As a MARC commuter, I view the Quiet Car (QC) with the same reverence that the pope has for God. The QC, with its peace and no patience for talkers, is the only thing I like about my commute.

One afternoon, after a close call in making the train home, I noticed a voice mail from my pregnant wife. Pressing phone to ear (with volume low), I was distracted by a tap on the shoulder.

I turned around to see a smiling woman pointing her index finger at me. She leaned in to say something.
I assumed she was about to tell me the QC rules, so I nodded and said with a sneer, “I’m just listening to a voice mail” and turned around before she spoke. I crouched farther in my seat and cupped my hand around the phone to accommodate the QC extremist behind me.

Seconds later, I got another shoulder tap. Livid, I planned to give this lady a louder, ruder response. To think that I, a devout QC rider of six months — six months! — was getting lectured on QC rules was offensive. When I turned around this time, she was ready.

Pointing to the metal bar racks above me, she said only “grasshopper.” It was dangling directly above my head. I spouted “Thanks” and slid farther down in my seat, more embarrassed over my initial response than worried about a long insect in my hair.

Tim Schmidt,


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