Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How to be late

Last Wednesday night there were engineering works on the Kings Cross to Peterborough line. Nothing unusual there - it's the second time it's happened in the past couple of months. I don't know if it's a week long thing or they just do it on the Wednesday. I never check. This is because my helpful train company have started texting me whenever there are train delays, as part of their drive to deliver the best possible customer service (with which I am very familiar because they keep handing out handy little booklets telling us how they're trying to deliver the best possible customer service. They're very impressive - and very on-trend: the title of the latest one was "Your station", which came as a bit of a shock). The funny thing is, because my train company run two seperate lines into London, I often get texts about the wrong one, which don't do me much good other than to let me know that one of my colleagues is going to be late for work. But I digress. The point is, because they've started texting me whenever there are delays, I never bother looking at the web site or reading the notices on the station. Which is a shame because it turns out that the texts are only for delays, and not for any other service disruptions which might, and do, affect me, such as engineering works on a Wednesday night.

So twice now I've got to Kings Cross at half past nine on a Wednesday night (Wednesday being the night when I often go for a drink with my good friend and potential business associate SF) to find that the last train that actually stops where I want to get off has gone and, due to engineering, I'm going to be turfed out at Stevenage. Now this frustrated me, because I'd been ever so close to calling it a night and going for the train before, which would have been a proper stopper, if you'll pardon the poetry, but had been persuaded, in time honoured fashion, that there was just time for one more. There's a lesson there for all of us.

Anyway, I was sorely tempted to give the poor sod on the platform a hard time over the fact that I had had no text from the company warning me of the disruption, but of course, it wasn't his fault, and apparently it had been on the web site and notices at the station etc, etc. Of course, in the morning rush hour my only thought is to get across to my platform in time for my train, so I never stop to look at the notices, and for some reason the London platform, which is overwhelmingly the busier of the two at my local station, seems to be some sort of communication-free zone. So with a sigh, I got on the next train, sat myself down and immediately rang SF to bemoan my own bad luck. After failing to elicit a huge amount of sympathy from him, I called The Wife at her Out of Hours shift at our local hospital, who found the whole thing very amusing, and categorically forbade me to get a taxi at Stevenage when there was somewhat overcrowded, but free, bus service laid on. Feeling unloved, then, I examined the contents of my bag for a snack, and was just about to unwrap the cereal bar I found when I glanced at my watch and realised that we were well past the appointed time of departure. Glancing out the door at the same guard I had spared from my wrath, I caught sight of the departure screens and realised that I had got the wrong platform, and that the train I should have been on was in fact the one I had witnessed pulling out the next platform whilst I was whinging to The Wife. The one I had actually boarded was bound for Stevenage, but only after calling at every stop along the line, so I ws looking at the best part of an hour before I even had the chance to make my taxi/bus decision. Oh how I laughed.

Cursing in a most colourful fashion, I gathered up me things, dismounted the train, and marched to the cashpoint, feeling I deserved a treat. I went to The Upper Crust and bought the most indulgent-looking item I could find - a brie and bacon baguette - before returning to the same carraige to find my seat occupied. Finding another spot with less leg room and no space to stow my bag, I munched distractedly on my glorified sandwich for much of the journey, barely registering that it didn't taste as good as it should. Around about the time we reached Welwyn Garden City, I reached the conclusion that I had paid nearly 4 quid for a stale baguette.

I took the taxi in the end.


At 1:33 PM GMT , Blogger Rish said...

"I took the taxi in the end" - and your wife said what?

At 9:33 AM GMT , Blogger JD said...

Actually she was quite understanding - especially when I told her I was taking it out of petty cash.


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