A Little Less Conversation

I'm not sure if anyone knows this about me but I do enjoy a nice bout of complaining. I try to save it for times I think are worthwhile but who am I to judge?

On the train that carries me each day to and from work, the conductors are required to call out the few stops there are over the public address system and make safety announcements. Their job has to be a monotonous one as they sit alone at the end of one of the cars facing the passengers and go through the same routine day in, day out.

For about a year, my route has had the same conductor. Rather than just call out the stops, he harnesses the power of the p.a. system and prattles on about the weather, calls out to people as they get on and leave and lets young children talk on it (cute once, not so cute every ride). When there's a service delay, he tells everyone to email the company and provides the address so people can complain. Sometimes he makes jokes but more often just funny noises.

He ends each 'set' with a very bad Elvis homage - Thank ya, thank ya very much. There's nothing like seeing a whole trainload of people rolling their eyes in unison to make you feel like you're really a part of something.

A few weeks ago, before I went to work, there was an announcement on the news that a murder investigation was underway on a pedestrian walkway near one of the stations we usually stop at. A young man had been knifed to death. The first morning train was cancelled as there was a concern that it might disrupt the crime scene. The train I take was allowed through but not to stop.

Sensing an opportunity to expand his repertoire and being a man who understands emergency preparedness, the conductor began playing the Pink Panther theme music over the p.a. as we approached the murder scene. He snickered over the airwaves that we should all be on the look out for Inspector Clouseau and then made a few more jokes. At the end of the ride he played the music again and thanked us for riding the 'Disoriented Express' and gave us his best Elvis again. People were even less amused than usual.

When I got to work, I emailed the train company (at least I didn't have to look the address up) and let them know that I didn't find it funny that while someone's father, son, or brother lay dead beside the tracks, everyone was subjected to this man's bad jokes about the situation. I suggested, because I'm also helpful, that someone let him know about open mic night at the comedy clubs. At least the audience there is expecting to be subjected to comedy. I also asked them to let him know that nobody enjoys his terrible Elvis impression either.

Two days later, there was noticeably less patter over the airwaves and when we arrived at the point where he'd usually hit us with Elvis, he very clearly enunciated Thank you very much and have a nice day. He's still doing it.

I was satisfied with this result until someone who sits in his car told a friend of mine that he was really pissed at whoever had complained about him. The source of his anger though was at the fact that this 'person' who'd complained had the nerve to say that he did a bad Elvis impression when obviously he does a very good one.

I shake my head but not my hips. Not for this anyway.


Coaster Punchman said...

I would keep a very low profile if I were you. Just until things settle down and he starts up on the bad jokes again.

Jenny Jenny Flannery said...


Jake's Mom said...

When I need a smile I tune into you. You remind me of how Jake wrote, I love the twisted & amusing view of life, it's real!!
Keep it up!

Tenacious S said...

Dale, you killjoy, we love you. I'm sure just as many people are thanking you. We were sujected to the security line comedian at SFO. While he was indeed very funny, I felt sorry for his coworkers who had to listen to his patter over and over again.

Zed said...

Oh, you can try to fool yourself into thinking that he doesn't know it was you who complained to the train company, but Dale, I'd watch my back around this guy if I were you.

Maybe you should encourage him to do his Elvis impression, just to throw him off the scent.

chelene said...

Perhaps his suspicious mind will suspect you are the devil in disguise but at least now you can ride the train with a little less conversation.

Writeprocrastinator said...

Don't be cruel, Dale (Chelene already took "Devil In Disguise"). Can't you see that your local rail company has to hire on a certain quota of social-impaired and dysfunctional Americans?

It's quid pro quo for Canada unleashing Avril Lavigne on us.

Old Lady said...

Now see, that was a man who liked his job until...

Chancelucky said...

You know when you said that someone had been knifed to death, I thought for sure that it was the train emcee who'd been done in by annoyed commuters.
Great anecdote Dale and thanks for making your country a bit safer from bad Elvis impersonators, even if it didn't work.

Dale said...

He sits in the next car over from me so I'm not sure if I'm a suspect or not CP.

I'm glad you approve Ms. Alden.

Happy to help Jake's Mom. If someone laughs, smirks or just says damn! my work here is done.

People have noticed Tenacious S and I've heard people remarking that it's a lot quieter on the ride. Now if I could figure out a way to jam everyone's cellphones for those 40 minutes.

I saw him a few days ago tugging on the handle of the locked newspaper box before I got on the other day and I said to him 'checking for loose change?' to which he smiled and said 'have to do something to supplement my income!' and he smiled. I'm safe for now Zed.

I'm not sure my disguise is foolproof Chelene. I spike my hair to hide the little horns.

Why'd you have to go and make things so complicated WP?

I felt a little bad Old Lady but the jokes about the poor guy were a step over the line for me.

He could be next Chancelucky, not that I'm a violent man. Unless you can kill by email.

Joe said...

I say you get on his car, make eye contact with him so that he definitely sees you, and then mouth the words "yeah, it was me" and smile.

That could be fun.

Anonymous said...

Watch out for the evil eye, if you get that from him you're soooo busted.

Dale said...

Excellent idea Bubs, I may just give it a go.

If looks could kill Bluez, I'd have been dead years ago!

I also appreciate nobody pointing out that I regularly make fun of people in wheelchairs, people who don't crate train their babies and all the tards and midgets of the world.

BeckEye said...

You're the only squeaky wheel on that train.

Most of the good Elvis puns have been taken, so I'll just try to make you feel like less of a jerk for killing that train conductor's spirit by calling you a hunka hunka burnin' love. I guess I could've just said, "It's alright," but whatever.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

"He sits in the next car over from me"

What? You have designated train cars? Are you in business class or the cattle car or what? Maybe in the first class cars, they have a Jerry Lewis imitator.

Jill said...

Getting people mad, but you end up always knowing it!!
And I didn't know that a part of you had moral!!

Dale said...

I'll play Squeaky if you play Gerald Beckeye.

Several cars but only one conductor Barbara. They sit in the car that has a ramp for wheelchair accessibility.

I've got morals, morale, moles, all kinds of stuff Jill.

Anonymous said...

What if you knew he was a poor sad lonely man whose greatest happiness in life comes from his daily Elvis homage to his captive audience? .... Nope, wouldn't have made one bit of difference would it, Mr Joy Killer?

Dread Pirate Jessica said...

I've been on that train! Just the once. And it wasn't cute.

Valerie said...


why is it that the worst impersonators think they are the best (like bad singers on AI)?

Cup said...

Thankyou, thankyouverymuch, PotD.

Mob said...

I can't understand why any job that involves a microphone eventually becomes some fool's version of Star Search.

I have sat through numerous flights with pilots under the mistaken impression that they were auditioning for something that made me want to try the exit doors just to shut them up for a minute.

Andi said...

You could be the next knifing victim. Watch your back!

X. Dell said...

I agree that there's nothing funny about murder (although there's loads of hilarity, sometimes, in police and their investigation methods). Even if there were something funny, the conductor really didn't have a sense of when to turn it on, and when to turn it off.

I'm thinking that you probably weren't the only one who complained about his sardonic wit. While it might have rankled your fellow passenger, I'm hoping that perhaps he'll eventually settle into a comfortable niche where he can be more himself, and where you can actually enjoy the ride to and from.

Johnny Yen said...

You meanie.

Seriously, good for you for calling him on this. What an ass.

When I was just out of college twenty some years ago, and juggling a weekday job as a law clerk and a weekend job as a waiter (as opposed to now, where I juggle a weekday job as a teacher and a second job as a waiter), I'd take the el (the elevated train-- our above-ground version of a subway here in Chicago) home on the weekend nights. There was a conductor who we were always delighted by-- he'd say things like "Cruising at an altitude of 30 feet above Chicago..." I and the other passengers, who were inevitably coming off of work and exhausted, would enjoy it. He was, of course, not saying patently obnoxious things, like the one on your train.

Some Guy said...

If you decide to come clean to this guy, remember to bring a fried peanut butter & banana sandwich as a peace offering. It may soften the blow a bit.

Pezda's Ghost said...

Some people (quite a few actually) are born without the tact and decency gene. He really ought to have known better, I mean overuse of a bad Elvis impression will get you complaint letters every time.

At least you didn't step on his blue suede shoes!

deadspot said...

Crushing the profoundly unfunny is an invaluable public service.

Jacy said...

This is quite hilarious. Good for you for complaining.

Anonymous said...

I was on the Go Train the other day after my visit with Jacy and Espanya and noticed that next-stop-announcement-guy giving stand-up treatment to names like A-jaaaaaax. Pick-er-ingggggggg.
Please, I though to myself, just stop, already.
Glad you sorted them out.

Katie Schwartz said...

potd. how could you kvetch about him??!? he's so fabulous. wrong on every single level. that pink panther bit was really too funny. shameful, but funny as all fuck off.

awww. I feel for him, luuuuv.

Katie Schwartz said...

wait. because we disagree, are you going to break up with me?

Dale said...

Wouldn't have bothered me PinkFluffy, it's all about me, all the time!

It's never cute Mistress but I was being kind and gentle for a moment.

I have no idea what motivates people Valerie, I'm just glad you're supporting me at this trying time.

Haha, you're very welcome Beth. I knew you'd have my back and a peanut butter and banana sandwich if I needed it.

What a brilliant way to put it Mob. And your exit strategy has merit too!

I know Andi but it's my kind of courage that gives me strength, ya know?

It's all fun and games until I start complaining X. Dell. While I don't mind if someone makes a bad joke, I'd prefer that it not be broadcast all over the place.

Thank you el Johnny. I don't mind a little fun like that either, just not the same terrible stuff over and over and then the tasteless jokes.

I'll make sure the straitjacket is rhinestoned and he'll be fine Chris.

I hear he's retiring soon Pezda and no doubt, my complaint will enter his story telling queue.

I take my job seriously Deadspot.

Thank you Jacy. Cha cha cha.

Should I start riding all the lines now Gifted Typist. I wonder what the superhero costume should look like?

I'm just a miserable prick Katie, that's how I roll. And to prove my love, I'll email again and ask them to fire him and just hire Rich Little. He's still alive right?

Narrator said...

Dale, I delivered a drunken rendition of Barbra's "Woman in Love" over the TTC PA system back in 1997. Were you around for that? It was magic, ho. Magic.

katrocket said...

You're a true Hero of the People, Dale. Your fellow commuters thank you.

Dale said...

Hang on n.v., I know Jesus is Magic but now you too? I'm confused. Actually, I would have loved to have heard it.

It's almost time to find more to complain about Katrocket, he's been at it again sporadically with the bad Elvis. There may not be peace in my lifetime.

Danny Tagalog said...

THIS post is getting too popular - watch your back! Great post!

Dale said...

I'm always watching my back Danny. Too popular and Dale - hmm, words not often found next to one another. :-)