The One with the 1:30 a.m. Train

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Waiting for the train at 12:30 a.m. after my flight was delayed for 3 hours.

Number one golden rule of story telling (or what people told me anyways): never start your story from the beginning. In math this would be called the “1st fundamental theorem” of story telling. So I’m going to jump to the middle, where what I would call “adventure” reached its climax.

You know it’s a bad sign when you are on a train at 1:30 in the morning and are waken up by a late-middle-age man in a bright neon vest.

And also what happens when you are an American in England, or, in my case, a person who lived in California for two years and have just got to London, is you would think that you speak the same language as the local people, but there’s always going to be that wonderful moment when you realize you truly, really, and seriously don’t understand them.

I think the man repeated or rephrased the same sentence for four or five times before I finally caught it:

“This train terminates here!”

I would spare you the surprise and confusion and the subsequent swear words in several different language that passed through my mind in the next couple seconds. Yes so there I was, in the middle of. . . god knows where, at 1:30 in the morning. Fortunately enough, so far all British people I’ve met are nice and helpful people although they don’t quite smile at you.

“So where were you trying to go?”

“Leicester.”

“Manchester?!?!” Picture an old janitor with a very heavy London accent, holding his broom, yelling out this single word in the most British way possible, eyes all big and glaring at me with shock. But hell I had no idea how he got “Manchester” from that.

“No no no. Lei-ces-ter. Like the one starting with the L.”

“Oh Leicester!! Is it Leicester?”

You might be completely confused by now. Maybe you’re not, but I really was. Let me explain: apparently the British people don’t pronounce the “ce” in the middle of the word. The actual pronunciation sounds like “Leister.”

“Oh you lucky girl. Look that train right there is the last train!” He pointed to the train just coming into the platform directly next to the one I was on.

I won’t bore you with more details. Essentially I sprinted on the other train and got to my destination at 2:30 a.m.. On the second train I thought briefly about it and realized what must have happened is that I got on the train that arrived 2 minutes earlier than the one I was supposed to be on, which arrived and departed from the same platform.

Despite all the fun and craziness of getting lost in a strange country in the dead of the night, traveling on that after midnight train was not a part of my original plan. But that’s a different story.

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