Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Librarian feigns ignorance in Quiet Zone. Gets asked to move

I am on the Oshawa 753 this morning sitting in the Quiet Zone on the second coach from the locomotive.

While the train was still boarding, a school group arrived with eight kids and two teachers. Everyone climbed noisily up to the Quiet Zone. Breakfast was dispensed consisting of timbits and juice boxes.  The noise level was impressive.  Passengers already seated and who had settled in, threw some serious side eye while many begrudgingly packed up their possessions and moved downstairs.

At one point, with three minutes until departure and with one teacher standing in the aisle, and everyone seated under the Quiet Zone sign, a man who had just sat down asked the teacher standing if she knew what "quiet" meant and he nodded towards the sign. I chose to stay quiet because I was busy observing other passengers' reactions of annoyance which always provides plenty of amusement for me.

It was at that point that the teacher announced she was a librarian and said, "Trust me, I know quiet." I guess those were fighting words because from where I was sitting she earned zero brownies points and no laughter from the folks around me.

So one guy in a suit got up from the opposite end of the train and told the teacher and the students that if they couldn't be quiet, they should sit downstairs.  He was diplomatic and polite. He also looked important, like, CEO IMPORTANT.

As the group collected their things to head downstairs, Mr. CEO was profusely thanked for his enforcement efforts by several ladies sitting behind me. I also offered my thanks even though I think the Quiet Zone is the most counter-productive passenger comfort measure ever introduced.

Now I'm sitting here thinking of all the times I did what Mr. CEO did with nary a thanks or high five.  I guess I have to be a dashing male executive in a $900 suit.

Anyway, good on Mr. CEO for putting Ms. Librarian in her place.


Unknown said...

CJ I think you'd look smashing (British accent used on the word) in a $900 suit.

Nora1968 said...

Amusing story, CJ. I have to say that the part with which I agree primarily is your comment that the Quiet Zone is (and I love your turn of phrase here) "the most counter-productive passenger comfort measure ever introduced".

While I understand that not everyone (read: no one) wants to have loud, annoying conversations imposed upon them by fellow passengers, I actually find the entire concept of GO Transit - or anyone else - telling me when and where I can speak (particularly when I'm paying almost $9/trip for the pleasure) to be not only outrageous but likely a contravention of something, somewhere in that Charter of Rights and Freedoms we're supposed to be so proud of.

Since I prefer to sit on the ground floor and always have, it's a non-issue for me personally, but seriously - when a paying customer has to stand on the ground floor rather than take a seat for which they have PAID upstairs because they might have to field a phone call or wish to converse quietly with a friend, it sounds like a lot of people n3eed to revisit their understanding of the "public" part of "public transit".

Squiggles said...

It's a start.

In fact, had the second person not stepped in, everyone would have had to listen to her version of "quiet" for the entire ride.

Squiggles said...

@ Nora. I do agree with you. But want to point out that those sitting upstairs can and do talk quietly with their friends. What it is stopping are those braying asses that share everything with the other paying masses at a volume that is only suitable outside. With a jackhammer going at concrete right beside them.

Those of us who pay close to $9 a ride also deserve to ride in comfort and not listen to those people.

Besides, there are more seats in the Not Quiet Zone than there are in the Quiet Zone, so no one is forced to stand for their entire ride. They can move their ass to another coach if there are not any seats available in the current one.

Nora1968 said...

@Squiggles - your comments make sense and I completely agree that the right to ride in comfort and relative peace belongs to everyone.

I will admit that I was not aware that the Quiet Zone permitted quiet conversation with friends - if only this were unilaterally true. As I mentioned, I never sit there but a friend who used to prefer to sit upstairs (with another buddy) was treated to an ironically loud and invasive diatribe by another upstairs passenger one day when she tried to do exactly that - conduct a quiet conversation...I guess I have come to gather that some Quiet Zone passengers tend toward near-vigilante response at the slightest sound up there.

Thanks for setting me straight on that. However, I'm not sure I agree with having to move to a completely different coach (or roam the platform seeking one where there are seats on the main floor) - not always practical, or even possible.

Bicky said...

@Squiggles... "They can move their ass to another coach if there are not any seats available in the current one."

Studies done by GO Transit have shown that people are creatures of habit and some will not move coaches. Even if they have to stand, they want to be in the sixth coach because that's where they've always sat. They don't care there's available seating the next coach over.

And is it lost on anyone that we wouldn't need the frickin' quiet zone if people knew how to behave and be courteous in public?

LC said...

There are some passengers who think that the Quiet Zone is the Silent Zone. I've seen a lady get shushed for opening a candy bar wrapper!! It's very apparent that we all have different definitions of what "quiet" means.

Bicky said...

@LC, exactly! Which is why (to me anyway), the QZ is not a total success.

Valentino Assenza said...


" sounds like a lot of people need to revisit their understanding of the "public" part of "public transit"..."

Interesting point I do see what you're saying, but the variance, or philosophy of the "public" part of "public transit", should also work both ways for people that supposedly want privacy, and bring an exhibition of their private lives onto a train/subway/bus/streetcar etc.

The reason why a phone booth was invented was because at one time there was a general understanding by society that we simply didn't want to hear the contents of your phone conversations. Part of being in public at one point in time was not being privy to such nonsense. Now, there are times when we don't even get that choice. When I'm trying to read my book, I really don't need loud obnoxious conversations on a cell phone about whether or not the caterers are booked for this weekend, what the spreadsheets look like, the different sexual positions that we tried last night, and someone sharing with me their date of birth, social insurance number, address, and phone number while talking to the passport office.

Nowadays I'll hear someone's cell phone conversation, look at them, and nod my head while they are conversing, and of course they notice this, think I am crazy and ask the ultimate ironic question "Excuse me? Do you mind, can I have some privacy please?"
I've seen others employ the same tactic, in fact I was inspired by one such individual.
Of course, you want privacy, that would make sense considering you're in public, and just because you will yourself that other people don't listen to your conversations, doesn't mean they don't hear them. It doesn't work that way. If you jabber, whatever inane contents you do, we do hear them, and in a lot of cases we'd really rather not.

I'm at odds with the concept of the Quiet Zone myself because it really is a challenge to legislate courtesy and enforce it, but I think that there should be a happy medium. I mean a group of people loudly conversing whether they are just obnoxious, or part of the late night lakeshore west drunkards, can't be helped. But I would like to think that people aren't so self aware that they don't mind their surroundings, and that at the very least exhibit some form of caring for those around them.

Yes you paid $9.00 to ride the train, for that $9.00 perhaps you shouldn't be told where to sit and be quiet, and where not to, but someone else also paid $9.00 and they didn't pay to be overly exposed to an explicit tidbit or more about someone's life.

CanuckGirl said...

I might start an incident with this comment but she wasn't a librarian. She was a teacher who took a couple of extra "library" classes. Librarians have to do a masters degree on top of their BA. And we rarely work in schools. :(

C.J. Smith said...

Good burn!

Bicky said...

High five, CanuckGirl!

Anonymous said...

Just a Librarian that obviously couldn't READ.

Kelly said...

I was going to do the Librarian masters degree but timing was bad as I wanted to be a school librarian and they have cut them all. Sad. My chosen career no longer exists :(

April said...


The interesting part about public transit, is that it is, in fact, private property and so they can make rules that you may not like but if you want to ride the train you have to abide.

Your right to freedom of speech does not give you the right to say what you want, when you want, where you want. This right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms means that you have the right to openly disagree with your government without fear of prosecution or persecution. It means you can discuss politics without fear of going to jail.

There are things we say that are illegal and are considered hate crimes. Your right to freedom of speech doesn't override that.

You are confusing a right that is guaranteed by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms with your own sense of entitlement.

Entitlement is not a right.
Learn what the Charter is and what it means.

George said...

It continually amazes me that people like to refer to the Charter of Rights without actually knowing what it is and why we have one.

April is entirely correct in that the COR only refers to our gov't and not anything else.

I heard a guy complaining that his loud music in a public park (REALLY loud "music", rap crap really) was his right guaranteed by the COR and nobody can force him to turn it down. The cop demonstrated his error with a nice yellow citation :)

Tal Hartsfeld said...

You should try using the public libraries here in the States.
People having loud cellphone conversations, drumming on the tables, texting on phones that beep and blip every time a button is pressed, loud conversations---while I'm on the computer trying to read an interesting online post.
That lady is a librarian. Probably a modern-day type no doubt.