Monday, March 22, 2010

Classic. Simply Classic.

Friends, this story, in a snapshot captures so much about the ridiculousness of my life. I sent this to a few of my closer friends right after it happened and most of their responses were something along the lines of, "Only you Liz, only you." Without further ado, my failed trip to Bucharest.

I was accompanying a friend to Bucharest to a doctor's appointment. Bucharest is 7 hours away on a train. Her appointment was at 2pm. The train options to Bucharest are 5:15am, 5:57am, and 12 noon. Needless to say, we "chose" the 5:57am. I decided I would make it an adventure, because getting up at 4:30 is really not fun, and two 7 hours train rides in 48 hours is also not excellent, considering the high probability of a really crappy train at least one way. I packed food, I got us a place to stay, I found out that the Bucharest orchestra was performing Beethoven's 4th symphony, and I asked a friend for restaurant recommendations. Why just go for an appointment when you can make an adventure out of it? Obvi.

We decided to meet at the station at 5:30am, plenty of time in case there was a line for tickets. And now that I'm all The Mama Figure, I try to take lateness and Unexpected Events into consideration. I can't even believe how much of an adult I've become. 

So I got there at 5:30, per the plan. I called her at 5:33 to check on her status, and she said she was leaving her house and would be there in 5 minutes. Right. Only not at all. If you knew where she lived (as I do), you would have been a tad bit anxious (as I was). So I tried to buy the tickets, but without her student ID I couldn't get the student discount for her, so I just waited. I called her at 5:46 and she said she was almost there. I realized I was anxious and I realized Jesus totally doesn't dig that, so I prayed through Philippians 4:6 over and over and over. Which helped. 

So, side note. I TOTALLY used to be the girl who would get to airports literally 35 minutes before the flight left, get to the train station 4.2 minutes before the train left. But it was always JUST ME, I always knew I was capable and fine and had it all worked out so I wouldn't miss things. Oh but now that I'm The Mama Figure, it drives me bonkers. And whatever, people are late, but it just creates a HSTCS, aka a high-stress, time-crunched situation. I do not do well with this. Give me 50 moving parts, an excel spreadsheet, a power point deck, and 8 hours, and I will give you the most glorious conclusion from all the data that money can buy. Give me 3 moving parts, 3 minutes, and I melt into a lump of useless goo. 

My friend arrived at 5:49. I told her we had to move quickly, so we went to get tickets, there was one lady finishing, one lady ahead of us, and then we got our tickets. Turns out foreign students don't get discounts, only Romanian, sooo I could've just gotten the tickets earlier. But I saw the train immediately outside, a nice big train that said Bucuresti Nord on a digital display on the side, so even with the time crunch I thought we were fine. I thought. We went out, alll the way down to the end and around and then I saw on our tickets that we were in car 2, but the end we were at was car 8, so I was Full Speed Ahead to get on the train. It was 5:55 so we just got on car 4 to walk down the rest inside. 

I vaguely thought it was strange that there was no one in that car, but it was a BIG train, and so I thought maybe just most of the people were in the other end. I thought. I vaguely thought it was a bit strange that the lights were off, but then again, the sun hadn't risen yet, and Romania is weird sometimes. I thought. For one fleeting second I had the thought, "maybe we're on the wrong train" as I looked across the platform and saw another train. But that was at 5:57 and the train started moving. So the thought quickly vanished. After all, it SAID Bucharest on the side and it was leaving at the exact right time. 

So we sat down, and I kind of curled up to sleep and didn't think anymore of it. We stopped after a few minutes, which would be normal, cause there's another small train station at the edge of town that is the first stop on the way to Bucharest. It seemed like we were staying there quite a long time, but I was just trying to sleep, so I didn't really care or look outside. And my friend has a degenerative eye problem, so it's not like she could really see what was outside. A train yard. 

A few minutes later a man came through, and I assumed it was the guy to check tickets. But his jacket said SECURITY, which I thought was strange, but again, nothing out of the question. He stopped at us and I pointed to our tickets. He just kept looking at us, so I was like, Ummm, is there a problem? Then he started talking all fast in Romanian and I was like ummmm, we don't speak Romanian super well. Finally I understood that he was saying we were on the wrong train. And I was like WHAT? No! How?! 

Apppppparently that train had COME from Bucharest that morning, and it left right at 5:57... to go to the train yard 200 yards from the station. 
So we gathered out things and got off the train, schlepped across all the tracks back to the station. 

Then I had no clue what to do. Like I said, there wasn't another train until 12, and I had NO idea how to go to a romanian-speaking-only ticket seller to ask if we could get our money back. Why? Because we're IDIOTS. I just thought, Dude, this is so where a husband would come in handy to just KNOW WHAT TO DO. 

We went to the ticket lady and there was noooo one around who spoke english, so I was trying to communicate in Romanian, and I think she got the idea. I thought she was telling me that I could get some but not all the money back, or just change to a new ticket. But I wasn't sure so I called my roommate. At 6:07am. Thankfully she was awake and I slid my phone under the little slidey slot. Of course 5 people had queued up behind me and were not so pleased about the amount of time I was taking. Indeed, the woman was actually saying what I thought she was, so I just said fine, give us back what you can. She was nice, which is huuuugely a blessing, because a lot of people here who work at ticket places or any bureaucracy are not helpful and not nice. 

Then we walked across the street to the bus station to see if there were any buses. The times for buses to Bucharest? 1:30am. 5:50am. 10:30am. Not so helpful. At that point I just had to admit defeat and tell my friend we would have to make another appointment and go some other day.  I tried to encourage her and remind myself that we can't screw up God's plans. The whole sovereignty thing is a pretty sweet deal.

I got home at 6:30am and just went back to bed. 

I made a new appointment for this Thursday afternoon. And you know what the Bucharest orchestra is doing that night? A Chopin piano concerto and Bizet's Carmen fantasy. So it'll allll be fine. Hopefully.

1 comment:

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