Monday, October 01, 2007

Dram: Thank The Newspaper

Here's a little tale from The Voyage that I think you'll enjoy:

The first leg of my Copenhagen-Oslo train ride was a no brainer. I arrived in the junction station of Goteborg (Sweden)at about noon, with 45 minutes before my connection to Oslo. I put my trusty PayPal card in the ATM machine and got some Swedish cash -- I'm out of Euro-land now -- to buy a sandwich, then settled down on a bench to eat and watch for my train to be assigned a track number. By 12:30 I had finished my lunch, but no track had yet been assigned. By 12:40 all of the trains on the board except mine had tracks listed for them and I started to get suspicious. It was then that I noticed something odd in the "remarks" area of the listing for my train. There was a word that included "busse" in it with the numbers "51-57" following it. I started thinking maybe there was a bus replacement for my train -- you may recall this has happened to me before (can you remember where?) -- so I asked a young woman to read the sign for me and sure enough, my train was now a bus leaving from gates 51-57.

So, I started walking down the station concourse at 12:42 and figured to myself that it was going to be a close call. A minute later I reached the end of the terminal at gate number 50. There were no more gates and no signs that I could see pointing to any. The time was 12:44 and I start thinking I'd be missing my ride, but I also thought about all the times things have worked out on The Voyage just because I kept going and let them play out. After exiting the end of the terminal and walking around the corner, I spotted a small, temporary sign behind some construction equipment with the numbers "51-57" on it. Now a couple of minutes past my scheduled 12:45 departure time, I walked briskly along a lengthy sidewalk and turned a corner to see a huge bus parking area that was completely empty except for one bus down at the very end. Pretty sure I had missed my bus -- or maybe not even gotten to the right place to catch it -- I persisted still and walked over to that lonely bus.

There was a driver reading a newspaper sitting behind the wheel. I figured it was his lunch break or something, but I also figured he might be able to give me some info or help me figure out what to do. I knocked on his window and asked him if he knew how I could catch a ride to Oslo. His reply was almost comical: "Get on the bus. I am the bus to Oslo." With yet another chuckle to myself, I climbed on board and took a seat on an otherwise empty bus. The driver closed the door, put the bus in gear and started driving. I was, as you might imagine, intrigued. When I asked the driver if he was going to drive me all the way to Oslo by myself, he told me the whole story of what was going on.

Construction on the tracks made it necessary for my train to leave from a station about an hour down the road. Three or four buses had been on hand to take passengers there, and they had all left except him because he was waiting behind to see if any more connecting passengers showed up. None had, and he was just about to head back to the barn empty when I knocked on his window. I thanked him for waiting and he said, "Don't thank me, thank the newspaper. If the article I was reading was any shorter, I would have been finished and gone by now."

We had a good laugh, then a nice ride to the other station where I got on the train that was also waiting for me to continue on my way to Oslo. Thank the newspaper.

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