Train Travel?

Tonia, my wife, took the train to work, a couple of days ago. It normally takes about 7 minutes by train to get to her destination. Despite the fact that most trains are late, this time she could not believe what was going on.

The train stopped suddenly in between stations. The conductor passes her and she asks what was going on. Apparently there was a problem with the tracks and they needed to reverse a small distance to change tracks and they’d be on the move soon again (5 minutes or so). So Tonia textmessaged her colleagues she was going to arrive later.

Half an hour passed and the only thing that happened was that they reversed a couple of 100 meters. The trained stopped and did not move again. Luckily for her the conductor passes by her again. So, she asks him how long it would take. He comforted her by stating they’d be moving again in no time (again 5 minutes?).

Again some time went by and besides keeping her colleagues up-to-date, she couldn’t do much. So, when the conductor came by once more, she stopped him and asked for a clarification why it was taking about 2 hours to get to the next station.

This is what happened : before going in reverse every traindriver has to fill out a special form to get permission to do so. This driver filled out the wrong form and reversed without (official) permission. This means that he lost his driver’s license (he has to repass his exams again! Go through medical examination again, you know : the works!) immediately, which resulted in having to wait for another traindriver to arrive. Ok, so far reasonably understandably, but then it turns out that the form he filled out is the one they will be using from June on. The current one will be obsolete by then! So, the poor fellow was ahead of his time (for once :-))!

Now, I am not sure if you got this right? I had to ask Tonia to tell it again, because at first I did not believe it, but yet it was true! So, this kind of Kafka’s example makes me laugh at first, but also made me realize in what kind of society we are living. It’s sad to see that so many passengers had to suffer from this minor “red tape” issue. I am sure many people might have lost their patience during those two hours…

Lessons learned :

1. Filling out the wrong form can have serious consequences. Be aware you always choose the right one and check if it is up-to-date!

2. If you need to tell your fellow travellers something, give them a realistic timeframe. If you tell them you’ll be moving again in 5 minutes and it takes 2 hours, you have lost your credibility. So, why should they trust you next time?

3. Even if your trip only takes minutes, it can still go wrong. Take something with you to make the most out it. Check also my tips on “wasting more time!”

Enjoy every day,

Bert Verdonck
Lifehacker

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One Response to Train Travel?

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