The time warp of the Metro North Bar Car

by Susan Getgood on April 26, 2012

in Advertising, Commuting, TV/Film

Bar Car - why don't they have these on my train?

Bar Car - Photo credit: bitchcakesny

Of late I have felt a bit like I am living a distaff 21st century version of Mad Men.

I work in advertising, although for a social media publisher, not at an agency. I commute daily on Metro North’s New Haven line and live in Fairfield County, although in far less glamourous Bridgeport, not Cos Cob. And of course I am not a philandering asshole like Pete Campbell. But every time there’s a Mad Men scene on the train, or when the city dwellers venture out into the suburbs, it feels just familiar enough to resonate.

And sometimes my life has echoes that evoke Mad Men.

This was particularly strong the other night. I missed my usual express train, so had to take the slightly later train that runs local from Stamford to New Haven, and the last car (which I prefer for proximity to the parking garage in Bridgeport) was the bar car.

Plus I wanted a drink. It was that sort of day.

Sitting in the Metro North bar car when it is staffed (versus just the car with no bartender) is like stepping into a time warp back to the 60s, and not just because the actual car seems (but probably is not) that old. It’s a semi-private club, with regulars who have been traveling the commuter rails together for what seems like years. Now, the train itself is like that –I see the same folks everyday, some of them on both ends of my commute, and we chat on the platform or in the elevator at the parking garage.

But it is a quiet community.

Not so the bar car. The bar car is the polar opposite of the quiet car. It’s a party on the rails, and the regulars are a mix of modern day Roger Sterlings and Pete Campbells. There are a few women in the bar car, but it is overall a pretty estrogen-light place with a locker-room feel. For example, on this occasion a main topic of conversation was the erotic ebook Shades of Gray, which I had never heard of until the gentleman sitting next to me asked if I had read it.

Yeah, the bar car is that sort of place.

Not sure I have the constitution to ride it every day, especially since it makes me a few minutes late for my sitter when it is the 5:48 train. But I learned last night, I could do so, as there is a website Where’s the Bar Car (wheresthebarcar.com) that reports which MNR New Haven trains have the staffed bar car each day. I’m pretty sure that the folks I was chatting with the other night decide between the 5:26 and the 5:48 depending on which one has the bar.

A votre sante!

More articles about the bar car:

And about Pete Campbell’s commute: http://trainjotting.com/2012/03/26/conn-men/

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