Charged: Attendants on the Overnight Train

This is a new thing I’m starting on the site. Typically I try to write in a way so there’s something that you can learn from our experiences, but starting today (and every Thursday) I’ll be sharing a brief story from the road. No message, no lesson, no direction in particular, just a fun little anecdote about our travels.

Today’s story comes from the Paris to Venice overnight train.

Power Up

As you know I was working during our trip. For 22 days I pecked away at my 13″ Macbook Pro knocking out websites with ease. Well there were a couple hurdles, but for being in foreign countries 4,000 miles from home I have to say it went pretty smoothly. But enough about that I’ll write more about working from the road next week.

So we get on the train and I start plugging away at the latest site. After working outside in front of the Eiffel Tower for several hours during the day and then partially recharging in the train station, I only had about a 75% battery charge which was going to get me about 4.5 hours of work time. Lucky for me there was an outlet in the train car. Unlucky for me, it didn’t work.

So I kept working as the battery life dropped and dropped. By the time that it was just under an hour remaining it was already pitch black outside and the other riders in our room were just climbing into their beds to start getting ready to sleep. Being a night person I was going to be up for a while still so I “pressed” the call button next to the non-working outlet. I throw quotes on pressed because it didn’t really seem to do anything, although it looked like a button that would click when pressed it didn’t. So like anyone who’s ever pressed TV remote buttons harder when the batteries are low, I simply pressed hard and hoped for the best.

In the Nick of Time

The hour went on and there was no sign of our train attendant actually coming to our room. By this time everyone else had fallen sound asleep and I was just about to shut down and pack up the laptop when someone finally showed up. He taps on the door, I unlock it and proceed to explain the trouble.

Me: Do you know if there’s a trick to getting this outlet to work?

Him: Huh?!

Me: When I plug in the converter the little green light doesn’t turn on. I plugged the laptop in too in just in case the light wasn’t working, but no luck.

Him: Um, I’m from Border Patrol

Me: [Blank stare]

That’s when I glance down and through the darkness of our room realize that this man is not wearing a train attendant uniform, but a police uniform, gun and all, with his partner standing outside our window. Oops! I didn’t have to be a mind reader to see exactly what he was thinking at that moment. I’m certain it was, “Idiot” 🙂

Sleep Tight

Well I guess my ridiculous questions were enough to be completely overlooked as the suspect they were after. He proceeded to point to Marla who was sleeping in front of me and asked if she was with me. I said yes. He looked at the sleeping Italian gentlemen in the bunk above me, didn’t disrupt him, but then saw the black gentleman sleeping in the bunk across and proceeded to shine a flashlight right in his eyes, shake him and abruptly wake him up.

At this point they were both feverishly questioning the man about where he was from, where he was going and where his luggage was. After a minute or two of questioning they left him alone and proceeded to the next room where I watched as they pulled a woman out of the room (figuratively not literally) and rifled through her bags. Although they didn’t find whatever it is that they were looking for and let her go back to sleep, I’m sure the shock of the whole situation was not pleasant.

In general we weren’t fans of the overnight (can’t) sleeper train and probably will stick to a cheap RyanAir flight for future long distance European country to country travel, but the one benefit of taking this train is that I now have a story to tell. “Jeff looking like an idiot in front of Border Patrol.” Fun times 🙂

Have you ever said or done something silly on a trip that looking back just makes you laugh? Let us know in the comments.