Tuesday, 14 February 2012

First they came for my peace and quiet, but I said nothing

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

No such thing as 'The Quiet Carriage'

"Always be polite.
Until it's time not to be polite."

I get on the train at London Paddington. About 45 minutes down the line is Didcot, where I live. I get a seat to myself (by which I mean there was no-one in the seat next to mine), get out the laptop and begin to watch the final half hour of The Dark Knight, having watched it up to that point on the train into London from Ramsgate.

About ten minutes before the train leaves, a woman gets on with three children of varying ages, a pushchair and lots of bags. She and her youngest child (who, incidentally, it way too old for the pushchair) sit directly behind my seat, while the other two and their assorted luggage sprawl across the opposite side of the carriage, so that they can talk on the journey.

Well, I say talk, I mean the children will laugh, shout, yelp, shout, babble and shout the moment they park their arses. I'll be honest, that wasn't the problem. It wasn't the designated quiet carriage, and the children weren't being obnoxious or abusive. They were just loud. Fucking overbearingly loud. But hey, I've got my headphones on and Batman's knocking seven shades of shit out of the Joker; What's it to me? If the noise level is bothering any other passengers, I'm sure they'll say something.

Then it starts. The youngest child, not content with screaming across the four or five feet to his siblings decides that his conversation needs more percussion, and starts booting the chair in front of him. The one I'm sitting in. With the first couple of kicks, I figure that he's just squirming around in his seat (after all, his mouth can't keep still, why should the rest of his body follow suit?) and he'll calm down in a moment. And calm down he does. After about a minute of constant booting. I glance round but manage to make no eye-contact with any of the party.

Fuck it, he's stopped. I'll say nothing.

Then about five minutes later it starts again. A mid-paced rhythmic distraction across the lower half of my torso to accompany the background shrieks. Not constant enough to be unbearable, but certainly not infrequent enough to be accidental. The mother of the children isn't ignoring them by the way, I can hear her talking to them, but she isn't trying to get them to quieten down at all. Can I assume that she's so preoccupied by the sheer volume of her offspring that she doesn't notice her youngest child's legs beating away at the seat in front of him? Essentially, the seat in front of her?

It's not constant, it's sporadic. I'm only on the train for 45 minutes, I'll say nothing.

This continues until Reading, where a man gets on the train, asks if the seat next to me is free, then sits and gets his own laptop out. The kicking starts again. He's listening to music on his laptop, and this will bother him way more than it bothers me. He looks around at the errant child and its careless guardian. Seeing the look on his face both before and after the glance, I figure he's came to the same conclusion as me. He says nothing.

We're at Didcot now. I pack away my things and leave the train. I'm not going to say anything on the way off, there isn't time.

And that's my journey. Home 10 minutes later, done and dusted. I don't know how far The Noisy Family were travelling, and I don't know if anyone asked them to keep it down once the train left Didcot Parkway. I said nothing. I know people who would have had a word, and I know people who wouldn't. Most of the ones who'd interject would have asked calmly and politely if the kid(s) could show a little more consideration for other passengers. Most of the ones who'd leave it wouldn't want to make a scene or just wouldn't let it bother them.

I don't care about making a scene, but there are two reasons why I said nothing:

1) Although she wasn't being gobby and obnoxious, one look at the mother's mannerisms suggested that she'd be a fucking nightmare if anyone dared suggest that perhaps her parenting skills weren't all they could be. And since I'd have to spend the rest of the journey on the same train (and more than likely have to lug my two heavy bags elsewhere should the situation escalate, walking past her to do so), it wasn't worth the grief, frankly.

And, more pertinently...

2) If this woman hasn't taught her kids to shut the fuck up and not continually kick anything within range by this point in their lives, it's hard to believe that the reasoning, concerned parent is about to appear now. Yeah, the kids weren't being abusive per se, but that was largely because they were in a 'good' mood. I bet they're a pain in the fucking arse when they're stroppy (as is their mother), and I'm not going to be the one to test that theory. This disregard for other people and property will come back to bite her in the arse when the kids are a bit older and she can't control them when she wants to. Why the fuck should I get involved? It's not my job to raise your kids, you lazy fuck. I can put up with this inconvenience; it's temporary. However, karma has rewarded your laziness with years of inconsiderate behaviour and solid unabating noise. Good luck for the future, I'm glad you don't live in Didcot.

And in case you're thinking "Now, now: Judge not lest ye be judged!", go ahead and judge me: I'm the guy keeping to himself without bags all over the seats, trying to watch a movie in peace and inconveniencing no-one. What of it?

That's why I said nothing. The journey wasn't long enough.

Related posts: Oranges, Milk.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. I can sympathise and follow your exact train of thought. I always do that 'she/he looks beyond reasoning just let is pass' style of coping apart from one place. In the cinema I snap like an over-stretched rubber band to the point where my wife has to tell me what I said afterwards