It’s become a tradition to begin my travel posts with how much I hate travelling. Much to the despair of my cat and more to my own despair, I travel quite a bit. My latest achievement is a completed business trip to Gdansk, Poland, which took twelve hours on the train, and which I survived. I can’t say I survived unharmed.
Three-quarters into the return journey from Gdansk, the train waited in a random station for one hour. Allegedly, the scheduled stop served the mechanics to swap the train engine. I believe that it mostly served the train driver to take a coffee and cigarette break. I joined him, wondering if only staff or also weary travellers are exempted from the smoking ban at the platform. Anticlimactically, there was no one to enforce the law.
As I was getting back on the train, I failed to mind the gap between the carriage and the platform. I fell literally under the train. In shock rather than pain, I climbed up unassisted and was relieved to find that I neither tore my new jeggings nor scratched my favourite boots. I was less satisfied later at home when I stripped and discovered that my leg was swollen and badly bruised. The bruise isn’t going away, but I’m proud to provide the canvas for a colourful work of art.
My next trip was supposed to be a straightforward three-hour stint on a train from point B to point A. However, this is where point C comes in. The trip was doomed from the start, and the universe let me know by preventing my morning alarm from ringing. I woke up an hour later, got bravely ready in half my usual time and off to the train station I ran. The train was forty-five minutes late.
Still not listening to the universe, because who’d believe in such nonsense, I dragged myself and my belongings to the platform as swiftly as I could when the arrival of the train was announced. I double-checked the platform number, minded the gap between the train and the platform and hopped in the carriage. It was a train to point C.
I thought it curious that the seating layout of the train was completely remade since I last saw it, and it was no improvement. I had trouble finding my business class compartment. I walked the length of the train up to the engine, but my seat failed to materialise. With trust, I approached for directions a stiff staff member in a starched uniform. I presented my ticket and seat reservation.
The uniform inspected my ticket with confusion. “What’s that?” he inquired. “What’s what?” I inquired. The man stared. I stared. It was beginning to dawn on me. “Don’t dare to tell me I’m on the wrong train,” I begged. “You’re not only on the wrong train, you’re in the wrong direction with a wrong company, lady.” The man was merciless. I screamed.
The man far from politely suggested that I step aside BECAUSE WE AREN’T DISCUSSING THIS IN THE FIRST CLASS. In the aisle in between the carriages, I went on screaming inwardly and cursing trains, travelling, tribbles, the system, the president and the whole universe. After I finished banging my head against the toilet door, I asked the uninvolved uniform what he was going to do with me. As if I weren’t sufficiently punished for my idiocy already.
I was sold a ticket to the nearest station for double the price, seated in a quiet compartment and warned to keep my mouth shut. No phone calls, not even one call to my lawyer, whom I don’t have anyway. The nearest station was an hour away. While I did allow sufficient time to get in my destination, I didn’t count in a pleasure trip in the opposite direction and back. The original trip was now off.
I considered throwing myself under a train Anna Karenina-style, but I decided it would be reckless towards fellow travellers who could still get in their destinations in time. So on returning to my starting point, I limped home, much to the satisfaction of the cat. As a cute coda to a lovely day, I proceeded to break a website I’m working on and lock myself out of admin. Within a few days, also the mystery of my malfunctioning phone alarm was explained, when my phone collapsed entirely. What a delightful time. I blame the tribbles.
Your neighbour could be
In response to Andy Townend’s Poetry 101 Rehab.