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English and crocodile tears

I mentioned yesterday that getting from Rotterdam to Amsterdam via the train was a bit of a fiasco. Before reading this there are three things you should know. 1. I used to live over there so I have a fairly good idea of how the train system works. Or at least I think I do. 2. I speak Dutch fairly well. I’m not 100% fluent but I speak it well enough to get around and understand what’s going on around me. 3. Thinking you know things better than you actually do can be worse than not knowing anything at all.

Once I got into Amsterdam I was supposed to meet a former au pair friend of mine but I couldn’t get a hold of her before I left. We had talked the day earlier and she said she’d be into Centraal Station around 6pm. I could have gone earlier and been with my host family’s current au pair but I wanted to spend a few more hours with them. At the time I thought I would leave for home early the next morning and wouldn’t see them for a long while. Ha!

Anyway, of course I hung around until the last possible second and got to the station way later than I should have been. Since I was running late I decided to take the express train since it would get in at 6 instead of the normal getting in at 6:30.

I’d never taken the “super fast” train before so I asked at the desk for that train specifically. I double checked when she handed me the ticket that it was for the fast train. Oh no, I have to pay extra for the fast train. Ok I knew that (and why I asked for the fast train but whatever). I paid the extra, she handed me a different ticket, I took that one and made a run for the train since I had less than five minutes until it was supposed to leave.

I was relieved that I am a fast runner and made the train with a minute or two to spare. I found my seat and glanced down at my ticket. That’s when I realized what I was holding in my hand wasn’t a ticket at all. All I had was a voucher for the extra fee. In a panic (because the fine for not having a ticket can be 50+ euros) I went to the door to ask if what I had was enough. Nope, he said. I stood at the door not knowing what to do. I would like to mention that to the conductor, I spoke English. Sure, I could have easily spoke Dutch but then? How could I feign being an ignorant tourist?

The train was leaving so there was no way I could go all the way back to the ticket counter. If I waited then I spent an extra 8 euros for nothing since the next express train wasn’t for another hour. I’d just have to take a normal train. I told him I paid for a ticket but this voucher was all I had. He was nice and said a ticket was only 10 euro so I should just stay on the train.

That would have been fine but stupid me only brought a few euros more than I would need to get there and back. I opted not to bring my credit card because I didn’t want to lose it. At this point I was at the brink of tears. I was mad that I was going to pay double for a ticket and worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to get home.

As soon as the conductor came by I burst into tears. I’m talking, giant crocodile tears. I started to tell him I wouldn’t have enough to get home and I really did pay for a ticket I swear. He interrupted me mid outburst and asked how much I had paid. I told him how much and he said not to cry, someone found my ticket. He then stamped both tickets and walked away leaving me feeling like an idiot for crying.

I wish I could thank whomever found my ticket. Or maybe the conductor just felt bad for me and pretended someone did and so he could let me on the train. Either way, I had enough money to get me there and home despite my poor planning.

After I got to the station I waited around for several minutes before I heard that my friend was actually sick and not going to make it. I know she couldn’t help it but seriously? I went through all that just to get there 20 minutes sooner… and I wasn’t even meeting anyone. ::sigh::

As you know I ended up having a great time anyway. Why the darn lady at the ticket counter didn’t call after me I’ll never know. I really don’t think I was running that fast that she didn’t notice. I also don’t remember there being anyone behind me, or even in the ticket area at all. Thank goodness for English and my ability to cry crocodile tears on command.

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2 Comments

  1. Crocodile tears on command?

    A working knowledge of Dutch?

    You are all strange and strangely talented!

    I am intrigued anew.

    • The crying thing is incredibly useful. There are a million troublesome situations that can be gotten out of with a few strategic tears.

      The Dutch? Not nearly so much. I do enjoy it far more than the crying thing though.

      As for the strange, I've only just scratched the surface.

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