20 minutes out of Crewe, the train doesn’t stop as scheduled:
train manager: where do you want to go?
train manager: (laughs out loud, covers face with hand) yes, you’re on the wrong train
wendy: when’s the next stop?
train manager: (still giggling) London, Euston, in 2 hours
Silently absorbing that I wont be able to present to the 20 people who’ve travelled to Wilmslow to hear me. Trying, successfully, not to cry. I call my colleague who’s travelling separately. My call is cut off as it’s connected, by a tunnel. The train manager is fiddling with his ticket machine.
train manager: you can get on a return train immediately, it will get you to Wilmslow by 1.37pm.
That’s 3 hours after I’m due to start! URGH. I leave a garbled message on my colleagues answer-service as the train manager fiddles with his ticket machine. A 2hr each way fast train to London, that’s probably a £200 ticket he’s printing-out. Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry….
train manager: no-one else has got on this train by mistake (giggle)
He’s just told me I’m a complete numpty. Don’t cry, don’t cry…. I phoned my host, apologised and explained, asked if we could reschedule to 2pm. They agreed to try for this. The train manager gave me a FREE return ticket to Euston, at least this ‘error’ hasn’t cost me £200. I thanked the train manager and sheepishly snuck back to my seat, trying again to call my colleague. 10 minutes later the train manager found me.
train manager: there’re a few people on the train like you, one lady is very upset, she hasn’t stopped crying
wendy: I’m not crying, but I sure as hell feel like crying. (sure as hell = US English)
train manager: could you sit with her? I think it would help
wendy: sure (sure = US English for ‘of course’)
The train manager lead me to the last, almost empty, first class carriage where a lady with immaculate hair and make-up, wrapped in a shawl, was elegantly dabbing her water filled eyes with a well-ironed handkerchief. We exchanged similar stories. I reassured her that she wasn’t dipsy. The Crewe service announcements and signs were less than adequate. How kind of the train manager to give us free return tickets and treat us to the quiet comfort of first-class seats. Rachel was charming and entertaining. But
Crewe train station is not forgiven, I may have to send them suggested improvements for their signage…