a “cone of silence” over those irritating people who think train-riding time is also very-loud-and-very-private conversation time. Or hell, even at the cashier lane! Or in a restaurant!

I don’t want to know about your medical procedures. I don’t care about your husband’s toenail fungus. And I really, really don’t want to hear about what you found in your tissue when you blew your nose this morning. So what if your boss hates you?  Who doesn’t?  And who really cares? “Cone of Silence – Activate!”

Getting back to the Family Car vs Quiet Car why restrict it to certain ages or people?  Why not make it Loud Car vs Quiet Car and then stick every LOUD person in the one and every QUIET person in the other, whether they’re kids or families or not?

I mean there are quiet families.  They do exist.  Why should we “good” parents with well-behaved kids be thrown into that pit of vipers anyway? We hate the screaming and the noise and the misbehaving just as much as anyone.  That’s why our children know how to act in public.  So instead of making it a Family Car, make it a Loud Car.  Drunks, loud talkers, unruly kids and their parents, stick them all in there.  Quiet people of all ages – we get the Quiet Car.

It certainly makes as much sense as the original idea which was basically to throw families willy-nilly into one car assuming they’re all loud and unruly, while keeping childless adults on a Quiet Car because, as we all know, they’re sooo unobtrusive and well-behaved (nary a loud talker or rowdy one in the bunch!).  Yeah.  Right.

15 thoughts on “The Family Car

  1. Many people seem to have issues with children in public spaces. I think it’s a personal problem. Kids are kids. We were kids once. There are many well behaved children.

    • I agree. I believe kids deserve a little more slack than they get. I think people’s “in public” expectations have gotten out of hand. Although I also think that children should behave appropriately given the venue (cue parental supervision). But the thing is — this should apply to adults as well! And it rarely does! At least not as vehemently as it does for children.

      And you’re right of course, there are many well-behaved kids out there. They can’t all be thrown into the same lot.

  2. lol on the Hortons hears a who and I so agree! you should see the children on our public system here in Vancouver, they scream and shout loud enough to wake skeletons out of their coffins(I apologize if that sounds offensive) there’s just no getting away from it :O

  3. You can’t generalize any whole group. Some loud kids, some quiet. Some loud drunks, some sleeping it off. I like your idea of quiet and loud cars. The kink in that train plan is, the loudsters often times fail to realize that THEY ARE LOUD! I know this because I am one of these people until my quiet dear wife stink-eyes me or finds my rib with an elbow.

    Along a different but interesting tangent, there was one small live gig theater here that broke its floor down into two sections. Open space on one half for those who wanted to stand and dance, portable chairs on the other half for those who wanted to sit. Somehow, some people STILL bought the reserved sitting space and then stood up and blocked the people sitting behind them.

  4. I grew up in New York and know all about noise and I agree adults make a lot of noise on the trains in the streets everywhere. The problem with having a quiet car is that it is rewarding the parents with unruly kids to be allowed to be where people are who are wellbehaved. Instead of having a separate car why not just have the unruly not allowed to ride in the first place?

    • I’ve never understood why some people complain about kids being out in public yet they put up with loud, unruly behavior from adults in the exact same venue and don’t have a problem with it (or at least don’t complain about it). Personally, I just dislike loud, unruly people — regardless of their age. LOL While your solution might work wonders, I doubt they’d be allowed to do it. 🙂

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