Last night I watched the Ladies Artistic Gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. To travel home required two trains; one into Central station followed by a second (the last train) out to my home area.
Being in Central station late at night brought back memories of the last time I caught that same train home. While last night I noticed and detested the whiff of booze and fast food coming from bars and the great unwashed, the previous time I was much less aware of such nuances. Dangerously so.
I had arranged to meet a friend in the city centre which was mutually convenient. We arrived on different trains from different directions and would travel home this way too.
We weren't particularly close friends but kept in touch and hey, it was an excuse for a night out.
We met in a wine bar where we had 2 bottles of wine and a few scant, over priced snacks. She drinks very little and that night was no exception. I drank a lot and did so that night too.
At 11pm we headed back to the station and went our separate ways. I had had a busy day at work and I was tired. I dozed off slightly near the beginning of the journey home and when I awoke at a stop a couple of ladies were looking at me sympathetically and smiling. I stretched and yawned remarking on how exhausted I was, always on the go.
They left the train, leaving me in the carriage alone. The rhythmic movement of the quiet, warm train on the tracks quickly caused me to doze off again.
I woke up when the train stopped. No one was around and all the train doors were open. Groggy from sleep, I got out and realised the train had reached the end of the line, 2 stops further on than the station at which I should have dismounted.
I walked up to the driver's cab at the front of the train.
'I think I've missed my stop. Can you drop me off there on your way back?' I asked him trying to muster some self respect from somewhere.
No, he couldn't. The train was not making any more journeys that night. The timetable was complete.
I was in the middle of nowhere, alone, drunk, at midnight, with no idea where I was or how to get home.
However, only a few seconds later the driver appeared to change his mind and although angry, he told me to get back in the carriage while raging about the trouble he would be in if found out. I suspect he felt vulnerable alone, with a drunk girl, and enjoyed the protection from accusations afforded by his cabin. Perhaps he felt sorry for me.
Either way he drove the train back to my station. I fought to keep my eyes open this time and got out of the train as he quickly pulled away again without so much as a wave.
I called a taxi to take me home from the station and waited in the cold, dark, windy car park while it arrived.
I paid the fare and when home, ate lots of breakfast cereal, staggered to bed trying to cause minimal disruption to the household and hunkered down under the duvet, trying to hide from the inevitable monster hangover that would soon be arriving.
Was it worth it?
What do you think?
Suddenly, last night, I was counting my blessings that I was not in a similar state to that last time. I was pleased to be clear, on the ball, aware of crowds, pick pockets, undesirables. I was a little cold and impatient for the train to arrive but I had my wits about me, felt a true physical tiredness and happily looked forward to going home to bed, without any drama.