Traveling for an extended period of time isn’t without it’s pitfalls and close calls. On one such occasion, I was traveling through Denmark on my way to Germany. It seemed as if Murphy’s Law (everything that can go wrong will) was in effect that day. I woke up to an email from the train company stating simply the train I was meant to take that day had been cancelled. Panicked, I threw all my belongings in my bag, and rushed to the train station, only to wait in line for three hours with the other poor souls at the help desk. Thankfully, I was able to book another trip for that day, two hours later than the original, but at least I wouldn’t have to sleep at the train station. This being Copenhagen, there was no way I would be able to afford a place to sleep.
The re-routed trip consisted of two trains, a bus, a ferry and another train. The first leg of the journey went off without a hitch. After about 2 hours, I made it to a station on the border, where I was meant to catch a bus to the ferry. I exited the station and walked to the bus station nearby. Thirty minutes past, but there was no sign of the bus. Dozens had come and gone at this point, but none of the drivers I asked seemed to know which bus I was talking about.
There were 8 or 9 other people in the same predicament as I was, and we eventually huddled together to think of a game plan. Nothing bonds you more to people than mutual irritation. By the time we figured they’d forgotten about us it seemed like was too late to act. The sound had set, and all the train station employees had gone home, so there was no one physically there to help us. We checked time tables, looked for an emergency phone number to call, searched the station website, but before long it looked as if I was going have to sleep at a train station after all. I claimed a bench and tested to see if my back pack would make an adequate pillow (it really didn’t, but it beats waking up with all your stuff gone, I guess). The rest of the group started to settle in around me. Suddenly a shadow fell over me. I glanced up and a lanky youth was looking down at me.
“Hey, do you mind watching my bag, while I run to the restroom?” He asked.
I nodded and sat up. I am used to strangers trusting me to watch their things. I think it must be because my face is so round, and I have dimples. Oh, and I do actually watch their stuff, haha.
A few seconds after he left, the double doors flew open, and an employee of the train station entered the waiting area announcing that a personal bus would arrive shortly to take us directly to our destination.
“I am sorry you’ll have to talk to the company directly to file a complaint or request a refund,” she then announced, like this wasn’t her first rodeo, before leaving from whence she came.
At this point, it was 11:45pm.
We all looked at one another delighted. It seemed as if we were out of the woods. The bus then pulled up outside. I glanced around for the youth, but he still hadn’t come out the bathroom. A few more minutes past, the waiting room was empty, besides myself and his backpack, and I was feeling a bit antsy and irritated. Obviously, the bus driver could see me waiting, but all the same I wanted to get going. Finally, he sauntered out of the bathroom, then started to jog when he saw the waiting room had emptied. Once we were all finally on the tiny bus and on the way, there were a string of high fives and smiles, before most people closed their eyes to nap.
The bus boarded the ferry, I battled with extreme sea sickness for the next 45 minutes, then we all got back on the bus to finish the journey.
I settled back into my seat as the driver proceeded to leave the ferry when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around.
“Look.” The passenger who poked me was pointing to an empty seat, with the youth’s backpack laying across it. In my sleep deprived and sea sick state I couldn’t quite comprehend what he was trying to say.
“I think someone is missing.”
I realized in horror that he was right. That kid from earlier wasn’t on the bus, and I guess because I had waited for him to use the facilities he was now my responsibility? This was bullshit.
“Stop!” I yelled at the driver, who then screeched to a halt. I ran up to explain to him that we were leaving someone behind.
There was an audible groan throughout the bus. We then waited. And waited. And waited. But the missing guy never showed. After about 15 minutes passengers started throwing their hands up in the air, and I could see the bus driver getting antsy. Everyone just wanted to leave and I had a sinking feeling that they were in fact about to leave without him. Before that decision could be made I volunteered to go look for him. There was apprehension, but also relief in the driver’s eyes as I exited the bus. It was funny (and by funny I mean rude) that the bus driver didn’t offer to drive back to the boat, so instead I was forced to sprint back to the entrance. I had this horrible feeling that they might leave without me as well.
As I approached the entrance a crew member blocked my way.
“Mein Freund ist im Schiff… (My friend is in boat…)” I panted in grammatically incorrect German.
The guy looked at me quizzically.
“Ich muss ihn holen. Bitte? (I need to pick him up. Please?)” I pleaded, and the guy, judging that the 124 lbs girl in front of him probably wasn’t a threat, waved for me to pass.
I sprinted up 3 flights of stairs to the the main deck, thinking that I would never be able to find him. Lo and behold, I happened to immediately see his mess of brown curls sticking up from the sofa right in front of me. I approached his sleeping form and poked him on the shoulder. He was so dead to the world I had to physically shake him as hard as I could before he slowly lifted his head.
He smiled at me, but when he saw my expression and the empty deck he immediately replaced his easy expression with one of panic.
“We have to go!” Motioning frantically to the door.
While running back to the bus, he kept thanking me profusely explaining how he had just traveled back from Asia and therefore hadn’t slept in 36 hours. I was ecstatic to find the bus still waiting there for us. We were greeted with sleepy claps as we boarded, before zooming away.