Friday, August 2, 2013

Amtrak - The Smell Of Death !

If you have ever traveled on AMTRAK on the eastern corridor you might know what this blog post is about, the smell of death. If you’re posh and travel on the ACELA you will not know what I am talking about but, on their regional trains, the detergent that they clean the inside of the trains with is most peculiar. 

I will put my best wine nose on and try to describe…

There’s a hint of death, musk, formaldehyde, roses, incense, and leather all mixed together.  I have never been to an embalming, but for some reason this is how I think it smells. 

But wait!!!

It seems that the smell has been modified.  I am sitting on the Friday morning regional to Washington and the smell has changed.  It still percolates a slight smell of death in case you were to miss it, but there is a stronger citrus and floral bouquet.  This might be death 2.0, “the funeral”.

Imagine…we have already had the embalming done, and now the neatly preserved, only ever so slightly smelly body is has moved to the viewing room, surrounded for flowers, and sliced lemons, (OK I don’t get that part of the analogy either).  It’s still a very overpowering smell, like the fat woman who gets in the elevator with you who bathed in perfume, only she died a couple of weeks ago.

The one thing I will say though is how pleasant the environment is, (sans smell). I have a roomy reclining chair, more legroom than any business class flight, it’s clean, (the detergent might smell but by god it cleans, I could eat off these seat trays, in fact I just did).  I often think we dismiss the train.  We rush to fly everywhere, and true, a train from NY to LA is not a realistic option, but how many people are lining up at LaGuardia to catch a dirty, cramped plane, that in summer has a very high chance of being delayed and it isn’t in any way quicker.

My train journey:

                        5 minutes to train station
                        15 minutes waiting to board
                        3 hours travel time
                        Arrive center of DC – 3 hours 20 minutes

The flight:

                        35 minutes to LaGuardia (If you’re lucky)
                        30 minutes through security (if you’re lucky)
                        30 minutes waiting
                        15 minutes to board
                        1 hour flight, (if you’re not delayed)
                        20 minutes circling waiting to land
                        20 minutes getting off and out of airport
                        30 minutes driving into center of DC (if you’re lucky)
                        Arrive center of DC – 4 hours 05 minutes

I also have the advantage of a buffet car, large windows with things to look at out of them, two electrical outlets, no turbulence, a clean toilet (test driven), I can go for a walk and stretch my legs, all for $85, (how much was your shuttle ticket?)

I just wish they would get rid of the smell of death, even if it’s ever so slightly improved!

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