Magazine February 6, 2012, Issue

The Gilded Choo-choo

An Amtrak train near Wilmington, Del., June 24, 2002 (Tim Shaffer/Retuers)

Aside from the used diaper in the sleeping-car compartment, it wasn’t a bad train trip. Arrived the day it was supposed to, didn’t derail. If you’re wondering how a used diaper could sit in a train without being detected by the staff, then you never took Amtrak in the bad old days. Either the staff didn’t care, or they believed the diaper was a metaphor for the system, or no one could detect its bouquet amongst the other fragrances that wafted through the train. The ghosts of a million cigarettes from the smoker’s lounge, the blue perfume of the diesel

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