Yesterday on the commuter train into the city, everyone was on the phone but me. It was a perfect cacophony of blather. All my fellow passengers were talking at once, each one-sided conversation more insipid than the last. “I’m on the train!” “The second apartment we saw was even smaller, but I loved the kitchen.“  “I’m on the train!” “You found the document? Great! Now make five copies and give them to Mark.“ ”I just got on the train!” “The podiatrist was out of the office, but when the nurse saw my bunion, she…”  “I’m on the train!”

Okay. So you’re on the train. Now could you possibly shut up about it for two seconds?

There wasn’t a quiet car or I’d have been on it. All the cars were noisy cars. The  blather was inescapable. All I wanted was to relax, read the paper, and watch the world go by.

Good luck with that.

“The cat threw up — again? Did it have that weird green stuff in it?”

There was a sign at the front of the car asking riders to be considerate of others by keeping their conversations low, but everyone was too engrossed in cellular chitchat to read it. Let’s face it — consideration for others goes right out the window when people pick up their cell.

I’ve always loved the commuter train. I enjoy zipping past streets and suburban backyards. I love the ease and convenience of getting into the city by train instead of getting stuck on the freeway. I’ve been taking this train for two decades. Before there were cell phones. When you could enjoy a quiet ride. Maybe even a pleasant chat with a fellow passenger.

“The vet bill came? Did you throw it out? The hamster died, didn’t she? I mean, who ever heard of performing surgery on a rodent? He should have talked us out of it.“

“I’m getting off at the next stop.”

Is it really necessary for everybody to be this connected to everybody else? What if everyone on your speed dial didn’t know that right now — at this very moment — you’re on the train? I’m guessing they could cope.

“You can go right to hell, Henry! I don’t have to put up with your bullshit!”

How I long for a little peace and quiet.

Instead, I’ve got an iPod with noise-canceling headphones. When the cell phone cacophony becomes unbearable, I can slip them on and listen to something more interesting than “I’m on the train!”

Nowadays, you’re either ignoring everybody around you by talking on your cell or ignoring everybody around you by vanishing into your own private iPod zone. Soon there will be no possibility of connecting with anyone. We’ll all be living in our own personal electronic bubbles.

So go ahead, cell phoners — enjoy yourself! Blather away. Don’t stop talking for a moment. Ever. Putting down your phone and actually acknowledging your fellow human beings, maybe even getting into an actual conversation with the person sitting beside you, would be completely out of the question. Anyway, what would you say? They already know you’re on the train.

All I know is that if I had a time machine, I‘d go back, find the person who invented the cell phone and strangle him. Meantime, if you need to reach me, I’m on the train.

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  • irene October 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    As a [Seattle] bus commuter, when I hear “I’m on the bus,” I listen expectantly for “so i can’t talk now,” which follows amazingly often. Here, most commuters are silently gazing into their iphones. (I enjoy seeing stone faces break occasionally into animated grins.) An oblivious 2-sided conversation can be just as irritating, sometimes moreso, as there remains no surmising that the exchange might be more interesting than it appears. Either way, the ipod-book combo does the trick.

  • kate September 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I had rodent surgery. Actually the rodent had the surgery; I paid for it. But it cost a lot less than an i-phone.

  • Eleanore Wells September 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I keep threatening to, one day, repeat word-for-word in an equally loud voice the caller’s obnoxious conversation…but I’ve never really had the nerve. Maybe one day!
    eleanore – The Spinsterlicious Life