Monday, January 26, 2009

Trains, trains and trains

I always arrive three to four minutes early to catch my train to work. Either the train is sitting on the track, ready for an exceptionally punctual departure. Or, the train is not sitting on the track. ::big sigh:: It will probably be five minutes late. Or ten. Or twenty. Or more.

I arrive to the station today to see no train. Everyone is standing around looking like they don't care. About five minutes after the train was supposed to have left, there is an announcement. The train departing from track 35 towards Valmondois will depart in 20 minutes. Everyone still looks like they don't care. Don't these people have places to be at on time? I am annoyed and call the school's director to tell her I will be late for class.

"It's always the same story with the train," I tell her. Because I was late on Friday for the exact same reason. "You've got the worst luck," she tells me. "See you soon."

I don't consider trains being on time a matter of luck. Later, when I apologize again to the director and the teacher whose class got cut short, they tell me not to worry about it. "I know this line, it always has problems," says the director knowlingly. "C'est la France," shrugs the teacher.

I try to explain to them that this excuse would never fly in the states. This is how it works: work starts at XX:XX time. Be to work at XX:XX time. Late train once? Okay. Late train twice? Yeah right.

The school doesn't seem to care about the late train situation, but I can't help that I do. I feel like it reflects on my own punctuality, my own reliability. I vow to take the 30-minutes-earlier train. If it is late, then I will be on time for work.

I still feel bad about being late when I leave school. I arrive to the station to take the train home when I realize the next three trains to Paris are supprimé (canceled). Oh come on. Are you serious? No explanation really, just a bunch of people standing around. Unlike this morning, these people look disgruntled. Three canceled trains is a little ridiculous, even for France.

I am about to get really pissed when an surprise train towards Paris comes from nowhere. No anouncement or anything. I assume it is going to Paris because trains to Paris go that way. Fortunately, I am correct. All right then. I forgive you, train. You have kind of redeemed yourself.

As I am leaving the train station to catch the metro home, I receive a handbill explaining that there were electrical problems today. I am kind of happy to have an explanation, even though it doesn't matter anymore. And honestly I don't feel that bad about being late for work anymore. Just because, well c'est la France.

1 comment:

Marni said...

the Germans loved explaining things like that...

"So ist das Leben, ja."
(that's life)


That explains a lot.

A train would never be late in Germany though. One min past the expected time and there would but a demonstration. But afterward, the story would be the same; "So ist das Leben."