The Day I Screwed Up Big Time and Reacquired Humility
Our trip to Arles was scheduled to take 5½ hours on two trains. If only…
The destination of our first train was Valence Ville. About ten minutes before we were due to arrive, the train slowed to a stop and my husband said, “This is our stop.” Being paranoid about the short time they give you to exit the trains, I quickly gathered my belongings and practically ran off the train. Once inside the station, I discovered our next train to Arles was not on the departure screen. I went over to the ticket counter, showed the man my ticket, and asked him why my train was not on the schedule. He told me I could catch the next train to Valence Ville on track #1. “But this is Valence Ville,” I said. He did not respond but proceeded to write down the information about the train from Valence Ville to Arles. Then it hit me – we had gotten off the train too soon!
We had to wait 90 minutes for the next train to Valence Ville, which allowed plenty of time for my husband and me to “discuss” whose fault this was. “You said this was our stop.” “No, I didn’t.” “Yes, you did.” Eventually, we figured out that he had said, “Is this our stop?” not “This is our stop.”
How could I have been this stupid? I do all the planning, and my husband is happy to leave all the details to me. I should have known he would never say “This is our stop,” because he never knows what stop we are going to.
The train to Valence Ville took 10 minutes, then we had a 45-minute wait until our train to Arles. Shortly before we were scheduled to leave, there was an announcement in French. The only words I could make out were Gare d’Arles (Arles Station). I looked around to see if anyone was getting off the train, and when no one exited our car, I assumed that it was nothing major, probably just a delay.
As we got close to when we were scheduled to reach Arles, I stopped reading and started looking out the window. It seemed to be taking much longer than it should to get there, and apparently, I was telegraphing my anxiety (a specialty of mine). The young man across the aisle called over, “Did you want to get off in Arles?” When I said yes, he explained that we weren’t going to Arles because there was a fire in the station. He apologized for not telling me this before the train left. (As if it was his responsibility to know my travel plans and inability to speak French.)
I wanted to shoot myself! Why, WHY? did I not just ask someone what the announcement was about when they did not repeat it in English?
There is no good answer to this question.
I had been feeling really good about the job I did planning this trip. We loved every town we had stayed in, the places we stayed were all nice, we stayed the right number of days in each town, I had packed just the right amount of clothes, etc. In truth, I was feeling a bit smug about my travel skills. Clearly, I was ripe for a comeuppance.
To continue with the story… I went off in search of the ticket taker to see what our options were. I was wondering how late the trains ran on Sunday nights in March.
When I got back to my seat (having had no luck finding the ticket taker), my husband told me the guy in front of us had overheard our conversation and was looking up the train schedule for us. (In my state of panic, I had not thought to do this.) He wrote down the station where we should get off and the schedule for trains back to Arles from there. People can be so nice!
Fifteen minutes later, it was time to get off. I went to the ticket counter (thankfully, still open) and asked about getting a new ticket to Arles. I was hoping they would not make me pay for it.