I really enjoy Bath. Of course, I have two lovely friends living there that I enjoy visiting so that makes it easy to love any city but Bath is especially nice. Yu Kyoung and I woke up late. This isn’t really unusual but it is inconvenient when you have a train to catch.
Luckily we were smart enough to pack the night before so it was a quick shower for both of us and then a mild jog to the tube station. A quick calculation showed that we had eleven stations to go and just about thirty minutes to do it in. We both guessed that there was no way we would make it so we settled in to our seats on the Bakerloo line and dreamed of eating breakfast.
Around twenty minutes later, we arrive at London Paddington! Amazing. I’m used to the Northern Line where a trip of a few hundred feet can take hours so the breakneck speed, reducing your definition of fast accordingly for London, of the Bakerloo Line astonished me. We split duties upon arrival at Paddington. I was responsible for locating the platform for our train and Yu Kyoung was responsible for collecting our tickets.
My task should have been quite simple. I walk over to an array of computer monitors and find the one for my train. It displays the final destination of the train, the departure time for this station, and the platform number. This is straightforward if you know the final destination of your train. I wasn’t sure. So I have to read the list of stations that the train stops at during its journey. This used to be quite easy because there were large mechanical boards that showed every station that every train visited and you simply scanned the easy to read large print and found your train. Now we’ve introduced technology to make our lives easier so you have to squint at a monitor and wait while it alternates between up to five pages of information. Of course, you now have to keep all of that information in your head between page turns and piece it back together. Just for a little bit of extra fun, when a train departs they shift all of the displays to the left. The problem is that you are used to looking at the contents of the screen change so if you are slightly confused, as I was, then you might not notice that you are now looking at the incorrect train, as I was.
I had twelve minutes to accomplish my task and even incompetence on both my part and the part of the person who designed the new and improved information system couldn’t slow me down enough to stretch this activity out to the full alloted time. I determined that we were to head to platform one and then went to find Yu Kyoung and see how she was doing on her task.
Her job was mainly to stand in a queue while being in a hurry. One of those really fun activities in life. As I was walking over, her turn came up and she started the process to collect our tickets. She hands me her luggage, inserts her card, enters a confirmation number and is ready to grab out tickets and leave when her phone rings. Sadly, Yu Kyoung is like many people in today’s world and feels she has to answer her phone when it rings. This means that as she steps away to answer it, I’m stuck with bags in both hands, a backpack, and a queue of impatient people behind me. While I applaud her politeness in stepping away from the crowd to have her conversation, it didn’t do much for our impending deadline of train departure. I manage to shuffle some things around, mutter some angry words in Yu Kyoung’s direction, mutter some apologetic words in the queue’s direction, collect the tickets and push Yu Kyoung in the general direction of our train.
We made the train and I made fun of Yu Kyoung just enough that she knew I wasn’t truly angry but also that she knew it was my kind heart that kept me from exploding!
Before long we were gently rocking back and forth, as one does on British trains, and heading in the general direction of Bath.
Note: Sorry that there aren’t any photos. The software I use is a bit crap and I’m having some issues publishing at the moment.