Saturday, May 05, 2007

Adventures at the counter

Yesterday, I ordered train tickets for a trip to Barcelona and today I headed over to the train station to get them.

It was quiet in the station hall, no one seemed to take a train at that moment, so I went to the counter and told the person behind it I had ordered some traintickets and would like to get them. She asked me for the reservation code and some details about payment. Everything went well and soon my tickets were being printed.
But then two ladies entered the station hall en came to the counter, standing behind me, waiting to buy a train ticket. There was only one counter available at the time, so they had to wait until I had finished receiving my tickets. Because the transaction of printing ordered international train tickets takes a little longer than buying a local trainticket, the two ladies behind me started mumbling after about a minute of waiting: 'Why does it take so long?' It seemed that the noun 'to wait' didn't occur in their dictionary, as one of the ladies soon stood next to me repeating the same question.
Naive as I am, I responded that I was getting some ordered tickets, but that she could get her ticket at an automatic ticket dispenser located a bit further in the station hall. I suspect she didn't like my answer, looking at her facial expression while she mumbled something like, 'Me? Do 'I' have to get my ticket there?' Later, I realised she probably wasn't aware something like an automatic ticket dispenser existed, let alone that she knew how to operate one.
But she gave it a try, heading over to the machine, but soon returned to the counter, standing next to me while trying to get the attention of the person behind the counter.
The woman behind the counter ignored her and continued handling my tickets and started explaining which tickets I had ordered before putting them in an envelope.
Then the lady next to me started talking to the person behind the counter, telling that she needed a train ticket urgently.
The woman behind the counter answered : 'I'm busy, wait your turn.'
Then the woman next to me replied : 'But I need to get a ticket urgently, I'll miss my train.'
The woman behind the counter responded : 'I can't be bothered, I'm handling an international dossier. Wait your turn.'

The woman behind the counter continued putting my tickets in an envelope, while the woman desperatly needing a train ticket backed off. When the woman behind the counter handed me the envelope I thanked her, wishing her a nice evening and started heading out of the station hall. While I left, I heard the woman, who stood behind me earlier, ordering her train ticket.

I think I was less than five minutes in the train station, which was not such a long time for getting international train tickets. I remember standing behind a couple ordering their international train tickets with only one counter available in the station, when I needed to get a train ticket, with the departure of my train getting nearer as minutes passed by. I don't remember clearly how long I had to wait then, but I'm quite sure it took longer than I had to wait for my tickets today. But I got a ticket and that train on time, probably with seconds to spare, but who cares about that when one gets on a train right on time.
Normally, I use a railpass for 10 rides, that I have to fill in before getting on a train, so I don't need to wait at the counter before I can get my train.
But if I have to buy my ticket, I use this rule of thumb : 'Leave 10 minutes earlier, in case you have to stand in line before you can get a train ticket.', a rule of which the two ladies behind me probably hadn't heard before. If you don't have to stand in line more than 10 minutes, you can get your train without rushing and maybe you have time to buy something to drink or enjoy the sun or the people passing by while standing at the platform. If you do have to wait for more than 10 minutes, well, then there's nothing you can do about it, but wait. There are plenty of trains to come after the one you are missing. Missing a train gives you even more time to enjoy the sun at the platform, or watching people in the train hall, rushing to get their train. Or maybe you can get something out of your bag to read while you are waiting for the next train.
This is what I meant when I mentioned, 'relaxing trip' when traveling by train, in the previous message : reading a bit while listening to some music, watching people or enjoying the scenery. But some people don't seem to get this.


Mona said...

Three consecutive posts?! You aren't overdoing it, are you?

Bright Smith said...

Of course, there are always things one does not foresee, even when departing 10 minutes earlier, like a delay due to an exploded tram or something. But even if that's the case, it's not a legitimate reason to be rude.