Saturday, February 25, 2006

Clickety, Clack

I travelled back to Kent yesterday afternoon on the train. That was fun. His Lordship dropped me at the station with twenty minutes to go before my train was due to depart. So I headed off to the nearest food shop to get some 'nibbles' and then to the ticket office. I should have known, Friday afternoon in Leeds, students everywhere and queues halfway out of the building. So I quickly checked them out and seeing that they were all much the same length opted for the one nearest. Big mistake, happy Larry behind the counter was obviously on a go slow. Anyway fifteen minutes later and one missed train, I reached the counter.

"First class return to ****** in Kent please?" I asked politely.

He punched the buttons on his machine. "Where?" he grunted. So I spelled it out for him, it may as well have been Timbucktoo to him. "Returning when?"


"Eighty pounds."

"That's not first class is it?" I replied

At this point he looked up for the first time, eyeing me curiously, I suppose I didn't fit your usual stereotype of a first class passenger. There I was in my jeans, clutching my little plastic carrier bag of nibbles and a condensed version of three chicklit novels courtesy of Readers Digest. (By the way just so you know that is not my staple reading diet. But all of my books have been packed and so in desperation at having to watch yet another night of classic comedy re-runs that weren't that funny first time round and 'celebrity' challenge shows, I scanned Mrs Beeton's book shelves for salvation. It was that or a rather dusty Mills & Boon.)

Leaning forward furtively he asked, "Do you know how much a first class ticket will cost you?"

"Yes." I nodded.

"Are you sure?" He persisted.

It was at this point I noticed his supervisor had arrived and was gazing out past me into the ticket hall. I suddenly got the impression he was looking for someone. The responsible adult who should have been accompanying me perhaps! It's amazing what a flash of platinum plastic can do. Tickets bought, apologies grumbled and I was on my way.

Once on the train I decamped and absorbed myself once more in my book as we still had ten minutes before the train went. A few minutes later a young man appeared at the other end of the carriage, stuffing tickets into the slots on the top of the seats, mine included. So being an inquisitive bod I took a look. My seat it appeared had been reserved from Wakefield, the next stop.
Ok the vast majority of the time I am a reasonable person, I approach situations in a calm and measured manner. However there are certain times like this when, not having had a great deal of sleep and with PMS brewing I become a different beast, a submerged alligator ready to explode. In other words don't mess with me. They just had.

As I was collecting my assorted baggage I spied the steward heading my way. (Poor man.)

"Excuse me," I announced, "Can you tell me, am I invisible?"

He looked at me for a moment, I could hear the cogs whirring. "No madam."

I looked over at the suit who was occupying the seat opposite and asked him the same question. He shook his head, with the awful realisation that he had acquired the nutcase for this particular journey.

The steward stepped in once more, "Will that be everything madam, or can I assist you with anything else?"

Sadly for him, he had just put his toe in the water. After a rant that lasted a mere couple of minutes, (I was too tired for a full blown tantrum), but must have seemed like an eternity for him, he scooped up my assorted baggage and escorted me to another seat... in another carriage. (I'm sure much to the relief of the suit opposite.) This carriage was virtually empty, madam could choose any seat she liked. Tea was brought and my journey continued. interupted only by the customer service announcements:

"Ladies & gentlemen, as I'm sure you can see the train is very busy today and there are folk with bags on seats. If you are one of them folk, please put your bag on the overhead shelf. However if you would prefer not to do this, my colleagues will be happy to assist you in purchasing a standard ticket so that your bag can travel in style. Thank you, have a pleasant journey." Classic!

1 at confession:

Kim Ayres said...

Just a quick message to say thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on my blog. I've readsome of your earlier entries and will be back to visit again.

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