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Letters From the Editor

Confusing Design Caught with Its Pants Down

For the second time I spent the first part of a week in D.C. and – for the first time – I rode the Amtrak Acela, perhaps best described as the Eastern seaboard’s very own Bullet Train. My thoughts of the Acela: nice seats, ho-hum lighting, (same) awful food, nice windows.

I especially noticed the windows while in the bathroom: to be more exact, while using the bathroom. I observed that the bathroom was arranged such that a very large window was adjacent to the toilet. I then noticed the lights outside the window, indicating (to me, anyway) that this wasn’t a fake window, meant to uphold the design of the exterior of the train, but was, in fact, a real window, which I immediately found somewhat surprising, in light of the position men most often assume when using the facilities. I wondered why the designer of the train would place such a window – the bottom of which lined up with my knees and the top of which hit somewhere around my mid-chest – in this very spot.

It was then that I had a double realization: (1) The window was tinted to such a degree that it might really just be a one-way window, and would actually appear completely opaque to any otherwise unlucky passengers waiting on the platform. (2) I didn’t lock the door.

Thus my brilliant observation was so unfortunately undercut by a passenger who very clearly observed me – still doing what I initially went in there to do – with my face pressed to the window. I guess this puts me up there with Archimedes – he jumped out of the bath and ran through the streets after discovering buoyancy. At least I had the decency to zip back up.

One other difference I noted: the Acela travels so much faster than normal trains that it is noticeably more difficult to walk down the aisle. I kept falling into the seated passengers.

And, yes, one would imagine it might be an even more difficult walk with one’s trousers around one’s ankles.

Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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