Friday, 16 April 2010

Coming in threes: Phones, Tickets and Volcanoes

No excuses, I know it has been a long time again, but I got presented with some unexpected time on my hands today, all a bit strange really

I'm writing this sitting on a train from Paris to Zurich. Why is that odd?

Well normally I fly because the 5-7 hours on the train (even when it is much more comfortable) doesn't compare to the 1.5 hour flight (I know I should be more green), but today flying was not an option and it all has do do with an Icelandic Volcano.

This was the finale (I hope) to an eventful business trip to Paris.
On Wednesday afternoon I flew to Paris from Zurich. Carol dropped me at the railway station and I immediately realised I had forgotten my phone (Handy / Natel / Mobile or whatever your local cultural pet name for a GSM phone is) and it was too late to go back. In the ensuing culture panic, where all my usual phone based business trip management went out of the window (or rather got left on the shelf in the home office), I forgot to punch my train ticket on the only day this century there was a guard on the airport train. After trying to do a cat from shrek eyes expression to the guard and consequently making people throw up all around me, he forgave me because I think he realised I had become severely disabled without a handy (the favourite Swiss culture nickname), or was it just severely disabled for no reason at all?

This covered two of a set of magic "three things" and after getting to the airport and flying safely with all luggage intact I tried to convince myself that the incident with the Taxi driver almost taking the life of a motorcyclist by pulling out about three inches (75cm) in front of him was number three.

Of course this was a very stupid thought because this is actually an hourly occurrence for any Paris Taxi driver and an almost every 10 minute occurrence for every Parisen motorcyclist (you can draw your own conclusions on the statistical accuracy).

Thankfully I arrived at the Paris office without further incident and after a couple of hours work (its apparently called business when you are not a resident of the state in which you are er...doing stuff, but it feels like work to me) I left with a good friend and colleague to a restaurant and on to his home concluding very pleasant evening with him and his wife.

Before going to bed my friend lent me a spare phone he had (we all seem to have spares nowadays) and therefore enabling a good good nights sleep to be had. Perhaps I should change the pet name to "Teddy".

When Thursday's travel and business went by without any events, except for those that were planned, I thought I had escaped the dreaded 3, but then the I rang up Carol (no, that wasn't the 3, tut - silly) and after exchanging all of the really exciting events of our respective days Carol happened to mention some problems at Zurich airport she had just heard on the radio but she hadn't quite caught the cause.

So I quickly googled (thank goodness you can Google without teddy otherwise I would have a had a nervous breakdown), and discovered that all of northern Europe's airports were gradually closing down, and why, A VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN ICELAND....

Of course Charles de Gaulle was closing, the airport not the man (well actually he is already closed) so I quickly phoned the emergency number of our corporate travel service to organise something. Interestingly, but quite obviously, the emergency service was on hold. Well what do you expect, there was actually an emergency going on.

OK supreme being I got it, but did you have to make it quite so bizarre. No 3 really must have arrived! Combining a double whammy as stopping me going home as planned and stopping me from being home for Joss's birthday tomorrow.


So hear I am sitting on a train traveling across France on my way to Switzerland in, perhaps, one of the last seats available today and writing this bizarre little story thanks to Jose and his deft manipulation the SNCF web site last night.

One plus is that given this rather pleasant rail experience, despite the packed train and those incessant teddy ring tones, I might take the Green option more often (First class of course)

So there go the three horseman of the apocalypse... Something funny with that somehow.

And the moral of the story?
Er... don't forget your phone when there is Volcanic activity in Iceland?...

Or maybe ..."When there is an emergency all you need are friends"...
a bit soppy, but better I think.

p.s 18th April : Maybe 3 was the godawful cold I caught.

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