Trains are tricky things

A friend of mine has been writing a blog for some time, and I thought: “How hard can it be?” So here is an incredible, action-packed story that is sure to captivate. (disclaimer: situations like these do not happen to me often, and this sort of blog will be rare)

It all took place last year when I had the preposterous inclination that I was smart enough to go to oxford. We had been told to start looking for university open days and to dream big, so here I went.

I was travelling to an Oxford open day with my responsible sister (my parents had other plans), and feeling as happy as I could on a train without wifi. We departed from the very local Loughborough train station at 8am and arrived in Oxford just fine.  It was a summer day, and I was wearing some hip new shorts and a fashionable tee shirt. After learning that Oxford university is ‘compatible with everyone who wants to go’, we had lunch at a small and very chic french sandwich shop and felt rather metropolitan. Alas, after taking a tour around St Johns college, it was time to catch the train home.

My sister and I sat on a blue bench at the oxford train station, playing with an assortment of Snapchat filters. The train was right on time, and we jumped up and got on eagerly.

This was a mistake.

I soon realised in a heart-stopping ‘oh ****’ moment, that I did not have my wallet with me, and thus no train ticket, no railcard, and no money either. I would like to say that I remained cool, but that would be a bit of a white lie. Instead, I told my sister that I was going to the toilet, and rushed off to the front of the train. I am still not sure what I was hoping to find, but what I ran into was the first class carriage. Staring at me were three train employees: a blonde woman and two dark-haired men, rather unhappy that I had interrupted their blissful silence. ‘Words don’t fail me now,” -I hoped as I tried to explain myself to the staff members. I managed to tell them that might I had left my wallet on a  blue bench at oxford train station. Still partially doubting me, the blonde woman called a colleague at oxford. The acquaintance said she’d: “have a look”. This was not promising.

So to recap, I was now waiting for a woman to find my wallet on a blue bench in Oxford, while sheepishly sitting in a first class train carriage with three mad grown-ups ogling me.  Oh, and my sister thought I was spending an awfully long time on the toilet.

Miraculously, the mystery woman had located my wallet on the Oxford train station platform and had called the blonde woman asking what to do next. This was an issue since I was scheduled to get off of that train at Birmingham new street and take a different train back to Loughborough. You see, it is difficult to hand someone a wallet; when they are travelling away from you at high speed and have a 20-minute head start.  It certainly did not help that the blonde woman was having difficulty getting a signal on her phone.

Another anxious 10 minutes passed, in which I had found my very peeved sister, and we were now both sitting in first class wondering why I had to screw up today. Luckily, the blonde woman has regained a signal and was starting to assemble a plan. First, she had to call a friend and co-worker (for purposes of anonymity, let’s call him Steve), who was going to be on the next train from Oxford to Birmingham and could pick up my wallet in Oxford, and transport it to the Birmingham train station, where my Sister and I would be waiting. A deceptively simple plan, since it was around 8pm already and the window of,  ‘get off the train in Birmingham-pick up wallet-catch train to  Loughborough,’ was around 10 minutes. (3 minutes between pick up wallet-catch new train).  It was going to be close.

At Birmingham New Street train station, we left the train, thanking the blonde woman for all her help and in possession of Steve’s phone number. In the train station, we realised that the platform from which we would collect my wallet, and the platform on which the train to Loughborough was departing, were on complete opposite ends of the train station. But we were going to make it!

After practising a dry run from one end of the platform to the other (involving a frightfully slow lift and a 200-meter underground platform dash to catch it), we received a text from Steve: “I will be in the train engine. Arriving in 5 mins.”  It was on.

We waited patiently on the underground platform, as the train arrived. We began jogging to the end of the platform, where the train engine would stop, wondering if Steve was really reliable, and what he looked like. We should not have worried. Half of Steve was hanging out of the engine window, as the train approached, waving my wallet in the air. After catching up to the train, I took my wallet and yelled “Thank You”, as we turned and ran. We must have run at some kind of world record speed, because we somehow made it down the platform, into the lift, across the corridor, down an escalator and up a few staircases to our Loughborough-bound train. I texted Steve a sincere thank you.

I can’t thank the blonde woman and ‘Steve’ enough, they really helped me out of a pickle.