Friday, May 29, 2015

Loo Review: Amtrak train 187, Quiet Car

Locomotion, which once staked a fair claim in building our country, is now a mode of transportation reduced largely to novelty. Lacking the efficacy of the airplane or the agency of the automobile, trains chug along, carrying an ever-dwindling number of passengers, their horns a cry of nostalgia for the halcyon days of America's nascency.

Anyways, I crapped in an Amtrak bathroom.

What trains lack in speed or competitive pricing models, they make up for in their relatively expansive commodes. Each is accorded the space of a standard handicap stall, a preposterously  indulgent allocation of real estate. Every train car offers two restrooms, a far more generous per capita ratio than that offered by the rapacious fucks of the airline industry, who would, but for the negative PR, happily march passengers through a trash compactor and have flight attendants stack the resultant flesh cubes in the holding bay of the plane. Though the extra room is of little practical value, the psychological effect is heartening. Here, it seems to suggest, is a place one can stretch one's legs, or pace while mulling conundrums philosophical. 

The space is well-lit without feeling clinical. Though a faint uric odor persists, it does not overwhelm the senses. The many identical bathrooms remove the urgency that normally accompanies the use of a public lavatory: taking one's time does not violate the social contract nor force one's co-travelers to crowd, wincing and irate, outside the door. Bashful eye contact with the next partaker is also, mercifully, spared. The lock is a firm, forceful mechanism that leaves no doubt as to the security of the space. The amenities are built tastefully into the walls, marrying form and function in a decidedly pragmatic union. And the train itself provides ample cover noise. It is an oasis, a panacea to the ills of grimy rest stops and Lilliputian comforts of airplane bathrooms.

Alas, the bathroom is not without flaws - it falls victim to the shortcomings inevitable in the attempt to mobilize plumbing. The toilet is dry, which results in the fruits of one's labor lying balefully uncovered. In drastic circumstances, looking at one's effluvia feels akin to gazing back at the wreck of Gommorah. Thankfully, the lid comes clanging down of its own accord, and the flusher is immediate. Also, while trains are not subject to immense turbulence, when one is at one's most vulnerable, a little can go a long way.

Nevertheless, in a world increasingly beset by profit margins and apathy, the bathroom in the quiet car of Amtrak train 187 provides welcome relief. As America plunges heedlessly toward the future, trains, and their bathrooms, are content to remain stationed in the charm and comfort of the past.

Grade: 4 out of 5 toilet paper rolls

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