The Acela Class
Elegance. Grace. Refinement. Civilization. These words, and many more, come to mind as I consider the modern age, a heretofore unprecedented time of productive industry, creature comfort, and stately luxury unparalleled by any previous era. For all of the splendor of Versailles, the treasures of the Pharoah, and the glory of the Taj, their achievements pale in comparison to the apotheosis of American empire, the pinnacle of human ingenuity, the technological marvel that is the Amtrak train in between Albany and Syracuse.
Arriving at the Station
I alight from my carriage onto the station steps and I’m instantly whisked away by white gloved attendants to a personal waiting room. While there, they offer me water and a freshly baked cracker. Two men come into the room and ask me questions about my life, I assume so that they can tailor my experience to my exact personality and lifestyle. They ask me penetrating, insightful questions, such as “Why did you show up at the station naked, dripping wet, and without a ticket? You keep referring to your “carriage” but you were dragged in by a mangy dog, your body covered in lacerations from the harsh winter streets.” Ah, to be seen with such a keen eye is truly the height of service, is it not?
They call in a personal photographer to take a photo (for a souvenir of the experience, no doubt), and tell me that they’re going to “run my prince,” which I assume means to give me the experience that they normally offer only to royalty. It’s the small touches like that that make Amtrak feel truly luxurious. They tell me it came back positive (which I believe means good) for “stealing a PT Cruiser in Yumatilla, Arizona.” Ah, a biographer must be in their employ as well, to offer me such penetrating insights into my youthful indiscretions! I feel pampered by the level of perfectly tailored service.
After a quick hospitality staff meeting, they tell me they’ll be sending me aboard a train with my own personal guard to a state facility in Buffalo. I’m assured that the accommodations will be up to personal standards. No one said as such, but that’s because I assume it’s a given.
Taking the Train
Ensconced in the velvety cloak of technological innovation and superiority, I luxuriate in my mobile surroundings.
As I boarded, I was transported by the most advanced and mature scent I’d ever had the pleasure to experience. Only in spaces that respect the fermentation process had I ever smelled something as earthy, rich, timeless, and fearlessly pungent. At first, I was surprised that Amtrak had chosen such an avant-garde sensory experience for customers that may not have been exposed to the haute world of parfumerie. But then I reconsidered: everything I’d experienced so far had been such tastefully curated luxury, why be surprised at the extra small thoughtful touches? Stepping onto the train was an experience like no other, the soft padding of the carpet slowly giving way to my callused and hardened bare feet as I dragged myself up the wide, spacious, and beautifully designed aisle. I composed myself and carefully sat in my seat, and here I find myself now, narrating once again to you, my faithful audience.
My guard sits next to me, keeping me safe from would-be assassins and neer-do-wells. Pity that this is necessary in the modern age, but alas, luxury comes with its fair share of jealous malcontents that will stop at nothing to disturb your enjoyment. Behind me are two women—one named Audrey and one named Kaitlin. I assume that they’re seasoned travelers, because they seem to be well past the awestruck period of American train travel. One of them is talking—I shall transcribe a snippet of their conversation here for posterity:
Kaitlin: He won’t stop watching anime porn.
Audrey: Men are sick. That is so gross.
Kaitlin: God, what is that fucking smell?
Audrey: (low voice) I think it’s that guy in front of us. Did you notice he was barefoot when he came in here?
Kaitlin: Anime porn. Is that common?
Audrey: I think it’s more common now, yeah.
Kaitlin: He keeps telling me he wants me to get eye sparkle surgery, to add more sparkles to my eyes.
Audrey: I’m honestly worried about you talking about this in front of the guy sitting in front of us. He seems like a weird sicko and he keeps taking notes in this book called “potential future wifey convos—romantic to write down.”
Kaitlin: Okay, I’ll stop. Want to watch a movie?
Audrey: Sure. What do you want to watch?
Kaitlin: How about this movie About Elly by this Iranian director?
Audrey: What’s it about?
Kaitlin: The New York Times said it was stunning.
Audrey: That sounds good. I’m in!
[silence for 1 hour and 59 minutes]
Kaitlin: Wow, I really liked that.
Audrey: Yeah, really good.
The small pleasures of eavesdropping amongst these society types only further serves to increase my enjoyment of the ride. My guard farts and scratches his arm. I begin to drift off into peaceful slumber, my head lolling against the window, passing farm after farm after Exxon after road after pole after farm after tree after farm after farm after far m a f ter f a r m af t e r f a r….
Reaching My Destination
I wake up and it seems as if my guard has thoughtfully transported me to my destination. It looks like this!
The joy, luxury, and sheer delight of train travel is not to be overstated. A true remnant of a civilized age!
Sometimes I’m so stunned by Ritam’s imagination. I’m sitting here reading this like, “How the hell does he think of this stuff???” It’s honestly so impressive…