Last weekend, I took the last train home. It was small (only one wagon), some people were drunk, which was okay, as they kept to themselves. I started listening to an audiobook and drifted off to sleep, only waking up when the train stopped.

On the last station before I had to get off a man took a seat across the aisle. I could see him talking to some security guards, which I thought was about his documents/passport getting checked.

My headphones broke down, and I realized that the man was playing music from his phone speakers- it was louder than necessary, and the quality was pretty bad. I asked him to use the headphones he brought, but he refused, claiming he wore them all day at work (it was a Saturday, hence I doubt he was working). He turned it down a bit, so I took a book out and started reading. Later, he turned it up again, and I approached him more rudely- which resulted in him insulting me in incredibly personal ways (how I probably never had fun in my life, why I was commuting to a city at night if not to party, guessing how many times I fell on my head during childhood, etc.)

I halfway managed to fix my headphones by then, so I didn't hear most of it (only the bass of his music and some insults), and decided it wasn't worth the hassle and left, which was annoying, as I didn't find another good place and it felt like letting him win.

Some of the other train passengers, almost exclusively Germans (according to their accents) and sleeping/quietly talking) told him off once, but none of them were sitting as close as I was.

I doubt the train conductor could have done anything else than kick him off the train. What could I have done that would have improved the situation?

Cultural context is Western Europe/Germany.

  • 1
    In the Netherlands, there's usually a sign in the hallway of a train with 'house-rules'. Do German trains have that as well? Or are we talking 'unofficial, unspoken rules' about what's rude/ an acceptable level of noise and what not?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Nov 27, 2017 at 12:34
  • 1
    I didn't see any, but from what I gathered from my time here most Germans are pretty polite and refrain from disturbing others as they have been brought up not to defend anybody if possible. The man was German (according to his accent) but made it clear that he would, in no way, cooperate/turn his music down, and that he didn't care he was on public transport. For context: I'm not German, but I've lived in German speaking countries most of my life.
    – junie
    Nov 27, 2017 at 12:37
  • Were the securities still on board when you engaged the person?
    – Fildor
    Nov 27, 2017 at 13:24
  • @Fildor No, otherwise I would have called them. I think he argued with them about the music as well, as he shortly used his headphones. A lot of arguing was also impossible, as most passengers were half asleep and I didn't want to wake them as well.
    – junie
    Nov 27, 2017 at 13:29
  • 4
    Plenty of people work at weekends, so you've no grounds to assume the man was lying about that. Nov 27, 2017 at 18:14

4 Answers 4


Assuming that there is no legal high ground that can be claimed here then I'm afraid to say that you'd probably best avoid any confrontation. If you are prepared to confront him and deal with whatever fallout might happen, then so be it. But assuming you want to resolve this without any escalation, I'm afraid the only thing to do would be to try and avoid the situation or confrontation for as far as possible and make a complaint about it to the public transport company.

I'm unsure about how the rules are in Germany, but over in the Netherlands there are rules on almost every balcony (the area for standing or access to the doors) where it is explicitly stated to

Please be quiet in the designated 'quiet areas'. Respect other passengers by not talking loudly or playing music anywhere in the train

So I'd argue that if people are in violation, the conductor should be informed. What they do in response to that is secondary. But the point is that if people are not obeying the rules set, they risk punishment or being denied service entirely.

I'd argue that by informing the conductor, not only are you looking out for your own comfort and well-being, but the comfort and well-being of others as well, and thus the right thing to do.

  • 2
    Informing the conductor is a way of dealing with the rude person, but I'm not sure it's an IPS answer, but more of a legal action...
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 27, 2017 at 12:52
  • 3
    @OldPadawan "I'm not sure it's an IPS answer, but more of a legal action..." - Well, not engaging the aggressor yourself is an interpersonal answer (in some respect), imho.
    – Fildor
    Nov 27, 2017 at 14:02
  • @OldPadawan I see your point. I think this answer and my own both cover that part by saying "you rather not try". Should it be made clearer?
    – Fildor
    Nov 27, 2017 at 14:08
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – HDE 226868
    Nov 27, 2017 at 18:19
  • Understand that his behaviour is likely not accidentally, but purposefully rude, to frame himself as being above the rules. Challenge such people with caution, even by using another authority (train conductor) as a proxy. Feb 28, 2018 at 11:58

If there is a rule against playing loud music or not doesn't really matter. You don't have the "Hausrecht" as a passenger.

That out of the way, you can of course in a first step try to appeal to his "common sense" or make the person aware.

But if that doesn't work - don't engage yourself any further. Please always turn to a person with authority. That is in case of a train: A conductor, private security, Bahn-Security, Landespolizei (formerly known as Bundesgrenzschutz).

Escalating it does not have any benefit for you. It only raises the chance of being harmed.

If no conductor (or similar) is available value your health higher than an inconvenience. We don't need another headline like "Woman beaten to hospital over dispute about loud music" ...

I also like to pick up on a line of one of your comments:

"But I am physically stronger than he was, although it was probably not obvious, as I'm female."

I wouldn't take any chances there. Personally, I have a background of 30+ years of martial arts and still (or better because of that) I would never engage an obviously hostile individual. That's what authorities are there (and trained) for - "to serve and to protect" ( German: "Ihr Freund und Helfer").

Once injured, what does it help you if you have been in the right?


I'd say to the train staff: Excuse me, there's a very noisy guy very close to my seat, and I really need sleep. Do you mind if I change to another wagon?

  • or just do it straight away if it's allowed.
  • OP stated in Question it was a small train with only 1 wagon.
    – Fildor
    Nov 30, 2017 at 9:28

In Germany I would do a quick googling to find out if he is allowed to do it (listening to music loud, insulting). If he is allowed -- well, sad. You will need to be patient.

If it is not allowed -- contact the related authorities.

Just noting -- I didn't notice the country tag at first, and thought that if he would do it in Russia, he would be greatly endangered, and would have a chance to lose his phone and a couple of teeth because of his behaviour, or get a bit of pepper in his face. And have very little chances to prove something if he goes to police and complains.

  • Insulting people is usually frowned upon (there are laws against it, but go ahead proving it). I'd probably just contact the conductor next time, or hope never to encouter another person like that again.
    – junie
    Nov 30, 2017 at 8:57
  • @junie Well in this specific situation, you would probably have at least the conductor as a whitness, right? Don't know if it'd be worth the hassle, though.
    – Fildor
    Nov 30, 2017 at 9:29
  • I doubt he would have acted out in front of authority. But it doesn't really matter anymore, next time I know how to act ^^
    – junie
    Nov 30, 2017 at 12:43

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