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  • Inside the station, the jacket-and-tie businessmen and the unshowered bums are sitting quietly, consigned to the same slow pace. If the destination mattered more, we’d be flying.

    Outside, two Amtrak chefs are smoking by foodscraps. They help shuttle us slowly across the continent, unseen, the passengers' single grand journey their daily routine. They must sense space more keenly than flight attendants—they see it out the windows, hear it as they sleep, feel it rumbling up through the soles of their shoes, smell it in the wisps of diesel fumes. Maybe their cigarettes even burn differently up here in the mountain air. Every couple days they’ll take that small knowledge home to one end of the line, San Francisco (but really probably Oakland) or Chicago, and for a time the world will no longer sway beneath them.
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