I had a train to catch this afternoon and I caught it.
The truth is, as usual, somewhat lengthier and involves a confrontation with a couple of officious ticket collectors, but I still won. And winning is what it’s all about, right?
I had a train to catch this afternoon. The sort of long distance train that you book in advance to make the journey affordable. The sort that you shouldn’t really miss because getting the next one is not just an unnecessary nuisance, it’s a really expensive unnecessary nuisance (and in this case would probably also mean getting in really late and not being fit for tomorrow’s meeting).
That meant leaving work early and catching two other local trains to get to the station. I started looking at train timetables a few days ago. I checked again this morning and decided on a connection that left me quite a lot of contingency time (more orderly people would probably have left double..)
I occasionally have an urge to be more organised. Part of that involved spending the Easter weekend finding the bottom of my washing baskets so that I would have a wardrobe full of clean, dry clothes to choose from. It didn’t stretch as far as actually packing..
I got involved in a late-night discussion instead of packing and had to pack this morning instead. By the time I’d agonised over the weather and what I was going to wear when, and watered all the plants, I ended up leaving ridiculously late.
I got to the station and remembered that I needed a ticket for the journey to work but didn’t think about what I was doing and bought a ticket for the whole of Berlin instead of just the area I need.
The tickets are valid for travel in one direction for up to 2 hours. You can get off the train as often as you like during those hours, but you can’t go back in the direction you came from.
Work lies almost directly between my house and the station I was leaving from later. If I left work a few minutes earlier than I’d planned, I could get to the station using the same ticket I’d come in with. I figured it was a lucky mistake after all.
As is probably obvious to anyone who either knows me or has read more than three of my posts, I left work a couple of minutes later than I should have done. I got to the station half a minute or so later than the train should have left.
There are trains scheduled every 10 minutes, so it wasn’t really a problem
I say ‘should have left’, because it turned out it was running late so it arrived before the next timetabled train.
In a different universe I would have got to the station without further incident.. However. This isn’t that universe. This is the universe where “maximal nerve-wracking” is my automatic setting.
In this universe the ticket controller got on the train at the exact moment the time on my ticket ran out.
By the time he got to me.. “Your ticket ran out 4 minutes ago”
“Where are you getting off?”
“Uh..here.” I pointed at the next station. I wasn’t planning to get off there, but it seemed like a good idea to not be on a train with an invalid ticket at the same time as the controller. (Not having a valid ticket in Germany carries a 60€ fine). From that station the trains go approximately every 3 minutes, so it shouldn’t matter too much if I waited for the next one. Especially seeing as the train-timetable-app said the next train was running a few minutes late…
“Ok.” (That’s the abrieviated version. He was very grumpy but jobsworthily pleased to have someone to rant at).
He watched as I got off the train..
..and then got off too.
He sat on the bench with his controller friend and looked as if he was content to stay for the duration.
I was only three stops away from where I wanted/needed to be, two from where I needed to change, but there was no chance I could walk there and still catch my train.
I went back to the ticket controllers.
“I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I wasn’t supposed to get off here after all. I need Other Station instead. Can I get the next train with this ticket? It’s only two stops… Please?”
They weren’t very happy, but they did rather dourly allow me to get on the next train.
More accurately, they made sure I knew just how much I wasn’t allowed to use tickets past their use-by time, then escorted me onto the next train and watched me to make sure I got out where I said I would…
I luckily had to change platforms to change trains, and they got back on the train to check the tickets in a different wagon, so they didn’t see the last 3 and half minutes of my illicit journey.
I arrived exactly 15 minutes before the train left, exactly as instructed by the ticket :).
There were major building works at the long-distance station. And rather confusing signposts. And I was trying to catch a train that doesn’t exist on the timetable, rather like the Hogwarts Express, except that I didn’t know which platform to aim for.
My ticket said check the boards and the board said check your ticket.
I found the right platform by chance and after going up and down escalators more or less at random and checking all the platform displays. Some of which said check the display..
Whee? I guess..
When the train arrived it was full and the thermostat was broken
But I was on the right train train at the right time and I did get a seat and there were openable windows and we all got there safely.
And that was the end of another successful travelling day.
(Yup, I’m off gallavanting again – there are meetings tomorrow and Friday that I want to go to, followed by people I want to visit for the weekend)