It’s A T(r)ap

, , , , , | Working | October 11, 2018

(I’m walking up to the Skytrain station so I can begin my commute for the day when I overhear this exchange between a station employee and a passenger struggling to get through the gates into the station. There appears to be a problem with the passenger’s transit card.)

Employee: “So, it looks like you tapped your card twice by accident; that’s why the gate wouldn’t let you through.”

(The employee uses his card to let the passenger through.)

Passenger: “Okay, thank you.” *walks into the station*

(The gates close behind the passenger, and the employee taps his card again to let himself through. The display lights up red, telling him his card has already been tapped.)

Employee: “Great, now I’m stuck.”

This Sunshine Rose In The East

, , , | Hopeless | September 28, 2018

(I am an exchange student in Japan, and I also work part time at an English school. Currently I am handing out leaflets for my school in front of a subway station. A lot of people glance at me, but very few take the leaflets, so I feel a little embarrassed. I am reading out a spiel in Japanese about our school when a little old lady comes up to me.)

Little Old Lady: “[Something in Japanese that I can’t hear because of a train passing by]… very beautiful!”

Me: *in Japanese* “I’m sorry?”

Little Old Lady: *after a little thinking, in English* “Your hair!”

Me: *in Japanese* “Oh, thank you!”

Little Old Lady: *in Japanese* “Yeah, you have a really beautiful hairstyle! How do you braid it like that?”

Me: *in Japanese* “Oh, it’s really simple…” *explains how to braid the hair*

(We end up chatting about hairstyles a little more, when I remember why I’m there in the first place.)

Me: “Oh, would you perhaps be interested in taking English classes?”

Little Old Lady: “Oh, no! I’m too old to remember all that stuff!”

Me: “Oh, I’m sure that’s not so!”

Little Old Lady: “I’m sorry for not being interested in what you’re promoting.”

Me: “No, that’s okay! Thank you!”

(She didn’t take a leaflet, but she was the best customer I had! Thank you, lady, for brightening the day of a silly, lost, foreign girl! I really wish I knew an equivalent of, “Thanks for brightening my day!” in Japanese!)


, , , , | Working | September 21, 2018

(I’m waiting at a bus stop on a weekend evening. This particular stop is only used by this one bus line out of all bus agencies in the city, as evidenced by the lack of any other bus signs anywhere in the vicinity. At this time of night, the bus only comes once an hour, so I’m waiting for it pretty vigilantly, looking down the street every few seconds as well as tracking it on my phone. I’m standing on the edge of the sidewalk right next to the bus sign. Finally, I spot the bus. Its route is to make a turn from a perpendicular street onto the one where I’m waiting, and it proceeds to get stuck at the intersection for a really long time. I get bored and look back down at my phone. A few minutes later, I see the bus approaching me out of my side vision. I am still standing right at the edge of the sidewalk, and there’s no way for me to move any closer, so I don’t do anything and wait for it to stop. The bus comes up very slowly, so close to the sidewalk that it passes within inches of me, to all appearances as if it’s intending to stop, and then… keeps going. I look up at it in alarm. It moves on slowly but very determinedly until it’s nearly completely past me and the bus stop. Then, when I keep staring after it and start to move towards it, the bus – clearly reluctantly – abruptly skids to a stop. I quickly go after it, and when the door opens I step in. The driver is a very young woman, in her early 20s at the latest, if not her late teens. She is smugly smirking at me, seeming very satisfied with what she just did.)

Driver: “Hee-hee-hee. You were looking at your phone! And you almost missed your bus! Hee-hee-hee. You were looking at your phone! Whatcha looking at your phone for? You almost missed the bus! Hee-hee-hee-hee. Your phone! You were looking at it! You nearly missed the bus! Hurr-hurr-hurr…”

(She went on and on in the same vein, very stupidly grinning at me, clearly just barely holding herself back from loudly guffawing at how hilarious she thought it was. I stared at her, speechless, appalled that she could think it funny to do this to anyone, much less to another young woman who’d then be left stranded for a full hour in the dark in the middle of winter. I paid my fare without a word and found a seat. I noted her driver ID, and the next day I called the bus line’s customer service to report her behavior. Neither I, nor the person I spoke with, found this incident the least bit funny.)

How Do You Say “Burn” In Polish?

, , , , , , , | Friendly | September 14, 2018

(In London, if you’re pregnant you can apply for a pin-on badge that says, “Baby on board,” so that people can offer you their seat on public transport — if they want to — without having to having to guess if someone is pregnant or just shapely. I am about seven months pregnant and have a badge, but I’m only going to be on board about ten minutes. I get on, and it’s packed, but I can stand. It’s no big deal, as I’m off the train at the next stop. A few seconds later, a Polish teenager offers me a seat. I decline, but thank him and let him know that I’m off on the next stop, anyway. I turn away and get my water out of my bag only to hear a middle-aged man in a suit start to rant. He is seated further down the carriage.)

Middle-Aged Man: “Those f****** immigrants. No manners. He’s just sitting there. Not even offering that pregnant lady his seat. He should be ashamed.” *gestures to the Polish man*

(We all ignore him, and I shoot the young guy who offered me a seat an apologetic smile. Suddenly, a little old lady further down the carriage marches up and hits the ranting man’s shin with her umbrella.)

Old Lady: “I heard that young man offer her his seat! You can bloody talk! You’re in priority seating. You’re the one that’s meant to move for the less-abled. It says it right above your head. He might be Polish, but you can’t even read English!”

(The man in a suit went bright red and got off the train at the next stop. He disembarked so quickly that he almost knocked over several other passengers.)

Got There Ferry, Ferry Fast

, , , , | Hopeless | August 29, 2018

My dad was travelling from the Netherlands to France, by public transportation. He was going to join my mother there, who went a few weeks earlier. His trip should’ve gone like this: Tram, Train 1, Train 2 (Thalys – a French-Belgian high-speed train operator), Metros/Subway, Train 3 (TGV), Train 4 (local train), walking a bit, Ferry,  and then hello, Mom! He had done this trip for several years and this was most likely the last time he would have to make this trip.

This is how his trip went:

The tram had some scheduled maintenance, which they mentioned only a week before. They arranged a bus, but there would be delays. Dad decided to take a bus earlier than planned, just in case. He arrived in time for Train 1.

Train 1 had no delays and my dad got on the Thalys, arriving on time. The Metro was going fine, as well. Then, he got aboard his TGV (Train 2).

The TGV decided to leave one hour later than planned. No one bothered to give the passengers information, so it is unclear why. Dad realised it was going to be tight with the last ferry. On-board personnel assured him he would make it.

The next train, the local one, however, suddenly decided to have 30 minutes of delay, as well! The train personnel and an English lady — who spoke fluent French — realised it would be impossible to get my dad on that last ferry. Dad already resigned to the idea having to look for a local hotel, in a country where he didn’t speak much of the language. Maybe these people could help him find a hotel?

The train personnel called their head office, while the English lady translated. No, there would be no compensation possible, because he was going to arrive at the station and it was not their problem he will miss his ferry. The train personnel and the lady, however, both didn’t accept that answer of the head office. Some fast and “wild” French was spoken. Suddenly, the train conductor and the English lady came to my dad.

The lady explained that they would be reaching a town within a few minutes. He would have to get off there, but they had arranged a taxi, free of charge.

My dad realised that this town was about two hours away, but the lady told him not to worry, and that he’d make it.

At the town, my dad was all but thrown off the train and into the taxi. The car left immediately. Dad checked the speed of the car, and after the fourth traffic law was broken, he decided to pray that the insane driving of the taxi driver wouldn’t cause an accident.

When they reached the town of the ferry, they saw a lot of local cars in a jam. The taxi driver said they all had to get on the ferry, so not to worry! He passed them all and dropped off my dad as close as he could get, which was all but inside the ticket office.

The taxi driver helped get my dad his things, and they hurried to the ticket office. My dad didn’t have the time to properly thank the taxi driver. The ticket office employee told my dad he had made it with ten minutes to spare!

The employee also told him that because of the many people who still needed to take a ferry, they’d only just decided they would put in an extra ferry. So, even if my dad had missed the ferry, he would still have been able to go to my mom.

My dad messaged my mom, and she hopped into the car and hurried to the ferry own — without speeding and breaking laws. My dad arrived 30 minutes before she did. They were now reunited.

Dad did manage to push out thank-yous to the people who helped him, even though they were hurried ones. Thanks to the train personnel who wouldn’t take “no” from their bosses, the English lady, and the taxi driver, my dad safely reached his destination.

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