Don’t Be Grumpy – #1LinerWeds

I traveled by train from Connecticut to Washington, DC in early December. This story starts on that train, in New Rochelle, NY (yes, where Rob and Laura lived).

A woman got on the train, dressed for business and looking like she was ready to read someone the riot act. Our car was crowded, but the section I was in had several open seats, including the one next to me.

“Are you getting off in New York?”

Had she not been such a sharp-tongued little shrew, I would have explained that I was on my way to Washington. As it was, I simply said ‘no,’ without bothering to look up from my laptop.

She queried the surrounding passengers until discovering that the guy in front of me was getting off in New York. I suppose, she wanted to be able to move to a window seat. I really didn’t care.

I’ve taken Amtrak trains more times than I can remember, and they always make the same announcement before entering the tunnel that heads under the East River.

“Next stop, in a few minutes will be New York’s Penn Station.

The cafe car is closed. The cafe will reopen after we leave Penn Station.

A new train crew will be taking over in New York. All tickets will have to be rescanned. Please have your tickets ready as the train leaves Penn Station.

Penn Station – Next stop!”

After leaving Penn Station, the conductor started moving from the back of our car. I had my ticket out and ready to be scanned.

When he moved to the row in front of me, he couldn’t get the woman’s attention, she was listening to music. He made what I recognize as the conductor hand-motion to “please remove your earbuds so I can speak at you.” She responded sharply with “what is it?”

Up until this point, I was content not to like this woman. Now I actively disliked her. I don’t like people who are rude to cashiers, conductors, receptionists, waiters, waitresses and bartenders.

“I have to scan your ticket.”

“It was scanned when I boarded”

“Yes, but I have to rescan it now.”


“I’m part of a new crew. It’s standard procedure. There was an announcement before the train entered Penn Station.”

“I didn’t hear any announcement.”

I wanted to say, “stop wasting his time and show him your ticket!” But the conductor responded with a very good one-liner.

“Can I see your ticket Ma’am, or will you be getting off the train in Newark?”

Well played, Mr. Conductor. Not only ‘off the train’ but ‘off – the – train – in – Newark’ and he Ma’am’d her.

The woman grumbled, fussed, rocked back and forth in her seat and finally produced her ticket.

Meanwhile, the woman across from me was Face-Timing her young son.

“Mommy’s on a choo choo…”

“Yes, just like Thomas…”

“Yes, we go over bridges and we just went through a tunnel that goes under a river…”

“Yes, honey, when you’re older mommy will take you on a choo choo…”

“I love you too.”

I saved this post for today. I hope that in 2019, whenever we encounter grumpy people, we look around, and listen for the rays of sunshine among us.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner, I’d encourage you to join in on the fun. You can follow this link to participate and to see the one-liners from the other participants. This is also part of Linda’s Just-Jot-January. You can find out more about that here. PS, if you’re a Maddie fan, there’s a 9-second video to show how chill she is on her cot.


  1. Loved your story, Dan. Like you, I don’t think kindly about those who are rude to folks who are just trying to do their job. Hope today is warmer. :)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Gwen. There really just is no need to be rude to these people. It was 25f when I left for work – it was 59f in my office! They turn the heat down at night and on weekend/holidays, brrrr.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. haha, Maddie was enjoying the bed and mild weather too much to bother with the squirrel, eh?!
    Re: your grumpy lady, sometimes i just can’t keep my mouth shut – you are obviously much nicer than I am!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Judy. I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference between those two women. Both were working away on their laptops, but one was enjoying the ride and one was just being nasty. Usually the train is a pleasant ride. Every now and then, you run into a nut-job.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Shelley, I’m glad you liked the story. Maddie is a funny girl. She can sit and watch like that, but if she gets startled by them in the yard, she will practically rip our arms off.


  3. A big round of 👏👏👏👏👏 for that conductor! Well done. When did being rude and nasty become every day occurrences in our society? Where’s the “Big Guy” when you need him?!

    Really like the chain reflection. Gives the appearance of being a very uniquely shaped fence.

    Maddie on her cot in January!! Woohoo! Your squirrel buddies are certainly not shy. I love the way Maddie just watches him in the video. Hope none of the squirrels try touching her cot…. I think that would produce a very different video! 😳

    We had that killer wind too. Of course a series of strong gusts came up just when Murphy left a ‘deposit’ so there I was chasing after the rolling poop with the bag in one hand and the scoop in the other. Any guesses how many of my neighbors caught that on video?!?! 😱

    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Ginger. I’m chuckling a little at your wind encounter, but only because I can imagine the affect. Maddie decided to go in early. Usually, we have to drag her in, but she had had enough of the wind. I think it is also cold for her. Maybe if I had put her vest on.

      A couple of squirrels have reached up to Maddie’s cot at times. We quickly try to throw a peanut in a different direction.

      As for the lady on the train, I really don’t understand why people just can’t exhibit a little common courtesy in situations like that.


  4. “Can you turn down the wind?” …. oh yes, I’ve asked that question more than a few times!

    Based on the conductor’s response, I’m certain he’s had to deal with more than his fair share of nasty people. I love it when service people have a great comeback that firmly puts rude people in their place.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Ha!–he Ma’am’d her. Years ago, my kids grammar school got a new principal. She came to Florida from NY. Southern kids are taught, at an early age, to always say ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’ out of respect. Sorry–not my kids. Their mom is a tried and true Northerner. Anyway, one of the kids called the principal ‘ma’am.’ She thought she was being sassed. School secretary had to quick assure her she was not. I was born in Newark….so, yeah. You don’t want to get off in Newark!! :)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was similarly raised to say yes/no ma’am/sir. I was called out by a cowroker for ma’aming her. This woman seemed to cringe a bit when he added that. I almost didn’t add the bit about Newark, but I couldn’t resist.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. hmmm – mommy on face time or conductor on grump time? door number one please. and sympathy for the conductor. and yes mommy was talking to the bigger pleasanter child in the room. and yes sympathy for the conductor. too bad that when she asked for his badge number he could not have said 007, bond, james bond. and oh by the way this is the new jersey ejection seat button. have a nice day. and now we return to our regularly scheduled choo choo report….

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Loved the conductor’s no-nonsense answer after that woman’s snotty attitude. I wouldn’t mind overhearing that Mommy on the phone with her little one at all. I’m smiling just thinking about it…and about the conductor’s response too.

    Wow, I’m so impressed that Maddie didn’t’ lunge at the squirrel and try to chase it out of the yard! I’m glad she enjoyed her cot time even if it was a bit breezy out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. the conductor handled this perfectly. The woman was really left with no room to complain and no reason not to comply with a simple request.

      The mother on the iPad was so nice. She was also trying to work, but she was just so patient and she clearly didn’t care if anyone overheard the ocnversation.

      We are always worried that Maddie will someday remember that she’s a dog. We try to keep the squirrels farther away than that. I didn’t even see the guy approaching at first.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting contrast in your experience of the two ladies. One was not so much of a lady, but it was nice to finish with the sweet mother. Seems to be lots of contrast in your photos too. And contrast between how Maddie acted with the squirrel and how Doodle the coon hound would be. Maddie is such a good girl.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Oh boy, that woman put the grump in grumpy with a capital G. I often wonder with angry/rude/scowly people what their story is and why they are so unhappy. The conductor handled her perfectly, but I imagine he has had to deal with many tough customers over the years and has a library of one-liners for several occasions.

    Love the Face timing mommy. She’s a good mommy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Grump with a capital ‘G’ – how hard is it to pay attention and follow instructions. I doubt this was her first time on the train, she should have known the drill. The mommy was so sweet, I could only hear her half of the conversation, but I could tell how good that kid felt. Thanks Mary.


  10. I often wonder how miserable a person’s life must be for them to take their anger out someone who has little or no recourse. It makes me sad. And then I just want to flip them the bird! I’m complicated. Ha ha ha ha


  11. It sounds like the conductor know how to handle that rude lady. When I lived in Germany in the 1970s you were expected to show not only your ticket but your passport between stations! And if you were rude, you got the boot no questions asked.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dan, good story to start 2019! Always important to include Maddie & the squirrels in your posts! 😊 Loved the conductors retort to the rude passenger! Newark is not a place to get off! 🤣 Grumpy people are everywhere! If I catch their eye, I’ll just smile at them! Happy first week in 2019. 📚🎶 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rude people. Sigh. There seem to be plenty of them. Everyone should be as chill as Maddie. That’s quite impressive! Good for the conductor for keeping his cool, too.

    On a related topic, I’ve found most people using “Sir” or “Ma’am” are either from the South or in or have been in the military.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet. I used to use Ma’am all the time, but I was corrected by women here in Connecticut.

      A little consideration in these situations goes a long way.

      I’m always amazed at Maddie and how she just sits while the squirrels get so close.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve had my fill of rude people. Women have come to equate assertiveness with brash retorts and rebuttal. Not just women but they seem to be worse about it these days. Good for that conductor. I have learned a few of those million dollar phrases to use myself. How sweet about the woman having a Facetime with her son about the choo choo. PS I love that reflection shot! Poor Maddie. Darned wind. Hang on girl. Spring is just around the bend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cheryl. I find enough rude people to fill my day. When they are rude to me, I do have something to say, but I’d rather spend time with nice people.

      Maddie doesn’t mind the cold (we put a vest one her if it gets too cold) but the wind just drives her crazy. If it’s a light wind, she sniffs everything. If it’s hard like this, she just wants to come in.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Awww Choo-choo momma makes me smile. That grumpy goose well bless her heart. She’s obviously miserable. It’d be all I could do not to insert myself. Biatch get ur dang ticket out! Or at least that’d my thought bubble.

    Maddie is so regal. Such a sweet doggie.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Didn’t think I would start my New year’s response to you with “I hate those people too!” LOL Great one-liner, Dan.


  17. Great story! I love courteous put-downs. Miss Manners was a ninja at those. Down here in the south, we do try to keep things courteous. Like, when a phone conversation has gone a little past long enough, and we say, “Well, I won’t keep you any longer,” as a prelude to ending it. Face Time Mommy is going to take Face Time Kiddo on train and teach Kiddo how to behave in public. No Grumpy-Pants in training, there!


  18. The story was quite interesting. To understand this entire plot, I had to open up Google Maps and locate Hartford, New York, Newark and DC. This is because I must know the movement of the train. I believe I figured it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry, Sharukh, I should have included a map. New Rochelle is the last stop the train makes before New York’s Penn Station. So anyone getting on there in the past would have been on the train to hear that announcement. The woman was just too self-absorbed.

      It’s hard to full appreciate the Newark thing if you’re not familiar with New Jersey. Let’s just say, it’s a place you might not want to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m a bit aware of the Newark’s reputation along with Detroit and other cities like St. Louis. When I was working for eBay project, I was working in the complaints department. You know people getting cheated online, fraud, and so on. So, we had a training on understanding some areas where the frequency is higher. Here I had an opportunity to talk to my trainer and find out more about the crime in the USA. This was during the dinner break one on one talk. I love to talk about crime because I love criminal psychology. During my college days, I took Literature, Economics and Sociology as my main topics. I majored in Sociology, but I would borrow Criminal Psychology books from the library. Many of my friends would never understand why I do that.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I was really good at Chemistry in school. I would score a full 100/100, but I was not so good in Physics (because of math). I initially chose Science as my field, but later switched to Arts as I was managing my studies and work together.

            Liked by 1 person

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