Jangled on a Train

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Amazon.com. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Train Station 1I arrived some months ago at the San Diego train station ready to board an Amtrak Southern Coaster to travel up the coast of California on my way to my cousin’s house. I had not taken the train in years, and I was pretty excited about the whole thing.

I explained to the ticket clerk that I had just flown into the airport, and my ears were clogged from the landing, so I probably wouldn’t be able to hear the public announcement to board the train. She directed me to the handicapped section where an attendant personally retrieves those waiting there and accompanies them to the train.

When the time came, I walked next to a passenger in his motorized wheelchair who told me he took the train often. We were seated in a special car just for handicapped people.

Train 3

Much of my ride was spent multitasking–conducting business on my cell phone while looking out the window at the vista as it flashed by. The combination of my clogged ears, the clickety-clack of the train wheels, and the periodic poor phone reception made it difficult to converse.

Apparently, my voice was getting progressively louder unbeknownst to me. Suddenly, a hand appeared from nowhere and dropped a note onto the fold-down table in front of me which held all my business correspondence. It read: Seriously? (double underlined) Quiet!! Do we all “have to” listen to your conversation? Sh-sh-sh! Thank you

Oops, I had offended someone, although I didn’t realize that because one is handicapped one requires exceptional quiet. Nevertheless, I turned around to identify my assailant and assumed it must be the woman sitting two rows behind me who was hiding behind a seatback.

Train 2I stated in a raised voice, “I  apologize if I offended you, but you are always welcome to change your seat.”  She did not respond.

I continued my phone conversation but did ratchet it down several notches. A short while later, my assailant passed by holding a professionally printed sign which she held up briefly in front of me.  It said something like: Be quiet, this is a handicapped car. She then made her way further down the car and showed it to other perceived offenders.

I thought to myself, what a poor soul, and said to her as she trailed past, “I’m so sorry that I disturbed you.”  Her response: “I don’t care!”

Yes, it made me feel like shouting a retort at her back as she continued down the aisle.  I stopped myself realizing that this woman had enough aggravation in her life, and I could be charitable and not add to it.

If you are spending your brief time on this earth trying to modify the behavior of others to make yourself more comfortable, it won’t work. Focus your efforts on modifying your own behavior. In this case, the woman could have simply inserted noise-control earplugs or earbuds attached to a music device.

If you are impacted by someone like the aforementioned passenger, remember to be charitable and understanding of their quirks. After all, your life is probably so much fuller than theirs, and I bet you have a few quirks of your own.


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Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, seniors, successful aging, wellness

2 responses to “Jangled on a Train

  1. CNB

    I am 38 years old. I like your blog and find it inspiring. But you’ve missed the mark here. Have a little consideration for the people around you. The passenger was completely in the right, and your sense of entitlement says a lot more about you than it does the situation you describe.

    • I don’t feel I have a sense of entitlement. I explained that I was unaware I was offending anyone, and when I was made aware, I did alter my behavior. What I was trying to convey is that when someone’s behavior is offensive to you, an aggressive confrontation as happened in my story might work to vent your own anger and strike back. However, if your goal is to get the offensive behavior to stop, another method would work much better. In this case, the woman might have altered her own situation with the use of earplugs. Or, her approach to me might have been much gentler which would have put me in a better frame of mind and more willing to accommodate her request. I also mentioned how she approached many people in that train car trying to get them to alter their behavior to her particular comfort level. I don’t believe that method is ever the best choice. If you really want a situation to change, work on changing your own behavior, not that of others.

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