Starting this blog, I wasn’t sure how to begin. Do I write an entry about myself? About who I am, what I do? Or do I write about something that’s just happened? Consequently undecided, I put off my first post for a while. However on Friday an event presented itself that I just had to vent about and let out my frustration. Trains suck.
This weekend was my Dad’s birthday, so I was travelling back to my home, Newcastle, for a meal out that night with family. Simple. However, a series of mishappenings resulted in two of the worst hours of my life.
It all began after a day of labs and tutorials, with a frantic, last minute packing of bags and run to the tube station. Upon arrival at the tube I realised something…I’d forgotten my rail card. Too late to return for it, I began to get looks from various people on the tube as my face resembled that of someone who’d just been told a family member had died. “Do I have time to go back? Should I tell the train people when I get on? Can I get a photo of it and show them that? Maybe they won’t check?” I quickly scrambled towards the train, planning to get on, phone my roommate and get him to send me a photo of the rail card. Sorted.
This is where the second problem arose. The train was virtually empty, not a soul. The ticket inspector approaches me and asks “are you on the right train?” to which I reply “yeah the train to Newcastle, right?” The man pauses, “oh you’re on the wrong train, this one doesn’t leave for a while, the Newcastle one was over there, it just left…” The frenzy of swear words that exited my mouth next informed the man that this was not good news. After a confused and loud phone-call with my parents, I make my way to the ticket office to somehow fix this mess. This is a good summary of the conversation that came next:
The earliest train would be 7pm, arriving at 9 45, meaning I would actually be able to make it to the meal. Brilliant. It was already 5 45 and getting to halls then back to the train station would take at least an hour and a half. Not so brilliant.
What ensued next was a high speed chase back and forth across central London to retrieve my rail card, buy the cheaper £80 student ticket and get home. Here I was, at rush hour, three heavy bags in tow, running through King’s Cross tube station praying for a machine gun to mow down the droves of tourists/Christmas shoppers infesting the Piccadilly line. With my prayers unanswered, I was forced to battle my way out of South Kensington tube station, splitting my shoe open in the process and grazing my foot. Five minutes to halls, grab my rail card and my credit card, confuse my roommate who thinks I’m already half way home, run back and board the tube. It was now 6 30 and the tourist infestation had worsened.
Running up and down stairs and escalators, through underpasses and streets, in a coat and scarf. My originally nice dress clothes were starting to become rather moist and creased. I don’t like moist clothes. I don’t like the word moist. I arrived at King’s Cross at 6 50…the train would be leaving in ten minutes. At this point I was going to give up, I wouldn’t make it, even if I ran, all it would do is further moisten my clothes. I should just go to a café, get a coffee and wait for the next train, and just see my family after the meal.
But I wasn’t going to be defeated. I jumped out of the tube doors just as they opened, sprinting up to the station and miraculously making it to the ticket machine for 5 54, and haphazardly bought what was hopefully the correct ticket. Onto the platform, I was mindful to actually board the correct train this time. One positive thing happened at this time. In my rush, my phone slipped out from the pocket in my coat which I was carrying. Having sighted the correct platform I quickened my pace. At the same time I’m chased down by a man waving something in the air. It was my phone. The joy on my face when the man handed over my baby. If you ever read this nice man in coat, thank you so much!
I kept my phone tightly clenched in my hand and boarded the train, asking about three people on it that it was going to Newcastle and that my ticket was the right one. I took the only available seat, the disabled one (great legroom), and collapsed into it, blasting music into my ears for the next three hours in an attempt to banish the last two hours from my memory. I had won. Sat in the chair, tired, angry, my arms in spasm, sweating profusely, my shoe broken and £80 down, I had won.
I arrived at the meal two hours late, but I made it! I had my food…my drinks, and saw my family. A great time was had by all.
So I’ve learnt a few things from this experience, mainly that trains probably aren’t the best material for an introductory blog post (that will come in the foreseeable future), but also some others:
Before you travel remember the most important thing you need to travel
A nice man in a coat is out there somewhere
The predicted time of journey on citymapper is a lie
Daniel 1 The London Transport System 0