April 19, 2015
We arrived in plenty of time, which, is unusual for us. The deliberate attempt to reduce travel anxiety and road rage that seems to exist in that valley of the laid-back, paid off. We’d even have time for coffee before I went my way and she went hers. So when the message board said the train was late, a tinge of the avoided stress crept back into the soft morning air. I love trains. I actually love any mode of transportation whisking me away to adventure, but there is something romantic about trains.
The station reminded me of a bygone era. I blocked out the surrounding buildings that didn’t suit my retro fantasy. The electronic message board was a bit of an intrusion but the platform had seen some corsets on it’s benches. The red digital lettering was so this century, and I wished there was an officially be-capped suited man walking through explaining the delay; someone with authority who spoke with reassurance that we’d arrive in plenty of time. Instead I turned to a fellow passenger who arrived by bike and looked for reassurance there.
My heart-on-sleeve characteristic hasn’t changed since birth and the longer the train was delayed the more my anxiety about arrival time was evident. I asked if he took the train often? Does it ever cancel completely? What would happen if it didn’t come? I eyed the area for a rental car place. Suddenly the reality of olden-day inconveniences seemed a little less romantic.
Our conversation distracted me, but as the delay grew longer, he formulated a plan which involved way more effort on his part than was necessary for his day but would save mine. A very kind stranger. As I thought about this offer of kindness and how it would change our existence if practiced by everyone, the train arrived. It’s silver doors opened and as he loaded his bike he turned and said, “Save me a seat.”
Our hour-long relationship was very important to me and I figured it’s duration would only be the length of the journey. He was already late for his meeting. I’d be there in plenty of time for mine. He didn’t complain or fidget or harp on his tardiness. He was so zen. I barely noticed the two hours passing.
Delay due to mechanical problems. How different would that have been if the train were on time? Would we even have spoken? I had planned to review my slides during the two-hour ride. I was going to weed out a few and tighten up the presentation. I thought I’d look like one of those professional commuters who are looking intently at their laptop, apparently doing something very important. I thought I’d be one of them without the black pumps. But the conversation set in and I never took the laptop out. I didn’t even think of it until I started my presentation a few hours later, then looked up and saw him enter the room and sit in the back.
I’m so glad that train was late.