Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Rule Virgin Rail

At the train station last night, after I took a photo of the station train people trying to load a surplus of people onto the train. This was after I had missed the 6:25 to London because SH and I could not find the train station. Everyone knows where the train station is! Why would you need signage for the train? I have seen many signs for the local crematoria (crematoriums?) and I suppose that's useful in case I find myself with a dead body in the trunk and no good place to pull over on the side of the road because there are NO SHOULDERS so I can lug the corpse into the woods and bury it using the public access footpaths that have been so hard won.

SH even resorted to suggesting that I ask for directions, which I know was torture for him because for SH, asking for directions in a foreign city where our maps are worthless and the streets are not laid out on a grid is an admission of failure, not a mere acknowledgement that hey, I'm not from here and I don't know just KNOW where everything is.

Taking photos of the general public without their knowledge is one of my main hobbies.

We weren't even late because of my map-reading challenge, which is to see the road signs, I need my glasses, but to read the map, I can't wear my glasses. Normally, this would not matter, but on English roads, seconds count and more than once, we have passed our turnoff as I say, "Hey, I think that was our turnoff."

SH got me to the train station at 6:19, telling me I could still make the train, but I had to get out of the car and run the last half block because the traffic was stopped. I went straight to theticket machine, which was a mistake, because of course the machine would not read my US credit card, which meant I had to get in line to buy a ticket from a person, of which there were only two, even though the line was at least 8 deep. By the time I got my ticket and a printout of where I changed trains (twice -- information not on the ticket itself because shouldn't I know to change trains at Leamington and then again at High Wyckham? doesn't everyone know that?), it was 6:29 and too late.

So I went to the coffee shop and ordered a mocha, which was another mistake because again, my credit card would not work, so I used my last five-pound note to pay so now I have only three pounds cash which means I better not have any chocolate emergencies today, and also because hello, drinking caffeine at 6:30 p.m.? does not work for me if I want to be asleep before 1:00 a.m., which in a way worked out because when I got to Debbie's, she was working on a project with this maddening spreadsheet and trying to write one "if" statement to analyze six possible conditions and I told her to move aside, I was the spreadsheet queen, but even though the formula should have worked, it didn't, but I found a workaround and helped her on that while she worked on another part of the project and we took frequent breaks to talk about capital punishment, child abuse, and statutory rape, so all in all, it was a pleasant evening.

Beck to the train station. I am sitting waiting for my train -- I now have almost an hour to kill until the 7:25 -- and notice the conductors trying to encourage people to squeeze in so the remaining five passengers could board. One potential passenger was shouting into the window, "If you could just move in a little closer, that would be lovely! and we could all get on!" but for whatever reason, the boarded passengers were having none of it. I took a photo of the event and a woman lumbered out of the office next to me. Photos are not allowed, she told me. I could get permission from Virgin HQ if I wanted, but I was not to take photos of the general public without their knowledge.

OK, I said as I put my camera back into my backpack, but without deleting the photo. But why this sudden concern for privacy considering that there are CCTVs ALL OVER THE PLACE?

But the train station was private property and that's different. They've had Incidents, you know. And trainspotters. [Whatever a trainspotter is -- I never saw the movie and have no wish to.] One especially cannot take flash photos because it might startle the driver, which makes a bit of sense to me.

Then she asked where I was from and how long was I visiting and did I like England (she might not have asked if I like England -- doesn't everyone? why ask?) and I told her that if I could still take photos, I would have taken one of the dog water bowl sitting there as I had seen bowls all over the place, even where there were signs protesting, "No dogs," which made me wonder how serious the Brits are about keeping dogs out of pubs, etc.

Then the train was late and the screen announced the lateness in one-minute increments, which seemed silly as they should have been pretty sure that it was going to arrive at 7:37 instead of 7:26, 7:27, and 7:28. But I still made my connections so here I am.

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