The Soot-Bag System

In the early days of rail travel, people who had the financial means to travel first class often went third-class, to save some money. To discourage this practice some British railway companies adopted the "soot-bag system". They would hire a chimney sweep to travel in the third-class carriage and shake out the contents of his bag, getting everyone dirty. At other times, pigs and sheep were transported in the third-class carriages. The idea was to make third-class travel as unpleasant as possible.

I figure that the modern-day equivalent in the airline industry is the "no-legroom system" and the "only-a-bag-of-peanuts-on-a-five-hour-flight system".

Source: The Railways of England by W.M. Acworth (1889)

But another and apparently unforeseen consequence [of the introduction of third-class railway carriages] followed, that "certain persons in superior positions" were base enough to travel in third-class carriages. If universal indignation could have crushed these miserable creatures, they would soon have succumbed; but they persevered, even in spite of the "artificial inconveniences" specially invented to deter them. Not but what these inconveniences were serious enough.

The management of the Manchester and Leeds Railway adopted what was known as the "soot-bag system." Sweeps were hired to enter a third-class carriage which had been specially kept for the benefit of "persons in superior position," and then shake out the contents of their bags. At other times, if a correspondent of the Railway Times can be trusted, "sheep and sometimes pigs were made the substitutes for sweeps."

Even then some persons—if report said true some bailies of the City of Glasgow—persevered in their evil courses. But their conduct was strongly reprehended by all respectable persons.
     Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 11, 2021
     Category: Trains and Other Vehicles on Rails | Transportation | Nineteenth Century

A few of the rich and powerful are absolute prima donnas who demand only perfection and pampering (these are the ones who give the rich a bad reputation). Most of them, however, actually like a bit of mistreatment/slumming/roughhousing. They're attracted to SoupNazis, self-absorbed hairstylists, and idiot children. Face it, the only reason anyone spends all that money to holiday in France is because of the rude waiters, foul-mouthed chefs, and insane taxi drivers.
Posted by Phideaux on 02/11/21 at 08:49 PM
The rail system in Europe has cleaned up its act. I have found that most trains are tidy and the passengers civilized. The U.S. had a very good passenger rail system, but that was sixty years ago and lost out to the automobile with the help of the federal government building Eisenhower's Interstate freeways.

Phideaux, I have to disagree about the French, at least the suburban French. Most of my unpleasant experiences have been at the hands of the urbanites in the major cities. Once you get out of the urban areas, they are pretty agreeable with the tourists. (That's me!) It helps if you attempt to speak a little of the native language. They will correct you or admit that they do speak some English.
Posted by KDP on 02/11/21 at 09:20 PM
@KDP -- The rich visiting France generally go to Paris or Nice, the hotbeds of hatred for tourists. I suspect the locals began acting the way they do because Americans eat it up.

My only sojourn in France was in early 1970s, and it quickly cured me of any desire to go again. My experiences precisely parallel the ultimate rant against the country: "I've had Frenchmen call me a savage because I only took half an hour for lunch. Hell, Ms. Barham, the only reason the French take two hours for lunch is because the service in their restaurants is lousy." -- James Garner/Lt. Cmdr. Charles E. Madison in "The Americanization of Emily" (1964). For that matter, the police in Hamburg were nicer people than any Parisian I met.
Posted by Phideaux on 02/11/21 at 11:30 PM
I've been to Paris several times since the 1980s and never had more problems with the locals than I had in any capital city. It's still a capital city. Londoners are also seen as @#$&*(#s by other Englishmen, particularly from Oop North, and I wouldn't want to live in Amsterdam or let Amsterdammers move into my neighbourhood. But I found Parisiens no worse than those. (Of course, KDP is right. Don't behave like a typical Southern Fried (or New-Englander) Tourist, and your experience will improve no end.)
Posted by Richard Bos on 02/13/21 at 04:35 AM
As for the trains, I've never known them to be at all bad in any European country, except by comparison with Dutch or German ones. Yes, Belgian and Italian trains are rickety, and English trains run on a timetable dreamt up after a whole week of opium eating. But they're all as clean as any public service can hope to be, and the passengers a lot more civilised than many automobilists I meet as a cyclist! (Underground trains, though, are a different matter.)
Posted by Richard Bos on 02/13/21 at 04:38 AM
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