On the same trip I’ve referenced a million times (because it was the only overseas trip I’ve ever gone on), we took the train only a handful of times. For the majority of our trip, we had a car, but we weren’t crazy enough to drive in London, so we took the train to and from Oxford when we didn’t have our car.
The train trip to Oxford from London was so pleasant. Idyllic even. The train was barely at half capacity, and we were seated across from a friendly couple from Denmark. We had a great time chatting and it made the trip really quick and painless.
The train from Oxford to London was a whole other story.
The train station in Oxford was balls to the walls insanity. It was packed. There wasn’t one seat to sit in and if I’m remembering correctly, you had to pay to use the restrooms. It was not my favorite.
When we finally got onto the train, we saw that, just like the station, it was packed.
I had booked our seats in advance and upon seeing the Mad Max situation that was our train, I was pretty grateful for my forward thinking.
However, when we had finally clawed our way to our seats, dragging our bags with us as there was no more room in the baggage compartment, we saw that an older couple was in our seats.
They were adorable. I mean, gray hair perfectly coiffed, matching linty sweaters, and they totally had Kleenex up their sleeves for later. They were the epitome of what every loving grandparent has ever looked like since the beginning of time. Well, ever since easy wear sweaters came into fashion.
We were in a real conundrum. We had two choices: Kindly ask the couple to move or schlepp ourselves and our bags all over the train looking for two empty seats that didn’t exist.
Even worse, there were people behind us trying to get by and there was nowhere to sidle over to as we discussed our game plan. It was act or be eaten by the angry, over-it people lining up behind us.
“OMG. What do we do?” I asked with a deer-in-headlights look on my face.
“I don’t know! What do we do?” Answered Friend, looking pretty freaked himself.
“I don’t know. What should we do?” I repeated with more desperation in my voice.
From somewhere nearby came a voice that said, “If there are people in your seats, bloody well tell them to get out of them!”
We both looked at each other like, “OH GAWD”.
“OK. Go tell them. It’s your turn to do something embarrassing, ” I asserted (It was me who had to ask the cop in Blackpool for directions).
“No way. You’re closer and I don’t want to be an asshole. Look at them. They are Mr. and, the less well known, Mrs. Rogers!” He exclaimed.
“But, I was the one who had to go out of my way to reserve seats so that we would be sure to have seats. It’s your turn.” I proclaimed.
Another phantom voice rang out, “OMG. Sit or MOVE!”
“I’ll just go sit on my luggage by the door,” decided Friend.
Out of nowhere, a voice again, “You can’t do that. You’ll get caught and told to find a seat.”
The people behind us were, at this point, ready to murder us.
It looked like we really had no other viable option as we were blocking the aisle and the man to my left had had enough of having the side of his face smashed into the ten-days-not-washed ass of my jeans.
Just like always I had to be the adult in the situation.
I sheepishly cleared my throat and tapped the woman, who looked just like my grandmother, on her shoulder, prepared to be forever cursed by karma.
They ended up being really sweet, which only made things TEN MILLION TIMES WORSE.
I still, to this day, think of them and hope they found a seat or someone who wasn’t as big of a cunt as my friend and I offered their seats to them.
DON’T HATE ME. I WAS A TRAIN VIRGIN UNDER PRESSURE.
While I was majorly feeling the effects of being a terrible person, my friend seemed pretty lost in his thoughts, too.
Once we were situated, the only place left to put our bags was right next to the exit as this was as close to the baggage compartment as physically possible.
Instead of worrying about what an asshole he was for making me kick grandma and grandpa out of their seats, he was more concerned for our luggage.
“Look at our luggage. The next time the door opens, they’ll all go tumbling out. Just watch.” He ruminated.
“Mmmhmm,” I was too wrapped up in silently chastising myself.
“OK. I’m going to go stand by our luggage. I can’t take the stress anymore,” Friend said, throughly wrought with worry.
I didn’t even care about my luggage, because kicks-old-people-out-of-train-seats people don’t deserve luggage.
“I’m gonna do it,” he said again.
“You’ll get in trouble by the train police, but have at it, dude,” I said totally not caring.
For the first time in my life EVER, I was not the one who was worrying and obsessing.
It felt amazing.
I didn’t give two shits if my luggage full of dirty underwear got kicked out of the train or stolen by someone who would be very, very disappointed by my Target-special clothing.
My friend piled up our luggage, biggest to smallest and leaned on them the whole way to London. If someone walked by, he’d hug his body closer to the tower of American Tourister like he was guarding the secret to the afterlife in between his barf-stained jeans (hang tight for that post) and his questionably clean socks.
When we were nearing Paddington Station, he sidled up to me as I was peacefully resting my eyes (I’d finally accepted my dishonorable deed as a necessary evil of train travel, because the mean train people made me), and whispered in my ear, “I have an idea.”
I almost jumped clean out of my stretched-from-too-many-Magnum-bars-and-cheese-and-tomato-sandwiches skin.
“WTF is wrong with you? Only creeps whisper in people’s ears while they’re resting on trains minding their own business,” I hissed.
My comment didn’t faze him.
“I know how we can both get ourselves and our luggage off the train in one piece.”
“Kinda like how we got on?” I didn’t understand why he thought this needed a game plan. We’d trip over our luggage and our feet like we had getting on like total tourists. Duh.
“No. It’s genius. First, I’ll take my big bag-that’s the size of your small bag, by the way, and your big bag-the one I vehemently swore I’d never help you carry, because you just keep cramming new stuff into it and it already weighs more than a standard-sized car. Then, you’ll grab my small bag and your small-not really small, though, bag and we will all get off this god-forsaken train together,” he said resolutely, but with a noticeably twitching eye.
The rest of the ten or so minutes of the train ride, he kept pantomiming, with overly expressive eyes and wild arm movements, how this “genius” plan of his was going to look. He legit looked like that crazy person every train has.
Someone even asked, “Who the fuck is that idiot gesturing to? Do you think he’s dangerous? Should we be worried?”
I just sat back and reveled in not being the worried, crazy one for once.
We did get ourselves and our luggage off the train, but I almost didn’t “mind the gap” and our attempt to not look too much like tourists, was wrecked by yours truly.
Looking a lot less psycho-on-a-train
Looking like someone who is happy to not be on a train with a psycho
*I’m not some asshole who posts embarrassing photos of others for my own selfish gain. I was given express permission** to share any photo and/or embarrassing story, because friend-in-story would “probably find it funny too”. That’s a pretty solid assurance if I ever heard one.
**For real, I really have permission!