You’re in the Quiet Car

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10/09/2007

Amtrak line between NJ and NY

Neighborhood: Across the River, Letter From Abroad

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“Whether you know it or not, you’re in the Quiet Car,” the conductor announced.

“That means you have made a commitment to silence. The first obligation is to shut off your cell phones. And just because the train stops at a station doesn’t give you the right to turn it back on to listen to your messages. The phone is off for the duration. If by some mistake you didn’t turn it off completely and it rings, you’re not allowed to answer it.

“But don’t worry about not having anything to do. The way this train has been running, we’ll most likely have an eventful trip. We’ve lost our electricity two times on the way here. There’s a good chance we might lose it again. There seems to be more electricity in the sky than in the wires.

“Don’t blame it on Amtrak. Blame it on Con Edison, then the weather. Amtrak isn’t responsible. We guarantee you a safe ride. But if you look at your ticket, you’ll notice there’s no fine print guaranteeing we’ll get you to your destination on time. Luckily, the driver used the train’s momentum to coast into the stations.

“Also, it was helpful that we were going downhill. Unfortunately, the remaining part of our trip is uphill. We’ll just have to wait for the electricity to get turned back on. How long that’ll take, I couldn’t tell you. I work for Amtrak, not Con Edison or the Weather Channel. So thank you for you cooperation. I hope I can thank you again for it when we’re stuck.”

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