Was he right or wrong?

185

The other day I was on the train to the Newcastle Science Festival.  I was in the Quiet Coach (a coach which is supposed to be for those wanting to travel without being disturbed by annoying mobile phones, etc.), and a woman with a baby came in and sat down.  The baby started crying and a man in the coach asked her to leave.  Was he right or wrong?

I put this on Twitter and it evoked quite a reaction, with lots of people suggesting that men and women had quite different opinions.  But is that really the case?  Vote now and justify your opinion!

185 comments on “Was he right or wrong?

  1. Noadi says:

    It was designated as a quiet area and the baby was unable to be quiet. I am sympathetic to the fact that babies aren’t able to control their crying but I assume the rules of the coach were clear and posted for all to see. Now if a baby who wasn’t crying was asked to leave because it might make noise, that would have been out of line.

  2. JazerNorth says:

    You only allowed for black and white answers. There are other options, such as being very kind and asking the lady if she needed help with her baby. Another option would be to leave the quiet train yourself. I couldn’t vote because the answer I was going to choose is not one of the options.

    • ButMadNNW says:

      Firstly, in my experience, a lot of parents are … weird about strangers offering to help/touch/do anything near their kids. Secondly, the source of the noise should be required to leave the quiet cabin, not the gentleman who was in the cabin first and expected it to be quiet, as it was designated.

      I will say, however, that if I were in that man’s position, I probably would have flagged down a rail employee and asked them to enforce the quiet zone rather than being a “vigilante”.

    • JazerNorth says:

      Agreed sort of. I have a child, who is now a bit older than a toddler, and when she was younger I was glad to have other people entertain her. I didn’t let her out of my sight or reaching area, but I did let others play with her. It builds social skills in the child. I’d think that a mother with a crying baby would be happy to have someone sit down and start to entertain the baby for/with her. But, all that said, most people who ride the train in the quiet coach are so stressed they don’t stop to think what their own actions will do to others.

    • Miko says:

      Sure you can vote: your answer is (presumably) that he was wrong to ask her to leave (which, incidentally is the wrong answer). If he doesn’t ask her to leave, he’s free to do all sorts of other things including leaving himself. But either he asks her to leave or he doesn’t: no gray area possible there.

    • ButMadNNW says:

      Like I said, in my experience. I swear whenever I ride the tube in London, if I so much as smile at a kid, their parent(s) glare at me like I’m about to kidnap their child. And I’m a young white female; I don’t think I’m scary looking.😉

    • Tom says:

      ‘There are other options, such as being very kind and asking the lady if she needed help with her baby.’

      If I were out with my children and one of them was acting up and someone was ‘kind’ enough to ask me if I needed help looking after them… it would be a terrible scene. Yes, a lot of parents are ‘weird’ in this way, though I don’t think it’s ‘weird’ to take umbrage at a stranger saying: “Your infant is crying! I, a stranger, would be better at placating them then you, their parent.”

      For what it’s worth, I’m with the parent in this scenario. Before there were mobile phones, there were no ‘quiet coaches’ – the word ‘quiet’ in this context means ‘free from mobile phones’ and nothing else.

    • ButMadNNW says:

      “the word ‘quiet’ in this context means ‘free from mobile phones’ and nothing else.”

      I disagree. I’ve seen those coaches. The riders don’t take kindly to even an adult traveling group talking amongst themselves too loudly.

    • Tom says:

      But just because someone doesn’t take kindly to something, the rest of us aren’t compelled to go along with them. There seems to be a general feeling of what ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ be allowed, when all that is relevant is what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ allowed. We’re not debating the wider principles of jurisprudence here – it’s up to the train operators what they ban and what they permit on their trains. As far as I’ve seen, the ONLY thing banned in quiet coaches is the use of mobile phones.

    • Richard F says:

      Tom, the word quiet in fact means no mobile phones, no talking above a whisper, no loud headphones. It’s not a matter for interpretation. The signs re clear on entry and byevery window.

    • NoAstronomer says:

      ButMadNNW said:

      “I probably would have flagged down a rail employee…”

      Good luck with that!

      Mike.

    • katie k says:

      Tom- If that was true, wouldn’t they call it “Cell Phone-Free Coach” instead of “Quiet Coach”? I get the feeling the intended meaning in this case is the same as the literal meaning.

    • Ythaca says:

      I think she should have been at least given a short period of time to quiet the baby so I voted he was wrong. I the statement had been the baby had been crying for a while, a couple of minutes, etc., my answer would have been different.

    • kches76 says:

      ButMadNNW said:

      “I probably would have flagged down a rail employee…”

      So you believe they exist? Can we have a vote on that too?

    • Paul Berry says:

      Yep, every train has at least a driver and a guard. The guard may hole up at the front or rear of the train when done with door and ticket inspection duties, but can be summoned with a knock on the door.

  3. ButMadNNW says:

    I’m female. I don’t care how cute/sweet/quiet your baby is; all babies eventually make noise. They have no business being in a cabin where people expect to have a low noise level.

  4. Dave Rickey says:

    Looks like the women in your sample tilt even further to the man’s favor than the men.

    I understand the woman’s motivation to come somewhere her child would be less stimulated (I’ve got a 2 year old), but when the baby started fussing she should leave rather than deny the same peace to the other occupants. It’s about as discourteous as the people who bring infants to action movies and won’t leave after the inevitable happens.

    –Dave

  5. Scott says:

    Noadi has it spot on. Why should a crying baby be the sacred cow here? I’m sure there would be other scenarios that would fit the same bill. Someone with downsyndrome, perhaps?
    Or what about the location? Perhaps a non-smoking area and someone lights up? I’m not being very imaginative I know, but the point remains.

  6. Grenangle says:

    I’m male. I would not have taken my kids in there. I so want to hear the rest of this.

  7. Daryl says:

    As the parent of a young child, my immediate thought is “give the woman a fricking break. I’m sure she’s having a hard enough time as it is”, and I find it hard to empathize with the other side.

    If you’d asked me two years ago, however, maybe I would have had a different response. But I expect I was a total prick back then.

    • Miko says:

      On the contrary: you say that you’d choose the option that most benefits you without regard to how it affects other people, both then and now. That might make you a sociopath, but it’s unrelated to whether you’re a prick then or now.

    • ButMadNNW says:

      As someone who has been the aunt of a young child, I disagree. When my nephew was young, if he started throwing a fit or crying while my sister was out in public, she would perform her responsibility and remove him from the situation. It’s fewer stimuli and less stress for the kid, it’s polite not to disturb those around you, and if the child is acting up, they don’t “deserve” (for lack of a better word) to be out having fun.

      Granted, a baby is too young to control his/her responses, so punishing him/her for not settling down by removing him/her from the “exciting place” isn’t on. But the rest of my statement stands. It was the quiet coach. It’s the mother’s responsibility to take her baby elsewhere until s/he quiets down.

      And even a quiet baby isn’t “quiet”. There’s gurgling, toys rattling and clattering, the mother talking to him/her…

    • Tony says:

      This is a typical response of parents who think that they have a special right to sympathy and understanding, just because they are with a child in public.

      Yes, it can sometimes be stressful to be travelling with children, but you have a choice which coach to travel in. When I am travelling alone I use the quiet carriage, and hope to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet. When I am travelling with my small children, I wouldn’t even consider using the quiet coach.

      This is not difficult.

      What no-one yet has suggested is that the woman may not have realised that it was the quiet coach. I speak to quite a few people for whom this is the case. If someone is using a mobile (loudly), often if I point this out they are very apologetic and either move out of the carriage or hang up. It’s not always a huge confrontation.

    • Simon Taylor says:

      The woman surely knew her child quite well and knew that the baby was likely to be noisy, therefore she should not have entered a quiet carriage in the first place.

      She is probably the sort who demands her own parking space for “Mother & Baby” as if parents of children are some sort of elite in society. Why having a child is treated like a debilitating disease I really don’t know.

      Those of us who don’t or can’t have children do find this most irritating of course!

    • Daryl – as the parent of a young child, your immediate thought SHOULD be “I can’t be sure my child will be quiet, therefore it would be quite inconsiderate of me to bring my child onto the quiet car.” If you don’t think that thought and expect others to to the same, then you’re a total prick right now.

  8. Kag says:

    It all depends on the regulations of the coach.
    Both are neither right nor wrong.

  9. louise says:

    i think he was in the right but rather lacking in compassion. i hope he has the frustrating chance to experience an unsettled baby of his own. ( or actually, for the child’s sake, maybe not).

  10. BlueHornbill says:

    It was a quite compartment, so when the baby started crying the woman should have gone away from her seat preferably to the next compartment or at least till the door area to pacify the baby and then came back. People choose that compartment to get some peace and quite, nobody has the right to deny them that. I speak as a woman who love kids but also as a regular traveler on quite coach.

  11. Richard says:

    If you woman was trying to get her baby to sleep, then a quiet car is just the ticket. We used to have such conveniences for mothers, but I suspect we have replaced them all with special amenities for boorish men who believe they were born adults.

    Babies cry. They do not do it on purpose as an optional activity (like using the cell phone).

    We now have excellent audio devices to block out unwanted sound for those who cannot stand the noise. They know who they are, and should purchase one.

    The man was wrong to ask her to leave.

    • Tom says:

      Lets look at this from the other side – I would not dream of telling kids to be quiet in a playground as it is designed for them to play, have fun and make noise.

      The whole idea of the quiet carriage is so you do not need to bring noise suppression gadgets with you, you can have a peaceful journey and be able to work, sleep etc. In return you agree not to not bring things that make noise into the quiet coach or, if you do, you turn them off.

      Since you know that, at some point during a journey of an hour or more, a baby will make noise, you do not go into the quiet carriage with a baby. It is nothing to do with boorish men, but inconsiderate people that put their wants (to get their baby to sleep) above those of an entire carriage of people that want peace and quiet.

      It is hugely annoying that people think a baby gives them the right to do what they want. And before you ask, I have 2 kids both under 5 and when babies I would never dream of taking them into the quiet carriage

      The only exception I can think of is when the train is full and they are the only seats left available.

    • Berber Anna says:

      A crying baby emits the same amount of decibels as a jackhammer. I prefer my hearing intact, and won’t play my music LOUDER than a jackhammer. Therefore, it cannot drown out the noise.

    • Cell phones ring. They do not do it on purpose as an optional activity (like having a baby).

      See how that kind of logic makes the same amount of sense (i.e., none) in reverse?

      The proper answer is not one of Richard’s options: she should have been informed/reminded that she was in a Quiet Coach the second she entered with her baby, and that she should leave if the baby were to start crying. The mistake here was to wait until the situation escalated.

  12. I believe you might be making the wrong comparison. In stead of asking for gender you should be asking whether the person answering has a baby.

    • Bren Strong says:

      I agree. How this may pan out could do with who has children and whether they travel with them.
      I (a male, btw) know if I were travelling with either of my children, I would prefer to take a quiet carriage, as there is a greater chance that they will sleep through the journey. It would also be less chaotic around them with mobile phones and earphone buzz, etc.
      Perhaps if the gentleman who demanded the lady leave had waited, she could have cooed the child or fed them to sleep anyway.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The man was wrong to ask her to leave. It was rude and uncompassionate.

    However, I feel the woman was ‘more’ wrong. She should have moved without having to be asked, out of courtesy to the other passengers.

    I’ve been in a similar position after taking a sleeping child into a quiet carriage. He woke up, grumpily. I immediately got up and left. I had to ask for help to move all our bits and pieces, but stranglely enough people seemed very willing to help us on our way!

  14. The problem actually starts with the train company. A century of experience has shown that ‘public transport’ is incompatible with ‘quiet’. To designate a carriage as a quiet area is to invite problems, and is a practice that should be stopped. It is possible to define an area in which people don’t use mobile phones or play music without suggesting all other noises can be prevented. The second problem is that the guy buys into this marketing sleight-of-hand and pretends he expects to be able to travel with no passenger noise. Unless he has just landed from another planet he is simply being arrogant. Finally, the baby is a baby, doing what babies do. As fellow human beings it is incumbent on us to recognise the basic humanity in everyone and to see our connection to them. A crying baby is communicating, and an adult who objects to this has got profound problems so the guy is wrong, but he is probably psychologically disturbed.

    • Pogo says:

      What if it were a ‘noisy’ carriage, playing loud music, and a woman came in with a small, tired child and asked it to be turned down? Kids are still kids, is it still “incumbent on us to recognise the basic humanity in everyone ” or can we say that we all have to be tolerant of each other, regardless of whether we are parents or loud music lovers?

    • Tony says:

      >> A century of experience has shown that ‘public transport’ is incompatible with ‘quiet’

      Wow – you mustn’t ever travel by train, I’d guess.

      I think you’ll find that the concept of quiet coaches has been around for slightly less than a century.

      And I travel in to London every weekday morning, and always use the quiet coach. I’d say that over 95% of the time it’s haven of peace and tranquility. On the other occasions it is one person either being inconsiderate or ignorant of the rules.

      >> he is probably psychologically disturbed.

      The guy wants to be able to enjoy the quiet carriage for its intended purpose, and he’s “psychologically disturbed”. That’s just an amazing viewpoint.

      There is one quiet carriage per train, and anyone likely to have anything/anyone with them likely to make noise, can sit ANYWHERE ELSE.

  15. slw says:

    Just because you managed to get a baby to pop out of you(a feat the vast majority of human females is capable of), does not give you the right to annoy others with it.
    If you bring it to a place which is expected to have reduced outside noise levels (a library, a theater, a sleeping car in a train, a spa, etc), then you should be able to keep it quiet. If you can’t, you’re getting out of there.

  16. Chris says:

    Right. If I’m in the quiet coach, I’m there because I want quiet. Whether it’s a baby or a mobile phone making noise is irrelevant – if it’s likely to be loud, it shouldn’t be taken into the quiet coach.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the way he asked was slightly tactless, but in terms of the request being right or wrong it seems fairly clear cut to me.

  17. lifes says:

    He was so right. If I go in the quiet zone I expect it to be just that.

  18. Me says:

    Wonder if “parent/not parent” would be a more relevant break-down here.

    • Rusty says:

      Peace and quiet may be even more important to parents due to its scarcity!

    • lisa says:

      Female parent that agreed with the man. While I wouldn’t have asked her to leave (because I know what’s that like) I also understand that once my baby starts crying, she and I are violating the agreement of the quiet room.

  19. Richard F says:

    I use the Quiet Coach every week on my return from London. The regulations ban phones, speaking above a whisper and listening to music too loudly. I have asked people to be quiet and I have been asked to turn down my music. You would be surprised how quiet it can be in there.

    I use the quiet coach for three reasons typically…
    – Being right at the front of the train there’s usually less people in it at departure, so more chance of getting a table
    – It is more conducive to getting some work one
    – If I have had a particularly hard week, there’s a better chance of getting some sleep.

    I can sympathise a little with the complainant. If he is trying to get some work done and cannot because of the noise, he either does something about it or has to find time later to do the work he planned to do on the train. A noisy passenger disturbs everyone on the coach, and it can be quite nerve wracking to be the first one to complain.

    As a parent though, I can sympathis with the mother. The train could have been very full and moving to another part of the train once in motion might have been difficult, as might finding enough space for her, the baby and the paraphernalia she must have had with her.

    On balance I would vote against the gent, unless the baby was crying when the mother boarded the train, in which case I would vote against her.

  20. Rusty says:

    I am a mother of four (youngest now 8), and a strong advocate of breast-feeding in public and being considerate to parents with young children (helping with buggies on stairs, etc). However, I would never have dreamt of taking my children onto the quiet coach!

    It’s all about being considerate to others – a sleeping baby isn’t disturbing anyone, an awake one most likely will, a crying one, no question.

    Personally, though, I would have felt uncomfortable asking the mother to leave but would have been glad if she did.

  21. JimC says:

    As is to be expected from a situation drawn from real life rather than a philosophy professor’s thought experiment about throwing fat men off bridges to stop runaway trains, this situation has far too many variables in it to admit of a simple right/wrong answer.

    How long was the baby crying before the man took action? Was it napping (explaining the mother’s choice to travel in the quiet coach), and just waking up? Or had it been bawling for several minutes while the mother just read her magazine and told it to shut up?

    Did the man quietly and respectfully point out to her that this was a quiet coach and would she mind moving into another coach until the baby was settled, or did he storm up to her and say “Are you insane? This is the Quiet Coach! Take that screaming brat out of here!”

    Not being a regular train commuter, I’m unfamiliar with the rules, written or unwritten, of the quiet coach. I’ve only recently become aware of such things. They were presumably introduced as a reaction to mobile phones, not crying babies. Is the rule of quiet/silence within them a matter of a local byelaw, or simply a polite request? Surely it is unreasonable to expect complete silence in a public space.

    Lastly, a quick note to anyone drawing comparisons with libraries. As someone who has worked in a public library for eight years, I can inform you that your analogy is entirely inaccurate. The only quiet part of a public library is the staff room.

  22. edwardv says:

    Anything that makes a disturbing noise should go in another car when it does. The man was mostly right and I hope asked politely.

    How long did the man wait? Did the woman leave? If so, how quickly? I could give to woman a little time if she tried to quiet the baby. I would consider it OK if it was a normally quite baby, well feed or sleeping. But if she can’t quite the baby promptly, or if it starts up again, she should move.

  23. Lys says:

    UK people are quite odd. So you have a “quiet coach”!🙂
    Do you have also a “smell free coach”? Or maybe a “positive thinking coach”? :-))))

    I am italian (oh, yes, I know, “berlusconi, bunga bunga” and all that s**t), I’m male and think that babies cries sometimes and this is not that trouble! Usually they stop cying suddenly. If they don’t, parents are the first people who take care about it. So I think the man proofed to be definitely unpolite and uncompassionate. If he really needs a complete calm during travel, he could rent a limo.

    • Tony says:

      Yeah, we have a quiet coach.

      It’s all about the train companies offering their passengers choice, and better service.

      Don’t see what’s so odd about that.

      And as for a “smell free” coach, that doesn’t seem to be necessary. Maybe things are different in Italy.

      Oh, and as for a “positive thinking” coach – I think that in the UK I would be in there on my own.

    • Lys says:

      Trains are noisy, here’s the oddity about having a “quiet coach” on a train. It’s matter of iron wheels on iron rails… and wind too…

      Uh, and also people smells! It’s a matter of sweat and perfume and smoke and food and pets and… you know: humanity smells and babies cry. That’s it.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Maybe it’s different in Italy, but I rarely encounter very smelly trains. There’s the occasional annoying smell of fruit or chewing gum, or someone who hasn’t got the message that perfume is not for bathing in, but on the whole it’s not an issue. Sweat is barely detectable under people’s coats in winter, and people dress lightly to avoid sweat smells in summer. I’ve seen (and smelled) dogs on local trains once or twice, but it’s not a common occurence.

      Intercity trains have proper suspension and hardly make any noise (at least not as is audible inside). And their windows don’t open, so wind isn’t an issue.

      No idea about the conditions on British trains, but clearly, trains aren’t the same everywhere.

    • Rachel says:

      You really think everyone can afford limos?
      I hear that type of crap all the time from people.
      “Oh, just take your car.” The car that I can’t afford?
      I go into the quiet carriage so that I don’t spend hours recovering from a migraine from sensory overload. No, I am not exaggerating.
      The quiet carriages on the trains here make up 1/3 of the train. If you want to screech like a banshee, go into one of the other damn carriages. It’s not hard; just look for the ones *without* “Quiet Carriage” in bright red letters on the side.
      That goes for parents, too. The ability to get pregnant and carry to term doesn’t give you the right to act like an entitled brat with mushy peas for brains. Pay attention to what carriage you’re taking your baby into.

  24. Paul Durrant says:

    I’m male and gave the answer that he was right. But first I did some research.

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/purchasing_tickets/reservations.html

    “Quiet Coach: If you choose a seat in this coach you are asked to not use your mobile phone, use electrical equipment in silent mode, ensure music cannot be heard by other passengers, and generally to keep noise levels to a minimum.”

    The last clause seems to cover crying babies.

  25. Lys says:

    I also have a hint for mr. Wiseman.
    Saying “…men and women had quite different opinions. But is that really the case?” you probably influenced the vote.
    Some men would answer “women is right” to proof they are not primitive, while many women would answer “man is right” to proof they think like a man.

    • katie k says:

      Looking at the voting as it stands (as of this posting) I think we can rule that out. The voting among men and women is essentially the same.

  26. Marius Brill says:

    What you, Richard, were demonstrating and the other man on the train wasn’t, was one of the few things left that still makes Britain great to a child of refugees like me… tolerance, forged through years of terrible and tragic religious wars. And grace – though tweeting and polling about it may be less than gracious. To me, this question is a no brainer. The lady should remain and do what she can to quieten the whining child and not have to also juggle the distraction of intolerant whining men around her too.

    If we really want this country to fracture into enclaves of one kind of belief or another, let’s keep promoting intolerance, ungraciousness, impatience etc. And whilst we’re at it lets try and seperate the opinions of men and women – of course we have different opinions, but do we need goading on an issue as obvious as this? Can the results really furnish an interesting or eductaional or even entertaining idea? Usually scientists have to factor in what effect the actual course of an experiment will have on the participants as well as how that might bias the results.

    Okay probably you know what the right thing to do in a situation like this was and this is a lovely way to rabble rouse and create opinion and drive traffic and promote a tome. I think I would find it pretty disturbing if you really had to ask this question of the crowd as if the mob really had wisdom rather than a mush of opinions that do more to reflect the education system that they have suffered than a democratic moral thesis.

    A long time ago, one of the cultural shifts of the western rennaisance was our move away from a medieval shame culture to a more personal guilt culture, we’re supposed to be grown up enough to carry our own morals with us. Have we really forgotten them?

  27. FlorayG says:

    I don’t know that I would dare myself to ask the woman to leave because of dirty looks from other women in the coach but I would have been very glad that the man did. A screaming baby is hugely annoying to people who are looking for peace and quiet. If the lady had had a dog and it kept barking nobody would have thought twice about asking her to leave. There’s essentially no difference.

    • sc says:

      I’m not sure why you are separating this along male/female lines:

      “of dirty looks from other women in the coach”

      Judging from the poll you would have had pretty much as many dirty looks from men too (not that many). The vast majority of people (of either sex) would have supported you doing something most of them wouldn’t have the nerve to do themselves though🙂

  28. Frankly, if I’d been in the carriage I’d have told the bloke to leave the woman alone and sit down.

  29. drew says:

    Think about it the other way round, if you were in a quiet coach with a baby and it started to cry, would you stay or move to another coach?

  30. Amalia says:

    Talking from experience, in such cases usually the attitude of the mother is much more annoying than the fact that the child is crying. I would bet that the man who asked the mother to leave was right. But this shouldn’t be what is being discussed here. A society than doesn’t accept children as a most natural part of it is simply ill. Lack of education? Perhaps…

    • Berber Anna says:

      Hey, I accept children as a natural part of society. A natural noisy part that doesn’t belong in a quiet coach.

  31. Berber Anna says:

    I hate it when people with children sit in the quiet coaches. Babies will cry or shriek or make other noises, and older children will talk. That’s fine, you can’t expect a child to be quiet for an entire lengthy journey, but the parent CAN be expected to be a reasonable adult and not sit in the quiet coach with their noisy offspring.

    Unfortunately, I’m not confrontational enough to actually ask these people to leave. I usually wander off to a regular coach myself, which is surprisingly often quieter.

    I’m female, by the way (and childless by choice).

    • Rusty says:

      Berber Anna, mother of 4 agrees. We all need to be considerate of others.

    • Rusty says:

      If the children ARE quiet they should be allowed in the quiet coach. I believe such children do exist – just not in my house!!

  32. Redclaire says:

    First of all I agree with Lys, that some people may have been influenced in their vote by what they thought was expected of their gender, to vote the opposite way.
    Also I am female, and have no children, and I think the man was wrong to ask her to leave. People in general seem to be terribly intolerant of children- a lot of people say it is better in other countries, but I haven’t travelled enough to know. Some of the comments here are quite mean spirited.
    I travel by train a lot as I can’t drive, and I am generally a quiet traveller and frequently trying to work on the train, but I think quiet coaches are a silly idea. I only go on them when there are no seats elsewhere-it always seems to be the last coach to fill up- and when I do at least half of the people sitting there seem to leave at regular intervals to take phone calls, suggesting they didn’t really want to sit there either.
    I realise there are limits, I’d be annoyed by a screaming toddler running up and down the train for hours, but I think you’d have a right to say something then whether in a quiet coach or not.

  33. Simon says:

    Despite children being the rare miracle of life and being the centre of attention to their parents, I do not want to share the burden of their existence. If people want a baby then that’s their choice but don’t expect everyone else to care and treat it like it’s the second coming.

    So, if you’re commuting and you have a noisy baby, you’re stuck with a noisy baby. Don’t burden everyone else with it who chose silence and might require the silence for work or sleep.

    One other breakdown with the poll which would be interesting though would be how many people who put NO have kids themselves or are trying for kids. Y’know, members of that “cult”.

    I should disclose I’m someone who never wants kids and is slowly seeing my friends succumb to “our baby is the most amazing thing in life. As a parent you change” syndrome.

    • JohnF says:

      “‘As a parent you change’ syndrome.”

      Yes, they’re like some mind-infecting parasite that changes the hosts’ behaviours and attitudes, even their personalities, completely in favour of servicing the thing at the expense of almost everything else.

      (I think the man in the original story was right to ask the woman with the noise-making thing to leave, if anyone’s still unclear.)

    • eco says:

      “rare miracle of life”

      Approaching 7 billion worldwide population with all the associated problems overpopulation brings I hardly think ‘rare’ is particularly appropriate🙂

  34. MsDerious says:

    I can’t really answer in the yes/no way as it’s not really a yes/no question for me. For a start, I don’t know everything about the situation.

    Perhaps the mother had come into a quiet area to nurse her baby, and was preparing to do this when the baby starting crying. I don’t know how quickly the man (I presume a passenger, not a member of staff?) asked her to leave, perhaps the baby had been screaming it’s lungs out for 15mins, perhaps it had just started a bit of a mewing cry.

    However, I do think that if the baby starting crying loudly and inconsolably, the mother should have spontaneously moved the child (I’m presuming there were seats in other coaches?) rather than putting passengers in the quiet car in an uncomfortable situation.

  35. JJ says:

    It’s a difficult question to answer without being in the situation yourself. If it was me, I would have made a judgement based on the circumstances and acted accordingly.

  36. Tony says:

    Thought experiment:

    A man in the quiet coach happens to be travelling with a howler monkey. It’s sees a friend outside the window, and starts howling to communicate with it.

    The man cannot control the animal’s noise, and the animal is just engaging it its natural communication. It’s stressful for the man, as the monkey as been quiet up until now, and he’s had a hard day, and has another hour of journey to go.

    Should he be asked to leave the quiet coach?

    Should he have sat in the quiet coach to start with?

    Is this situation any different from the crying baby?

    • Berber Anna says:

      Yes — monkeys are cute and fluffy😛
      (Seriously, though, I like the analogy.)

    • Simon says:

      Okay, how about this way:

      A man is travelling from Newcastle to London in the quiet carriage with a locked suitcase which contains a present for his son. He gets to Peterborough and all of a sudden the toy kicks into action. It’s a Casio keyboard and it’s at maximum volume and playing the demo songs on repeat. He can’t open the suitcase because he’s forgotten the code (but his wife has it in London).

      As the keyboard goes into it’s eighth rendition of ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” he is asked to leave. He didn’t intend to make noise. It’s not his fault. It’s a fault of the machine but he’s disrupting an entire carriage – a carriage which is flagged to be quiet so scores of other people can travel in peace.

      If trains start up Compassionate & Understanding carriages then so be it. But the quiet carriage is for quiet.

    • Andy says:

      “If trains start up Compassionate & Understanding carriages then so be it. But the quiet carriage is for quiet.”
      Amen to that.

  37. pilcrow says:

    While it seems that one doesn’t have the right to have a crying baby in a quiet coach (thanks for that quote, Paul Durrant), I also doubt that any random passenger has the right to enforce the rules of National Rail. Thus, I think that the passenger was wrong to react, but would have been right to inform a member of staff about the situation. Furthermore, a member of staff would not only have the authority to address the situation, but would also be in a better position to deal with it, such as being aware of alternative seating for the woman and the baby.

    • baldywilson says:

      It’s not at all unusual for passengers to complain directly to other passengers over noise in a quite carriage. I’ve done it myself when people come in talking on mobile phones. The idea that people have no authority to ask someone to abide by the rules is silly. Of course the passenger can’t *enforce* the rules (he couldn’t remove her from the carriage for example), but that’s not what happened.

      In answer to the question: l have to say ‘yes’ he was right; or, to put it better, it was not an unreasonable thing to ask. It is a quiet carriage. But then, personally I loathe being around children, and if anyone ever opened a positively family-hostile restaurant, they’d have me as a life-long customer.

  38. My youngest is grown up now, but I remember the time when we had small children… If I ere travelling with a baby I’d only use the quiet carriage if this were the case, or if there were no seats elsewhere.

    I would assume that the woman in the scenario was in the quiet carriage because her baby needed the quiet to help it settle. If she had to move it would be very disruptive to her and the baby, and for the people wherever she moved to.

    So she should NOT be asked to move. The man was wrong.

  39. Guineapiggypiggy says:

    What’s struck me about this thought experiment is not whether it was right to ask a mother and her crying baby to vacate the quiet carriage but how many people claim they need the quiet carriage to sleep or work etc…

    Maybe what we should be looking at instead is why a nation of people appear to be so massively overworked and not getting enough sleep that they have to use a train journey to stay on top of either one.

    Work is seen as our defining characteristic. But it seems to be turning us into a nation of stand-alone drones, with a diminishing ability to empathise with anyone not within the dimensions of our own lives.

    Maybe if everyone worked less and slept more, we wouldn’t need quiet carriages and a crying baby wouldn’t elicit such strong but mostly baseless feelings.

    Just saying…

    P.S. Under the circumstances I also agree that the man was right to ask her to leave (purely based on the info given). Of course without the details, it’s impossible to make a moral decision.

    • Merle says:

      It’s not necessarily about work or sleep. Some of us just want peace and quiet. As a regular commuter, I can say I sometimes take my car just because I want to be alone with my thoughts and not deal with the loud and obnoxious elements of human society for at least that brief period.

  40. dmmaxwell says:

    Interesting. I’m certainly agreed that there are way too many variables to admit a simple right/wrong answer here. I’d say there’s not enough information here to make a good call on this. I have a *lot* of questions about this situation, and Richard may simply not have the answer.

    Originally I answered ‘wrong’, since I was unaware of what ‘quiet coach’ meant. (Never been in one here in the US.) I was unaware that there was an expectation of a quiet environment, in which case, the man would have been extremely rude to have asked the mother and child to leave.

    However – since there was a rule already in place that the coach was specifically reserved for quiet travel, I lean towards ‘right’. If you can’t be quiet, for whatever reason, then you shouldn’t be in the quiet coach.

  41. Julia says:

    The real problem lies in the booking system: When booking tickets, you can indicate a preference for a seat in the quiet coach, but you cannot indicate a preference for a seat in one of the other coaches. So someone who was intending to make lots of phone calls may still end up with a seat in the quiet coach.

    If there are enough seats available elsewhere on the train, it is reasonable to expect the woman to sit there instead, even if it is pedantic to ask her to move.

  42. manatheist says:

    In this context, of course the man as right. However ‘this context’ should not exist. As a parent I would not dream of taking a baby into an area designated as a quiet area. Equally I would not park on a double yellow line or smoke in a non-smoking area. The fact that this rule exists in the first place is what concerns me. As has been pointed out in previous posts, if you want peace and quiet ‘do not use public transport’. If you need to work a) stay at the office, b) work from home c) get a job where you are given a realistic amount of time to complete your tasks
    If you are tired a) go to bed earlier b) seek medical advice c)don’t go out on the p**s so often. To use an unfortunately gender specific phrase ‘grow a pair’ and block the noise out.

    • Berber Anna says:

      So what about those of us who can’t block noise out due to neurological conditions? I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I can’t even read and listen to music at the same time. Doesn’t work. If there’s any kind of loud, irregular noise, I physically cannot drown it out and it’s stressfull to the point of being almost painful. Yes, there is medication available that would dampen this, but it’s known for slowing down your thinking process (not very handy for a translator) and has serious and possibly permanent side effects. I’m not subjecting myself to that just to be able to commute to work.
      Needless to say, I love the quiet carriages. People who want to be noisy can have the entire remainder of the train. Just let those who want peace and quiet have ONE carriage to themselves!

    • Anna says:

      Ok… so I will extend your argument to this. If you choose to have a baby then why are you on the “noisy public transport” if you know it’s going to disturb the baby thereby making it cry? Why should others suffer for your choice to have a child and your choice of travelling with it? If you need to travel then a) think first about having a baby in the first place b) leave the baby with someone else c) stay home d) get a job that doesn’t require you to disturb others with your baby’s crying. See your argument can just as easily be used against you.

    • manatheist says:

      Whilst I do have ‘some’ sympathy for people with nuerological disorders (I have one sone with Down’s and another with Aspergers), it is the triumph of the individual over the many that is the issue for me. It seems both of these individuals think that the world revolves around them.

    • Berber Anna says:

      I think that that could be said of the woman, moreso than the man. The woman is the one individual that wanted to bring something noisy into the quiet coach, while the man was merely speaking up for all the passengers that were, for whatever reason, using said coach as it’s intended.
      And it’s not like the woman had no other option — there’s only one quiet coach, and an entire non-quiet train.

      By the way, I don’t always have an issue with the individual trumping the mass. There’s not a lot of wheelchair users on the train, but I’m quite happy that they’re adapting trains to make them more accessible to those people at the moment. Sometimes, the few do need to be considered along with the many.

    • manatheist says:

      Anna:
      This is not an extention of the arguement it is simply a rather poor attempt to rebut it. In this context I have already stated that I think it is wrong to take a baby/child into a designated ‘quiet’ area.
      I do not think the quiet coach should exist.
      I also believe that your use of the word ‘suffer’ is overkill. With certain exceptions this situation is little more than annoying or irritating. Save your use of such a word until you can appreciate the global perspective.
      Think Japan and The Middle East, for example

  43. Mike Forsyth says:

    The woman was possibly stressed and sought refuge from unfriendly stares in the ‘not so quiet’ carriage. I would have thought her focus would be on calming the baby so any interference from an irritable and impatient gentlemen seeking quietness isn’t really going to assist in that end goal. Tolerance and patience go a long way

  44. Eric Knight says:

    I can’t properly answer this question. It really depends on the reason the woman needed go enter the quiet coach to begin with. If I were too take a guess the baby may have been upset due to the noise in the other coach and felt that by entering the quiet coach the baby might calm down.

  45. CanadianChick says:

    He absolutely was right.

    Why someone chooses to travel on a quiet coach is irrelevant – work, sleep or just a preference for quiet. If you or the people you are responsible for cannot be relied upon to be quiet, get on a regular coach.

    I think the idea of a quiet coach is brilliant. I would have loved something like that back in my transit days.

  46. Bob says:

    I haven’t voted because I have been on either sides of those arguments before. There was obviously a reason why she took her child to the quiet coach, more than likely to try and get her baby some peace so that it would settle. On the other hand I have sought solace in coach B many times myself and been annoyed by people chatting loudly or phones going off. Before I had a child of my own babies crying used to really bug me, but I have never once been aggravated by children crying if they are babes in arms since. And thats 13 years now.

  47. Simon Taylor says:

    If I took my dog on the train and it started barking, I’d probably be asked to shut it up or leave the train – even if I was not in the quiet carriage!

    What’s the difference?

    • Kelly says:

      The difference is dogs aren’t allowed into most establishments, whereas most humans are.

    • Simon Taylor says:

      Dogs are allowed on trains.

    • Kelly says:

      Amtrak only allows service animals onboard here in the US. But in the case of local buses and rail transit, you would just have to put up with the noise, unfortunately.

  48. Joss says:

    I think there’s too little information from Richard to be able to vote, and the comments here are clearly showing that perhaps the question should have been I am a parent and I think the man was / I am NOT a parent and I think the man was. That would be more interesting.

    Information changes our perspective in any case. For example, perhaps the man was not a parent, perhaps he had lost a child due to tragic circumstances and babies reminded him of his loss. Would you blame him now for asking her to leave?

  49. Anna says:

    Where would the man go if he wanted to be left alone? I think it’s the same as walking into a cabin that’s designated as “non-smoking” and to promptly proceed to smoke. There’s plenty of room for the woman and only that cabin for the guy.

  50. Jo says:

    My kids are now grown up and I would never have taken them anywhere it said quiet as I respect others right to peace.
    And now I think I have a right to mine and fully agree with the guy, I hate the sound other other peoples babies cying in fact it drives me insane, yes babies cry and in some places I have no choice, but in a special area set aside for quiet I fully expect it to be so, including no babies or drunks or people carrying on a conversation or phones etc. Life is stressful enough.

  51. Juan AR says:

    I think this should be like the cinema. Is an area where a baby may disturb the other people. The parents should be responsibles and understand these situations.

  52. Barry says:

    I was on a budget airline once in the plane that was delayed for 2 hours on the tarmac. One of my children was standing in her seat, and we were furiously trying to keep her amused, and quite needlessly, the air stewardess asked me to get my her to sit down and put her belt on. I refused, and said she would have to take the matter up with my child directly, but if in doing so, if she harmed my child in any way she would reap a whirlwind of litigation upon her employer. She declined to try. Therefore the woman should ask the man to take it up with the baby directly.

    • Berber Anna says:

      So you refused to take direction from the airline personnel? I’m surprised they didn’t remove you from the flight. Had anything happened to your plane (and I know it wasn’t in the air, but as long as it’s on the tarmac there is the risk of collision with a moving airplane), your child would have been at significant risk for injury. That’s why they ask you to keep the seatbelts on at all times while out on the tarmac.

      It’s quite ridiculous to ask someone to speak directly to a child. As long as that child is a minor, you as a parent are legally responsible for it, so you are the one that people should be talking to.

    • baldywilson says:

      You’re not putting over-protective parents in a good light here Barry. Overlooking the obnoxious manner in which you are claiming you handled this, why does your child think it acceptable to stand on its chair in the first place?!

    • Barry says:

      Ana – I am legally responsible for my child, however disobeying airline personnel’s directions is not illegal.

      Adults were getting up to go to the loo, so why did she approach me and not them? My child was merely standing (not kicking/screaming/crying/yelling or misbehaving in any other way – she want even facing backwards). She was not breaking any laws that I am aware of or that I was informed of.

      Baldywilson – I will not respond to someone who is so bereft of both manners and intellect to think that a three year old rationalises its actions, and who will imply that someone who they never met is both an over-protective parent and obnoxious (or has an obnoxious manner).

    • Simon Taylor says:

      Barry,

      The cabin crew are acting on behalf of the captain, who has ultimate authority over the aircraft. What he says on the aircraft is law, and is part of the terms of conveyance when you fly (or board a ship).

      As the captain is ultimately responsible for everyone on the aircraft, you must do what he says, and flagrantly ignoring instructions that are intended for the safety of yourself and other passengers is both stupid and inconsiderate.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Legally responsible does not just imply that you’re responsible if your child does anything illegal. It also implies that if you enter into a contract on their behalf (such as when you book a plane ticket for them), you will ensure that they follow the conditions of that contract (such as obeying airline rules and personnel).

      While it isn’t advisable to use the toilet in an airplane while the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ lights are on, the instructions over the speaker do often tell you that it is allowed. If they didn’t, I’ll assume that the adults using the toilet had asked staff if it was allowed. And besides, those adults were capable of understanding the danger of being out of your seat when the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ lights are on. A three-year-old won’t understand that she’s endangering herself. That’s where you, as a parent, come in.

    • Barry says:

      Simon – terms of conveyance are rules (of the contract), not laws (and there is a big differnece). Furthermore, rules of a contract can only be held up if they are reasonable. you have resorted to the “safety” the last refuge of anyone hoping to elicit compliance with a direction. You have stupidly inferred/assumed that it was an instruction intended for safety.

    • Simon Taylor says:

      It was intended for your childs safety. If anyone was stupid, then your child for standing on a seat and yourself for allowing it to do so when the seat belt signs were on.

    • baldywilson says:

      Barry, you refused to comply with a reasonable request by the cabin crew, and in doing so – by your own admission – threatened to sue the cabin crew if they attempted to comply with your demand that they instruct your child instead of you. This is obnoxious behaviour by any reasonable definition.

      Of course, it would have been enlightening to point out that your child was 3 years old before making assumptions about my manners or intellect; it would not have changed the nature of your attitude towards airline staff, but it would at least have made your retort honest.

    • Simon Taylor says:

      …and ‘law’ or ‘rule’ makes no difference here, you must obey the capain or his crew who act on his behalf. When you board a plane, you accept that you are under his orders.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Simon, you can’t call a three year old stupid for standing in its seat. Most three year olds are simply not capable of understanding the inherent dangers of their actions. Usually, though, their parents are looking out for their safety.
      I sincerely hope that Barry’s reluctance to follow rules does not result (or has not resulted) in harm to his child at some point. He got lucky in the event he described, and it’s entirely possible that this luck will keep up, but it scares me when people allow their children to get themselves into dangerous situations.

    • Barry says:

      Berber Anna, please see my comments to Simon on the difference between law and rules of contract, the latter only being enforceable if reasonable. Except your very unlikley collision scenario, this was not a safety issue, the stewardess did not say it was a safety issue. Fasten seat belt signs were off.

    • Berber Anna says:

      They were off? That’s strange. I’ve never known them to be off unless the plane is directly at the gate, not anywhere else on the airfield infrastructure.

      Well, if it wasn’t a safety issue, I’ll grant you that it wasn’t so much dangerous as just plain inconsiderate. Unless, of course, the child wasn’t wearing shoes that she’d worn outside, thereby getting dirt on the seat?

    • Barry says:

      Simon – no I don’t – you perhaps do.

      Berber Anna – I don’t ignore rules, but I do question them (frequently). There are too many bad examples of blindly following directions through history. I think my children will be safer if they question the purpose of everything (including who is giving the direction), and have the courage to refuse if they believe to follow that direction is wrong.

    • Simon Taylor says:

      SleazyJet T&Cs – “12.1. If in our reasonable opinion you conduct yourself aboard the aircraft so as to endanger the aircraft or any person or property on board, or obstruct the crew in the performance of their duties, or fail to comply with any instruction of the crew or use any threatening, abusive or insulting words towards the crew or behave in any of these ways towards the crew, or behave in a disorderly manner or in a manner to which other Passengers may reasonably object, we may take such measures as we deem necessary to prevent continuation of such conduct including your restraint or removal from the aircraft. You may be prosecuted for offences committed on board the aircraft. You will indemnify us for all costs arising from your improper conduct on board the aircraft.”

      Other airlines will be very similar. You agree to this when you board.

      Anyone standing on a seat is not really acceptable conduct, apart from it may damage safety equipment, or access to that equipment. That could be one of the many reasons why the crew asked you to control your child.

    • Simon Taylor says:

      …if it was RyanAir, they will charge you £1 for standing on a seat…😉

    • Simon Taylor says:

      So Barry, I’m interested to hear who you consider has ultimate authority on board an aircraft then?

    • Barry says:

      Simon – the first words of that are “If in our REASONABLE opinion”. Therefore it has to have a reason. But please note that I’m not saying that it is reasonable to stand on the chair – I was responding to the proposition that I should have been ejected from the airplane for failing to stop a child from doing so – I think that would be unreasonable.

      Berber Anna – honestly, no – no shoes, and no safety issue. If there was a genuine rationale to her request (safety etc), I would have of course complied with force if it was for the greater prerogative.

      Baldywilson – I did not threaten to sue if they instructed her. Only if they harmed her through force did I threaten to sue (i.e. hold/slap/restrain or push etc – things I would never do, unless as above it was to avoid a greater danger).
      I did not “fail to comply with a reasonable request”, I refused to comply because I felt it was unreasonable, put another way, I admitted defeat, and welcomed the stewardess to have a go at getting my child to do it – but set parameters that I would tolerate, and warned of the consequences if they were exceeded..
      I have to say though – again you have used the “obnoxious” term and now “honest” (because I didn’t point out that a child was 3?) – have you no manners? Do you feel that because you are in an anonymous environment that it is ok to be so rude? Are you incapable of discussing a matter on its merits and with logic? How small your world must be. I am no longer prepared to answer any posts from you on the basis of Mark Twain’s axiom: “Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience”.

    • Barry says:

      Simon – I see what you are saying, but the Captain is the person in authority, he does not have ultimate authority. Ultimate authority rests with (usually) the judicial authority of the land. The Captain can make REASONBLE requests but where a passenger disagrees, it is (usually) tested in the courts, who are not bound by the “authority” of the Captain as it is not “ultimate” (of course, this is an over simplification – really, in a democracy, voters have the ultimate authority, as they elect the government who makes the law that the courts enforce).

      A captain can reasonably perform many extreme acts (even theoretically causing the death of a few/one passengers if it will save the lives of many), but if he acts unreasonably, he will find out when he gets ashore that he was not the “ultimate” authority.

    • baldywilson says:

      “Do you feel that because you are in an anonymous environment that it is ok to be so rude?!”

      Barry, you may notice that my nickname has a hyperlink. Click on that hyperlink and it will take you to my blog (armchairdissident). In that blog, click on “About” and it will tell you my name. Go back to the main page, and scroll down. You will see a link to my Flickr page. The nickname ‘baldywilson’ is also the name I use on Twitter (as Google could show you; my Twitter page and my blog both link to the same Flickr page). There is nothing anonymous about my post. So can we just put that argument to one side please.

      Secondly. My use of the term ‘honest’ was not a reference to whether or not you are an honest individual. I merely mentioned that your reply – in your defence of your behaviour on the plane – relied upon information you had failed to disclose beforehand.

      Obviously whether your behaviour was obnoxious or not is entirely a matter of opinion.

      Now, as to the reasonableness of an instruction given to you by an airline stewardess: it is not your position to decide this, and you are woefully misinformed if you believe it is. Generally speaking, however, airline seats are there for safety as much as comfort. Standing on safety equipment designed with seating in mind is generally frowned upon. You are, of course, free to argue this with your airline.

      Similarly, if you believe that you are personally in a position to determine which contract clauses are valid and which are not when you buy an airline ticket, you are equally woefully misinformed. It is not sufficient that the buyer believe a contract clause in “unreasonable” it must – for most consumer contracts – be deemed unfair under the Unfair Consumer Contract Regulations of 1999. Whether a clause is unfair or not is for the courts to decide. (hint: in this situation it isn’t). You are, of course, free to pursue that argument with the Office of Fair Trading, or perhaps take a private claim against the airline. I wish you luck in that endeavour.

    • Barry says:

      baldywilson – you assume too much.

      You assume the incident was not in the UK – the Unfair Consumer Contract Regulations of 1999 does not apply. The plane did not originate, terminate or even fly over the UK.

      You also assumed the child was another age – the child was 3. I did not state otherwise.

      I apologise for averring that you were anonymous, but I’m shocked to see your blog. To me a dissident is a person who challenges an established doctrines/norms, certainly not someone who will blindly follow the orders of people in airline uniforms as if they were law, tut-tuting at others who do, and considers a seat “safety equipment designed with seating in mind “. You sir, are secretly a conformist.

    • Barry says:

      You assume the incident was in the UK – it was not, therefore – the Unfair Consumer Contract Regulations of 1999 does not apply. The plane did not originate, terminate or even fly over the UK.
      You also assumed the child was another age (and accuse me of dishonesty for your error)– the child was 3. I did not state otherwise.
      I apologise for averring that you were anonymous, but I’m shocked to see your blog. To me a dissident is a person who challenges established doctrines/norms, certainly not someone who will blindly follow the orders of people in airline uniforms as if they were law, tut-tuting at others who do question them, and not someone who considers a seat “safety equipment designed with seating in mind “. You sir, are secretly a conformist.

    • baldywilson says:

      My assumption that your incident occurred in the UK was based on that fact that this is a UK-based blog, albeit not UK-centric. You are quite right, I assumed too much in that case.

      On the assumption of the age of the child, my issue was not that you claimed the age of the child as anything specific, but that you did not do so, and only stated that age as 3 as a response. I did not state that you were dishonest. I said, quite clearly, that it would have made your retort more honest had you mentioned the name of the child earlier, before challenging my intellect and manner because you inferred “that a three year old rationalises its actions”

      As to the nature of my blog, I always welcome comments and criticisms. And, in this instance, it may well be that I am more of a conformist that you perhaps feel people should be. That’s a fair comment – not one I agree with, but fair nevertheless. But you should note that the blog title is “Armchair Dissident” not “Dissident|😉 It’s a nod to the term “Armchair General”, or “Armchair Referee”, as in “I’m not a serious Dissident, but I play one from my Armchair”.

  53. safc4ever says:

    I once had a reservation in the ‘Quiet Coach’ and swore never to go in there again because I was intimidated by 3 women travelling together, who had 8 or 9 under-11s between them making a lot of noise and running up and down the carriage. All the other passengers appeared to be intimidated, as did all the staff, as no-one had the courage to stand up to the three women. The next carriage, which I walked through to get to the refreshment kiosk, was much quieter, but my ticket conditions demanded I remain in the reserved seat in the noisier ‘Quiet’ coach. Never again!

    That said, the train operator concerned (it is the same route as made by Richard) makes an announcement on leaving each station which includes instructions that mobile phones must be off or switched to silent, and that to answer or make a call you must move out of the main compartment to the ‘vestibule’ area at the end of the carriage. So even if the phone is silent, the conversation you may need to take/make is frowned-upon.

    A crying baby is obviously much noisier than someone having a phone conversation, and must be quietened or removed from the carriage as soon as possible. The man should not have had to intervene, but was well within his rights to demand quiet in that carriage. I voted that he was correct.

    At my Church, we have a side-chapel with a door that closes which has been designated the ‘Children’s Chapel’. – As the default in a Church is quiet, it is the opposite of a ‘Quiet Coach’, but still serves the purpose of separating a noisy area from a quiet area. It is next to the sanctuary, with a large window giving an excellent view of the Mass and a speaker allowing the parents to hear the Mass clearly. Despite this, some people fail to use it for their babies and end up having to leave the Church temporarily to quieten them. They do this without being asked, as they are all responsible parents. This suggests that if the woman in the example above did not realise she was disturbing the rest of the carriage then something had gone wrong and she needed to be prompted. In the event that the staff are all elsewhere, it is up to an aggrieved passenger. I do hope he was polite in this case.

  54. Merle says:

    I would have felt annoyed had I been in this man’s situation and I feel quite confident that most of the other occupants of the carriage felt the same way but didn’t have the courage to speak up. No indication is given of the manner the man used to ask the woman to move, although my own experience of people doing inconsiderate and annoying things in public is that it is difficult to approach them calmly and not provoke a confrontation. I think it is right to speak up, but appropriate to do so sensitively. How one does this, I don’t know.

    One thing that has disturbed me about the comments is the common assumption that the sensitive mother was facing an unfriendly group of curmudgeonly older men. How do we know this was the case AT ALL? It simply isn’t specified. I have seen plenty of horribly behaved mothers and you could sharpen knives on them they are so hard, and plenty of sensitive and caring older men. So even if that was the demographic split, it doesn’t actually mean anything without further information.

    It’s right to treat parents with babies sensitively and with compassion – it’s difficult to deal with them in public and we don’t get taught how to do it – but it’s also right for the parents to respect their fellow human beings and not believe they are somehow privileged. In days not too long ago babies were absolutely persona non grata in many places. They are accepted now because we have recognised it is discriminatory to the parents to exclude them, but that doesn’t mean it is a free pass and anything goes.ies werI think the passenger did the right thing, I just hope he did it in the right way.

  55. JJ says:

    The woman should be allowed to travel in the quiet carriage providing the baby remains quiet. If the baby starts crying, the woman should move to another carriage. It is, after all, a quiet carriage. If a baby starts to cry, it ceases to be a quiet carriage which is unfair to the other paying passengers. Yes, it may be inconvenient or a hassle for the woman to move, but such is life.

  56. Tessa K says:

    It’s not easy being a parent. Small children are little animals who cannot be predicted or controlled. But a quiet carriage is a quiet carriage. She shouldn’t have been in there. Given that she was, she should have left or done what any sensible parent would and dose it up with gin.

    Screaming babies make me want to kill someone. Why do some people think that spawning gives them immunity from the social niceties the rest of us have to follow? And why do parents try and make the rest of us feel like we’re evil if we point this out?

    And yes, I am female. No, I don’t want to hold your baby. Its tiny hands are creepy and it smells like milky sick.

    • funda62 says:

      Wow. My children go with me everywhere (5 and 10 years) as I homeschool them and are never uncontrollable and happen to be very predictable. If they are tired or hungry they fuss just like grown up humans do. They are not animals but they can be trained.🙂

    • Kelly T says:

      Wow. What awful bitterness, and what a dreadful chip on your shoulder about mothers. If screaming babies make me want to kill someone, perhaps you have other issues? Don’t blame the babies.

  57. Todio says:

    Back in the day you could smoke on a train. Even then there were “No Smoking” cars (and “No Smoking” sections in restaurants) Had someone entered with a cigarette they would have been asked to leave, no exceptions. I don’t see how this is any different, intellectually. Adding a baby just pulls on the emotional heartstrings but should have no bearing on the enforcement of the rules. Rules exist for the comfort of everyone who follows them.

    On a side note, my Church had what we called a “Crying Room” where mothers could take their children if they fussed. It was sound-proofed, had a good view and had the services piped in over speakers. They had baby supplies handy (and I think even a pitcher of warm milk was available) and a Youth Minister.

  58. Bletherskite says:

    I’m female and I voted that he was right to ask her to leave. However as many other posters have pointed out there are so many sides to this.

    If the baby had been crying for ages and there were plenty of seats available then he was probably right but if he jumped on her as soon as the baby gurgled then he was probably being a bit of an arse.

    I’m not a ‘children should be seen and not heard’ kind of person but I do think that if you are in a public situation with children that are inconsolable or behaving very badly that they should be taken out of that situation to allow them to calm down. On a train that is a bit difficult, as wherever you go you may annoy someone, but as the quiet coach is specifically labelled that then that’s what it should be.
    Was i

  59. rhelune says:

    Noise is noise, no matter the source.

    • Kelly says:

      Indeed, and should you catch a case of the sniffles during the train ride and start sneezing uncontrollably (and loudly), it behooves you to leave the rest of us alone. Thank you.

  60. funda62 says:

    I have two children and I absolutely hate it when other parents flaunt the rules and say, “Kids!” as if that explains everything. I expect my children to behave appropriately or I remove them from the situation whenever possible. That means NOT taking them onto a quiet coach if they were crying infants. If however, there were no other seats on the train, the baby had only been crying a minute and the woman was just getting her boob/bottle out, then the man was wrong.

  61. Lizzie says:

    A side point- I travel by train with my baby quite frequently and always reserve seats in advance. More often than not, we are automatically assigned seats in the quiet coach (even when booking by phone and asking specifically not to be there). It’s a total pain and means we effectively lose our booked seats (as I know my baby is unlikely to be quiet throughout). I think the booking system assigns seats in the quiet carriage first for some reason.

    Anyway, to the question- depends how you read it. I think he was perfectly justified in asking her to leave- so in that sense right- but under no obligation to do so, so it wouldn’t have been wrong to ignore them or try to help.

    Some of the language in these comments is really grim, by the way. who knew there was so much hatred for parents an children bubbling under the surface?

  62. Adam says:

    Do we have quiet coaches in the US???

    Anyway, reading one train website, it prohibits electronic noise. If they want to keep out kids, make an adult area.

    Comments here are dreadful.

    It’s one think if a parent just lets a kid go nuts. It’s another if a kid yelps once and someone asks they leave the “quiet coach”.

    Go travel by limo if you need your precious “quiet time”.

    • Berber Anna says:

      I don’t earn enough to travel by limo, and I don’t drive as I’m not fully sure it would be safe (being as easily distracted as I am). I prefer to get to work in a somewhat calm state of mind, rather than stressed out of my wits at some kind of stupid noise (and that doesn’t just go for noisy kids, either — this morning, I almost started crying because some inconsiderate person kept clicking their ballpoint pen somewhere close to me).

    • Berber Anna says:

      Also, I’m not entirely sure if your opening question is directly related to the blog post, but professor Wiseman is based in the UK rather than the US.

  63. Julia says:

    Look what I just came across: “Crying baby gets mum booted off bus”
    http://www.thelocal.de/society/20110316-33767.html

    • FrankN.Stein says:

      Being german, tThat story came to my mind immedeatly.
      Being thrown off a bus because of the baby is a scandal, of course. Had she been thrown out of the train, it would be the same.
      Being asked to move from a designated silent train waggon into an other waggon seems absolutly reasonable to me, though.

  64. Jerome says:

    He was right. It was the ***Quiet Area***.

  65. Gus Snarp says:

    As noted above, a black and white answer from the information given is insufficient. Technically he’s in the right, but how long did he wait before asking her to leave? How did he ask? I can imagine a mother taking her infant into the quiet car in hopes he or she would fall asleep, or perhaps to nurse or feed him or her, and it would be nice to give her a few minutes before asking her to leave. I would also hope she would be reasonable and decide relatively quickly whether it was working or not and leave if the baby was continuing to cry. A gentle reminder that it was the quiet car before straight up asking her to leave might be better as well. But I voted that he was right.

    • Sandy says:

      I was starting to type exactly what Gus Snarp said here. There is nothing wrong with a sleeping baby being in the quiet car, but the mom also should leave it as soon as she realizes the baby is not going to be quiet. And yes, a gentle reminder would be a nicer way to “ask” her to leave.

      I am a mom of twins, and I voted that he was right.

  66. Zuleika says:

    There are rules and there are rule enforcers. In asking her to leave the man was taking on a role of authority that did not belong to him. He was not in any legal position to take on the role of rule enforcer. There is a reason there aren’t usually guards standing in train carriages strictly enforcing rules – the strict enforcement of such rules is rarely necessary, relatively unimportant, and would be a legal minefield for the train companies. The man was being petty, unsympathetic, authoritarian and overstepping the boundaries of his legal rights.

    • Berber Anna says:

      He wasn’t enforcing the rules. Enforcing would have implied that he tried to physically remove her, or fine her, or impose some other kind of penalty on her. He was merely asking her to comply with the rules.
      If I talk loudly in a library, people will probably shush me or ask me not to do that. They aren’t librarians, but there isn’t anything illegal about asking someone to comply with the rules of the establishment they are in.

  67. vvwolfe@gmail.com says:

    I hate the comments that say people hate babies and parents. I do not believe this at all people do not like those who are inconsiderate to others, and in this age of entitlement so many people are horribly inconsiderate of others.

    I don’t agree that there isn’t enough information here, the lady and her child were disturbing a whole car of people asking her to leave is not wrong. Yes there are other factors was he rude about it and length of crying time etc. But rules are rules.

    Its irritating that parents seem to think they need not follow them or that they are entitled to special treatment because they have a child. We who do not have children have to deal with it a regular basis. Pay to go to a nice restaurant only to have it ruined by some inconsolable infant or ill behaved child. Even at work we have to deal with the unbelievable sense of entitlement parents think they are entitled to holiday/vacation first, or if someone can leave early they should get to because they have children.

    I love children my sister has 4 my brother has 2, but having children isnt a free pass to be inconsiderate of others. If it has a rule to be quite you should follow. The blame is on the mother as far as im concerned it is the gentleman who is wrongly being deemed a cad when she should not have had to been asked to leave but should have done of her own accord.

    Its not about people should be tolerant though they should but they should also be considerate.

  68. Mark says:

    I’m not sure what the dilemma is here – a Quiet Coach should be just that, so if you choose to sit there, you should reasonably have an expectation that it will, indeed be quiet.

    He should arguably have handled the situation more tactfully, but that he was right to raise the issue seems very clear cut to me.

  69. SimonP says:

    If the mother and crying baby were alone in the coach that would be fine; so we can see that the issue is not the noise but the irration caused to the other passengers. The rules give the other passengers the right to complain if they are irratated by anything noise-related. Snoring passengers, heavy-typing on laptops, squeaky springs in the seats etc. The fact it was a baby making the noise is completely irrelevent. The male/female aspect may be relevent as perhaps one sex is less annoyed by a crying baby, and in answering the question people will imagine themselves in the situation.

  70. Jacqueline says:

    Well said Richard who posted earlier, ear plugs work wonders. I suppose it depends on individual tolerance, some find the sound of a baby utterly unbearable, and lets face it they can churn out those decibels, but was she given time to settle the baby, or was she rudely scowled at and asked to leave immediately? Chances are if she couldn’t settle the baby, she would have left apologetically anyway. The whole situation is a shame. Personally I would have sympathised with her situation, and at least given her time if no one else did.

  71. Steve says:

    I remember when quite coaches were first introduced. You couldn’t specifically request it when booking so it was really hit and miss. At the same time, you might be booked into the quite coach without wanting it.

    Now you’re able to specify a quiet coach but you can’t specify non-quite. I wonder then, if you don’t ask for a quiet coach is there a chance you’ll be put in one anyway? (if the rest if full for example)

    If the mother booked a seat and was put in the quiet coach without specifying it maybe that changes things.

  72. Peter says:

    Babies cry – this is completely natural and an essential part of life. Quiet carriages – completely artificial and part of the ‘me, me, me’ overly pampered, sanitised society. Ultimately, the train co. is wrong in offering such a compartementalised bubble of artificiality. The man is wrong, as is everyone on this site who is disparaging against babies, in believing that such an artifical environment precludes the woman’s need for a seat, not knowing the reason she chose the quiet carriage.

  73. Elizabeth geary says:

    How wonderful – a QUIET coach!!!! What a lovely idea.
    And how odd, those of you who think the provision of a quiet space in a cacophonous world is artificial or discriminatory. Quiet is something our minds need in order to recover from the onslaught of artificial noise created by our insane culture – and some of us need it more than others – that train companies have decided to provide such a haven is more an indication that people realise the need, then a pandering to a “me, me, me overly pampered, sanitised society” as claimed by ‘Peter’ and others. The howling wilderness of noise we create around us is as artificial as any designated quiet space.

    I’d certainly have asked the mother to move – and I am also a parent, and grandparent.

  74. […] Was he right or wrong? The other day I was on the train to the Newcastle Science Festival.  I was in the Quiet Coach (a coach which is […] […]

  75. […] Was he right or wrong? The other day I was on the train to the Newcastle Science Festival.  I was in the Quiet Coach (a coach which is […] […]

  76. Rex says:

    I voted that the man was right.

    I’d like to know if the woman was able to get a seat in a non-quiet coach. Because if she had a choice, why on earth would she try to sit in the quiet coach where the baby would be sure to disturb other people?

  77. MarKill says:

    Honestly I need more info,

    How old is the baby, if it’s a new born or an older baby can make a difference. Was the baby asleep when she got in train or did the baby just wake up. Was the mother trying to get it to be quiet. Like trying to find a bottle of milk or something. How long was the baby crying. was the train moving already as young babies tend to fall asleep in moving objects. How busy was it in the train so she could go somewhere else to sit? How long was the train ride?

    and so on…

    so I can’t answer

  78. susqueda says:

    In my opinion the problem here is not what “quiet coach” means but if it would be at all right to exist if it meant “not children allowed because they are noisy”. Discrimination of children just because they will behave as they are supposed to do is plain wrong (assuming, of course, that their parents will behave properly). I’m surpsided to see that many don’t seem to realise how dangerous this is. Be very careful.

  79. sijord says:

    Well… I’m a male and I’ve voted that the man was wrong.
    If the Quiet Coach is a coach “supposed to be for those wanting to travel without being disturbed by annoying mobile phones, etc.”… I’m sure that this coach is the right one for the woman (she wants to travel without being disturbed in order to keep her baby calm).
    I think that this right/wrong thing depends on who is the main character of the story for you: the man/woman and his/her right to travel without being disturbed.

  80. mittfh says:

    Depends how long it takes her to placate the baby.

    Which raises another point: regardless of where in the train she sat, if the baby was crying for a feed, how many people would object if she started breast feeding?

    • Berber Anna says:

      I wouldn’t. Sight is easier to block out than sound.

    • MarKill says:

      If a baby is hungry then you must feed it. If people get annoyed by it then look the other way. I have a kid of my own which I breastfed till he was 6 months and I know how it can feel for a mom if your baby is hungry and you have no place to be alone for a few minutes.

  81. Paul Berry says:

    I can’t help but bring more things to bear on this scenario then are actually given in the text. That’s because I don’t want to come across as unreasonable but I also ride a train every weekday that has a quiet coach (though I don’t always use it).

    When you board a train with a quiet coach the train manager/guard does inform everyone over the intercom to “refrain from using mobile phones, personal stereos, or making any excessive noise”, so comments that babies are not something that is banned by name are immaterial. I realise full well that babies and even to a certain extent young children cannot help making “a noise”. It’s just how they are. But trains that have quiet coaches are usually at least 5 carriages long so it’s hard to imagine that the mother wasn’t able to find a seat elsewhere where she needn’t worry about her infant causing a fuss.

    It’s arguable the mother is showing undue respect for passengers by taking up a seat in a carriage where you’re specifically asked to be quiet, but at the same time passengers who frequent such coaches do so because they seek respite from undue noise.

    The other angle is that the noise caused by an innocent child is quite different (in intent) to that of a surly teenager playing music on their phone, for example.

  82. Kevin says:

    I think he was totally right. The key word is “quiet”. If I move to an area that is supposed to be reserved for work or reflection, others should show the corresponding respect. (want to discuss people with HUGE prams on public transportation????) Instead of paying less, people who insist on travelling with babies should pay a premium to compensate the other passengers.

  83. Wolf Martinus says:

    I want a new poll. Would the mother have been justified in pulling out a machete, slice up the wanker and throw the pieces out the window?

    I’d vote yes.

  84. Martha says:

    Now here’s one for you. My boss has recently taken to putting the radio on in our small office. I’m the only one who objects, but then, I’m the only one who’s engaged in creative copywriting all day long. Everyone in the office knows what I think but apparently I’m just being difficult. Am I right to turn it off in such a way that it can never be turned back on?

  85. David Mathew says:

    I’m a couple of days late to reply to this because I wanted to ask the opinion of a few friends and colleagues of mine who have kids (I don’t). The unanimous response from these friends and colleagues – male and female – was that they wouldn’t have taken a child into the quiet carriage in the first place, so the situation would never have arisen.

  86. Paula Kirby says:

    I am positively allergic to the sound of babies screaming, so I can relate 100% to the man’s frustration. I would have hated it too. But I still think he was wrong to ask her to leave the quiet coach. I think the fault lies with the train company, which should specify that the quiet coach may not be used by children under the age of, say, 7. As it was, the woman was within the rules and had every right to be there. Complain to the train company, not her.

    What’s more, most trains are absolutely choc-a-bloc these days, and it’s almost impossible to find a seat. You can’t ask a mother with a young baby to risk having to stand all the way. Nor is it fair to ask her to move elsewhere – not unless you’re also prepared to help her move the pushchair, changing bag, bottles, food, towels, nappies and god knows what else she must have had with her.

    I agree it can be very annoying to have to share the planet with other people, but since we do, is there any harm in being just a LITTLE bit considerate towards them?

    • greg says:

      Lets assume she was able to move and if she was able to get on the train herself she can move herself (offering to move would be polite and for all we know he did)

      Surely the woman did not have consideration for the other passengers simply by entering into the quiet carriage with a baby which is basically a big noise maker.

      All the man did was point out the rules she was infringing and asked her to leave. it’s hardly being inconsiderate. she was the incosiderate one.
      Read any quiet coach rules, it will show she was in violation as although children are not specifically mentioned loud noise always is and babies are loud noise machines. why should other passengers suffer however long waiting for her to quiet her baby down when she shouldnt be there in the first place.

      people keep saying asking her to leave is a selfish act, why? If you have a carriage full of people wanting to sleep or work etc simply standing up to someone who has infringed on the established norm and in a peculiar situation with a baby, it is hard to confront people, most people tend to avoid it. simply standing up to her would have benefited a lot of people.

  87. Anfauglir says:

    (Apologies if this gets unreadable – I can only see half the screen when posting!)

    My view is that we should perhaps consider WHY we have “quiet zones” at all – because some people want to travel in peace – and because there is (generally) so little consideration for others that there has to be a defined space for them to be able to do so. If everyone who boarded a train turned down their music, talked quietly, and so on, then there would be no need for a special quiet area. But they don’t. There are too many people who think “my right to make noise is MORE important that someone else’s right to sit in quiet.

    You may argue that the “quiet sitters” are imposing THEIR desires on those people who legitimately want to be loud. But – and its the crucial point – they are only doing so in a quarter of the possible space: three coaches in four have no restriction on noise, so you can sit there and be noisy (or quiet) if you want.

    That’s the point. There is a designated area for one group, a designated area for another. And in the same way as I would NOT ask someone to be quiet in the “noisy” carriages, I expect people to be quiet in the quiet carriages.

    Sadly, they don’t: and I now never travel in the “quiet” carriages, despite my preference for travelling in quiet. Why? Because far too many people simply ignore it and have their music on, or make loud calls – and I find it easier to bear noise in a “noisy” carriage than in the “quiet” zone. Noise level is the same, but without the extra throbbing veins that come from the inconsideration of others.

  88. Kevin says:

    I find much of this debate fascinating – especially all the entries that he should have asked the porter or some other staff member to assist. Are we that cocooned as a society that we can no longer point out to people that they are bothering others? I agree that is a “safer” course of action, as there is a buffer.. however it seems unnecessary. Why can’t we communicate directly to another person?

  89. thewomaniswrong says:

    she could have tell about her baby while taking her ticket. dot. the end.

  90. Aki says:

    People who can’t be quiet (for example children) shouldn’t be in quiet sections of the train. They should have gotten another seat to begin with.

  91. Jon d says:

    I expect richard’s looking at the effect of stating an expectation (that men and women vote differently) on web poll results.

    Far worse than crying babies is the aroma of someone else’s fish and chips, I’m fully behind any moves to set up smell free carriages.

  92. Paul Murray says:

    Aesop’s fable of the dog in the manger comes to mind.

  93. BigSoph says:

    Self righteous parents are complete a$$holes

    I had a bus ride one time, it was 3.5 hours to the next stop and 12 hours total travel time and the child ran up and down the aisle, screaming some children’s song for most of that (Alice the Camel has two humps, etc.)

    When we finally arrived several people voiced upset and she replied “well! It’s obvious you’re not parents”

    One woman said “I am. You are just a bad one”

    She harumphed and looked around for support but the general consensus was that we were all going to kill her and her precious darling

    Another case, a woman changed her child’s diaper three times and, when she left the bus at the next stop, she left them on the seat

    Parents and their children = pure solipsistic sociopathic evil!

  94. loup says:

    I would ask that women to take that brat elsewhere.
    I hate when people disturb the peace, most are inconsiderate douches.
    The man is right to tell that whore off. I’m a female BTW.

  95. jeremy says:

    I feel as if you are grown you know how to be quite and she should have known that her baby would cry right? all babies cry so you know that you should not even attempt to be in a place where you have to be quite.that makes since to me thats like going to a non smoking restraunt and smoking hello non smoking.duh so i dont feel bad cas she didnt think

  96. Outside playground equipment…

    Was he right or wrong? « Richard Wiseman's Blog…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s