America’s on the downward slope. I’ve suspected this for a while, and it wasn’t just the professional football players who blew off their own fingers with fireworks, or the looming spectacle of Donald J. Trump, Legitimate Presidential Contender, or the approval of a lady libido enhancing drug with the unpronounceable name Addyi instead of the infinitely better She-Zam!
For the last week I’ve been on a book tour, which, admittedly, can leave you with a dim view of your fellow man. You’re visiting a city per day, exposed to humanity at its most raw, undefended, and coughing-without-covering-its-mouth: people in airports, people in taxi lines and train stations, people in transit, people with their masks off, their guard down, and their manners and good sense evidently checked for the duration of their trip.
I have seen the best minds of my generation fumble with their belts in security lines and forget to take their bottled water out of their purses before sending them through the scanner in spite of T.S.A. employees whose job it is to stand in front of the conveyor belts and drone “No bottled liquids.”
Idiots. Dummies. Dodo birds. Our once-great nation is full of them. On Sunday, I was sitting in the Quiet Car on a train from Boston to New York when a couple came down the aisle, blinking and peering around like owlets who’d been rousted from their nests.
They didn’t notice that there was, at the entrance to the car, a storage rack for luggage. Each one of them was hauling a gigantic suitcase they were unable to lift, a fact I learned after they announced it, loudly and repeatedly. Nor did they care that, as they stood in the aisle, wondering out loud how they were going to store their bags, they were blocking several dozen travelers behind them.
Once seated, the man peered up at one of a dozen QUIET CAR signs, then leaned toward what appeared to be a long-suffering spouse. “OH,” he yelled. “THIS IS THE QUIET CAR. WE’RE IN THE QUIET CAR.”
“SHH!” went the quiet car.