The Trainjotting Book Review: “There’s No ‘I’ in Carriage”

After last night’s debacle on the New Haven line, it seems fitting for us to review the new train etiquette book There’s No ‘I’ in Carriage today. No ‘I’ is penned by Martin Merton PhD, and it’s a whimsical “self-help guide to becoming a more considerate commuter.” (You can read the PDF version here.)

About the size of a thank-you note, Merton’s book is a corny little tongue-in-cheek guide. Cheeky chapter heads (“The Taming of the Shoe”, “Legs Wide Shut”) instruct commuters how not to be the door blocker, the cellphone shouter and the car litterer we all know a little too well.

Australia-based Merton satirizes the preachy, pedantic style of self-help writers. “Each time you are inclined to drop something that you don’t value on the train,” he writes in “Exterminating the Litterbug Within,” “try dropping something of extreme importance to you instead — it is object replacement therapy.”

Merton, who also wrote Your Shoulder, My Pillow and Flatulence. Finding the Right Moment (we wish we were kidding), then suggests dropped your wallet when you were about to drop the newspaper, or dropping your kidney–yes, your kidney–instead of an empty soda bottle.

Merton’s humor falls somewhere between Benny Hill and your 9-year-old. For the guy on the train with a propensity to spread his legs wide, Merton suggests, “Coat the crotch of your pants with superglue and then sprinkle it with birdseed. When you next catch the train take a hungry chicken with you. Each time you open your legs the chicken will madly peck away at the seed. From now on your legs should remain shut.”

We think the book should too.

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