Friday, August 23, 2013

Not sure if there was butt hurt happening here

from: Mandy
date: Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 11:06 AM
subject: Quiet zone

Dear Ms Smith:
I found your website through a Google Search and Twitter. It seems you're an influencer when it comes to matters involving GO Transit.
I welcome your opinion on a situation I faced yesterday on a train that left Union at 4:53 pm heading towards Whitby. Myself and my three children, 10, 8 and 5 were returning home from the CNE. My oldest wanted to sit upstairs as we had come in that way and they can see the scenery better. We went up and sat together. The train wasn't very full at the time when we sat but by the time we left, it was packed.
One lady was upset that I wasn't holding my youngest in my lap. She was speaking to a friend she knew who was seated and I heard her question why all my kids were sitting. I didn't realize there were rules that children had to stand. My kids were excited after a good day at the Ex and my eldest and I were talking about our upcoming cottage plans, when the lady who took offence to my kids sitting while she stood, leaned over and told me, "This is a quiet zone, you should pay attention to the announcements."
Are these people not parents?
Shouldn't GO be relaxing this rule at the height of the Exhibition?
We weren't the only family on board. Where are we to go? We paid. We got there first when seats were available.
Are all of us supposed to stand after 8 hours of walking on the first level to appease people who, for one day out of 300, after working in an office all day, may have to stand and may have to put up with excitable children?
I emailed in a complaint with GO Transit but I am not satisfied. I plan on speaking to the media as well as I feel quiet zones are absurd on commuter trains operating during events and tourist season.
I noticed you've done some coverage on the Quiet Zone project but it's not clear to me if you're for or against this initiative. I await your response.

Mandy P

from: Cj Smith
date: Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 5:16 PM
subject: Re: Quiet zone

Hi Mandy!
I'm flattered that you think I influence anything when it comes to matters all GO Transit but the truth is, I don't. Don't be shocked. I really am not that important.

My website is mostly a means for me to highlight nonsense exhibited by fellow commuters and disruptions in service that provide an inconvenience and the lack of communication surrounding these disruptions. It's first world commuting problems all the time!

The Quiet Zone is a pilot project. It is not enforced. It is not policed and it surely is not the law of the land.
If anything, it's a pilot project in common courtesy and one that many commuters have taken to heart, such as the lady who pointed it out to you that you were in a Quiet Zone.

I really wish these same commuters would take a similar assertive stand to reminding people to keep their feet in their shoes, their shoes off the seats, to not smoke on platforms and to keep seats free of belongings so others can sit without asking if they can sit.

It's good you expressed your annoyance to GO Transit. I'm sure you're not the only family feeling like they have to sequester themselves "at the back of the bus" for having small children with them on the train this summer.  I'm sorry the woman made you feel like you were a nuisance.

For what it's worth, since you mentioned why you wanted to sit in the upper level, I do notice that many parents believe their kids want to sit up there and it's the first place they go when they board, but it's been my observation, even with my own daughter, that looking out the window while the train is moving is only exciting for the first two minutes and the rest of the 56-minute long (non-express ride) is spent with me trying to keep her occupied and amused (i.e. Toronto just can't come fast enough).

I have never seen any kid sit in a seat, on their knees and staring out the window for the entire train ride without not once fidgeting, kicking, jumping, yelling, asking for food, complaining about the ride, complaining about the length of the ride, wanting a book, wanting a toy, wanting to watch a DVD (again) and quite simply, just wanting to talk - not once. Not in five years.

To put it in perspective, and I am in no way defending this woman, but to answer your question, yes, a lot of us are parents and for many of us, those two hours we spend on the train five days a week are the only "me time" many of us get, especially the mothers. So many of them want to spend it in peace. They want to snooze, read, browse for shoes without being interrupted, watch a movie without kids yelling in their ear, or just sit and veg and enjoy the peace and quiet because they know once their key is in the door, there won't be much of that for the rest of the night.

So when you trample up the stairs of an express train home from Union Station with all your kids in tow, hyped up from a fantastic day at the Ex, people groan, roll eyes or express annoyance because they feel that their quest for a quiet ride home might not happen.

So it's not you, it's us.

I don't think there's anything GO Transit can do to change or manage passengers' expectations of other passengers, including those using the system as a means to get to an event, concert, convention, day-trip or tourist attraction. We all have to find a way amonst ourselves to get along.

So when this happens again, take the opportunity to tell the woman that you paid your fare, you can sit where you want, you will do your best to keep the kids entertained and they're entitled to sit. If she doesn't like it, she can complain to GO Transit and ask they implement a Kid Zone pilot project and make the first level of all coaches during rush hour the family seating only zone.

Personally I'm tired of this crap. It appears society can no longer govern itself accordingly.

This is the real issue. It's not kids or Quiet Zones or people expecting everyone to be quiet. It's the fact that no one can be accountable for their own actions.

Now knowing what you know, you have some options. You can time your ride home when you go to the Ex again to be on a non-express train, or you avoid the top-level if it is an express train.

In return, maybe you can suggest to GO Transit they remind passengers they will have to be a little more understanding during the summer time when families are on-board for a day trip and be willing to put up with a little inconvenience.


from: Mandy
date: Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 9:40 PM
subject: Re: Quiet zone

Hi Cj
Thank you for the reply. My kids are actually well behaved. They may not have looked out the window for the entire train ride but they weren't noisy or bothersome. All of them sat in their seats for the entire ride. Not once did I have to tell them to Shh or be quiet so although I get what you're saying, unless parents have holy terrors at home, not everyone should be on full alert for a major meltdown just because a family boards the train. That's a hell of a assumption. How did you come to that? Maybe this woman was just being an elitist cow. I didn't get the impression she was a mother. I got the impression she looked at my kids and felt they should be standing with tape on their mouths. If you were there, you would understand.
From your email it sounds like you don't support Quiet Zones. I don't think anyone should as it doesn't seem like a realistic expectation if GO Transit isn't enforcing or monitoring them. I also went to their website and saw that it's a pilot project so there really is no mandate. People can sit where they want. I read the rules. My kids were following them all.
I'm not about to change when I ride a train to accomodate the working folks, who if it's true, expect quiet because their home lives are a mess. That's just stupid. You're in a public space. It's unreasonable to expect silence.
I also find the trains themselves to be noisy. No one else finds the swaying sounds and track vibrations noisy? Are the trains themselves actually qiuet?
I figure you could be maybe put something on your site telling people who read it not to be so judgemental and also not expect me to hold a five year old on my lap for 45 minutes. If a person wants  to sit, they can get to the train earlier or too bad, so sad! There's no rule on GO Transit's website that says seats are for adult paying passengers only.
Anyway, thanks for your time.



Anonymous said...

I don't know about my butt, but my brain hurts.

Skin Man said...

Gotta love the texts!

I was moderately impressed with the arguments presented by Mandy. However, I disagree with her. I think that the quiet zone is a wonderful place. I ride the LSW and in the morning and evening and I find it very peaceful. What I am always amazed at is our ability to state that its "impossible" to expect quiet in a public when there have been several examples of commuter trains in major metropolitan areas that have successfully implemented quiet cars.

I was saddened that this women felt that someone expected her children to stand or sit in her lap....that's just not cricket.

Lastly, I was sorry to hear the despondency in your response CJ. Buck up, it's not all lost. There are lots of people here who agree with you and carry on the fight with you. Please don't give up. It really makes me feel good to know that you're out there fighting the good fight and I truly l.o.v.e the stories you reminds me that I am not entirely insane, and that there are other like minded people who want a civil society to live in. I am not as militant as you, but I do seek out all seats with bags on them and sit on them. It's not much, but its my little contribution.

Keep smiling!

April said...

While I fully agree that if fares are paid for the children they are entitled to seats on the same first come, first served basis as the rest of us. I also agree that there can be no realistic expection of quiet in the quiet zone during the exhibition. This is what has (barely) kept me from taking the Quiet Zone signs and smacking people over the heads with them.

Where Mandy loses me is when she becomes mean and entitled. The woman who was frustrated because she couldn't get a seat and couldn't have quiet is not an elitist cow, she is someone who has worked all day and maybe, just maybe, had a bad day.

Quite frankly, I am sick to death of parents that ignore the quiet zone announcements and refuse to deny their children anything. If your kids want to sit upstairs and it is a quiet zone, try saying "no dear". It works wonders. Mandy may think that her children are well behaved but I am pretty sure that differs from my version of well behaved.

I sit in the quiet zone because, as you said, CJ, it is the only "me" time I get. From the time I get home until the time my head hits the pillow there is dinner to be made, laundry to be done, dogs to be walked etc. The only time I have to read is on the train.

Yes. I am a mom. No, my home life is not a mess. Mandy needs to learn that the moment she starts spewing insults and starts thumping her self entitled chest, she loses all support.

Manners seem to be a thing of the past. When my kids were little enough to sit in my lap and someone was standing on the train, bus or streetcar, I would put my child in my lap and allow someone else to sit down.

There are no rules that GO Transit's seats are for adult paying customers only. But those adult customers are paying almost $300 a month to ride each day from Whitby and they support a transit system that allows people like Mandy to take the train one day a year to the exhibition. Perhaps Mandy could find it in herself to make "common courtesy" a little more common.

C.J. Smith said...

I have emailed Mandy and encouraged her to read the comments.

Squiggles said...

Well, I was with Mandy until her self-entitled attitude came through in the second email. What a Bi*ch. And it leads me to think that her kids are not all that well behaved.

I will admit, that as long as she paid all fares, all people are entitled to a seat and will cede a point to her.

However, to say that other paying riders (those of us who shell out big bucks to ride the train every freaking day) do not deserve to sit in a designated quiet zone? Nope, not going to happen. I have reminded people that they are in the Quiet Zone at least once a week. And in all cases, they apologised and shut up or moved to the middle level. That is what reasonable, well behaved adults do.

Plus, to imply that people's home lives are a mess because they want silence? How does that work for me? I am single, live in a house that I maintain on my own, where the only other living thing is some plants. Occasionally I will cat-sit my Mom's cat when they travel, but for the most part it is just me. How is my life a mess because I crave quiet?

When you have to start insulting people, you lost your argument for yourself. Any sympathy you might have gained from me (and probably others) just went out the door. And if I did see you on the train with your (obviously) misbehaving children in the designated Quiet Zone, I would have said the exact same thing.

Bicky said...

I was almost with Mandy until she said she was taking her complaint to the media. Why is it when people feel slighted, they must run to the media with "Poor me, I'm being treated unfairly! Woe is me. Feel sorry for me! Support me."

Yes, your kids are entitled to a seat, they paid as well. No, you're not expected to be silent like monks. But the Quiet Zone is not party central either.

GO would not have to implement a Quiet Zone if the asshats in the world could conduct themselves with some decorum and common courtesy. Ha! Common courtesy - not so common anymore.

I may not have a physically demanding job but mentally, I'm fried at the end of the day. I enjoy the peace and quiet and appreciate it when others adhere to the Quiet Zone.

The things we "complain" about are such trivial first-world problems when you look at what's going on in the whole wide world... we all need to smarten up a little.

C.J. Smith said...

One must only look at the recent tragedies and devastation in Syria to understand how Quiet Zone non-compliance would be the least of worries.

TomW said...

The Quiet Zone is not a Silent Zone. The 'rules' say that "quiet conversations are okay". I have no objection to well-behaved children. I had a bunch in my quad and the one on the other side of the aisle the other day. Sure, there was chatter most of the way, but that's infinitely preferable to loud, one-sided cellphone conversations, or the sounds from over-loud headphones.

If it's not form anything electronic, and it's your indoor voice, that's allowable.

(NB: I was the type of child who would spend all of a train ride looking out the window. Make of that what you will...)

TomW said...

General point: GO need clearer rules on what is and isn't acceptable. Confusion only leads to confrontation.

Anonymous said...

This woman should have recognized that it was The Quiet Zone (signage posted) and listened to the GO Quiet Zone announcements. The commuters who take the train 5 days a week after a LONG day don't want to listen to her hyped on CNE-EX kids (hence that's why they are sitting in the Quiet Zone). I believe if this woman had been a regular 'commuter' she may have been more understanding. I am tired of these parents that think because they are parents that everyone around them has to accommodate them.

Anonymous said...

Did my CNE thing on Friday. Caught the 9:41 in and ensure we WAITED patiently until after rush hour to get home because I am a monthly commuter. I don't want to subject my children to the horror of the sometimes very mean adults on the GO and, well, cause I roll my eyes at loud children. Happy to say mine were the best behaved people (not just children) on the 8:10 coming home :) Yes, they got a seat, first come first serve. Yes, they sat upstairs and sure didn't look out for long. But they were as quiet as I would expect them to be ANYWHERE on the train, coming or going, excited or jacked on sugar and yup, I avoided rush hour, sensibly :)

Anonymous said...

CJ. I continue to be extremely impressed by your capability in providing appropriate and respectful responses to your followers. I'm not sure I've formed an opinion on the matter at hand. After all there is Syria and the daily gunfire in GTA. Love your blog. Thanks for keeping it real.

C.J. Smith said...

Many times I refrain from pointing out how grateful we should all be that we're in a country where first world commuting problems are a problem for us.
I think many of us are fully aware of how good we have it, how safe we are and how lucky we are.

DF said...

again this another example of why children of today are so self entitled. Why cant this mother just sit on the lower level of the car ? but no, she has to stomp her feet and cry the blues because she cant get what she wants? yup, that says a lot about what her kids will be like once they grow up.

Rouge Hill-er said...

Her use of the phrase "working folks" intrigues me - sounds like she thinks that those who work are a separate breed. Does she not work? If she does not, and is receiving government assistance she should keep in mind that it's the taxes paid by those "working folks" that support her and her kids.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see how the students will adapt to The Quiet Zone when they return to the GO Trains next week for back to school.