Anatomy of a Shush!

Five and a half years of regularly riding the rails, and I don’t believe I’d seen this before: a rider telling another rider to be quiet.

I see the passive aggressive attempts at shushing, aka the stinkeye, every damn day. I see the hiding behind the seat shushes, where the shusher doesn’t want the recipient to see where the shush came from, now and then too.

But one person looking another in the eye and telling them to shush? You’d think it happens all the time on Metro-North. It really doesn’t.

It was Friday evening. A woman of about 35 was sitting in the five seater, facing the rest of the car. She was on the phone. She was loud. She was talking about home repairs, endlessly, and used her spare hand to diagram the various home repairs–the kitchen cabinets (“where the rubber band is holding them together,” she said, the master bed faucet–for the person on the phone, who of course could not see her hand motions.

She had brown hair in a pony tail, had brown eyes, wore casual clothing (brown too), and was about as Plain Jane as one might hope to be.

Plain Jane Brown took absolutely no notice of anyone around here. Well, those anyones, and most everyone, started looking at each other with exasperation. Plan A, the passive aggressive one, was in motion. The stares. The silent shushes.

It didn’t work. On Plain Jane went about her stupid home repairs, the spare hand flailing all about, showing wainscotting and drawer knobs and rugs.

A man two rows in front of her seemed the most annoyed. He had buzzed gray hair and male pattern baldness. He wore a wrinkled white dress shirt.

He peered over his Wall Street Journal “Money & Investing” section and stared. (One note: If you’re only getting to “Money & Investing” at 6 p.m., you’re really not much of a master of the universe.)

My strategy shifted as his did. I went from getting her to shut the hell up with my eyes for my own peace of mind, to trying to get her to shut up to protect her from the angry dudes all around her.

The WSJ guy looked around the car for support, and presumably got what he was looking for.

“Shhhhhh!!!!!” he hissed over the Wall Street Journal.

She looked stunned, as if everyone spoke into their phones at full volume all the time.

She didn’t hang up, and she didn’t retire to the vestible. No, Plain Jane Brown continued her conversation, all the way to White Plains, by bending deeply at the waist and speaking directly into her lap.

She exited at WP. We hope there are ensuing chiropractic bills, and more issues with the kitchen cabinets.

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