Wednesday, June 14, 2006

One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back!

Over the last few days i have had trouble finding important stuff due to my room being an absolute mess. It reached a peak when i was going to go to an "employability" event (stuff like how to answer interview questions, what to put on your CV, how to fill in application forms, that sort of thing), and i had to reserve a place on it and pay a deposit by cheque... and i couldn't find my chequebook! That was when I realised i had a bit of a problem, so i gathered up all my work and remaining textbooks (I took some back home when I went to see Morrissey in Oxford, but some remained in the mess of my room) and decided to take them home and make some space here. I staggered down the hill to the station with a very heavy bag of books and work and used a machine in the station to get tickets.
One option seemed almost too good to be true: a cheap day return ticket for £27, via the "Honiton and Southampton" route (a route i hadn't taken before). That was the cheapest so i bought it and hopped onto the first train that went to Honiton. A few minutes later I was there and looked around for something that would tell me when the next train to Southampton would be and which platform it would be from, and I found a timetable that seemed to show that I had to go via Salisbury. The train I had just got off was on its way to Salisbury, but the ticket machine hadn't said anything about Salisbury, so i was a bit confused - should i have stayed on that train or not? why did the machine say Honiton instead of Salisbury? which station should I change at?
I asked the bloke at the ticket desk and he looked at my tickets and went on about them not being valid for that journey and told me i'd have to buy another ticket. I had no idea why he said they weren't valid, as they covered my whole journey and they'd been checked by staff at Exeter station when i bought them. He said something about what day they were valid on, then noticed the date on them and said they were valid for today after all, and then he went on about some other reason for them not being valid for the whole journey, like i'd used up the outward ticket (I had travelled less than 25 miles, and the outward ticket was for a 165-mile journey!) and for some reason that meant that i couldn't use the return ticket either except for getting back to Exeter. I really don't know what the problem was, and i half suspect that he was just trying to get money out of me (the ticket home that he said i had to buy was more expensive than the one i had bought...). I know that there are a lot of conditions attached to train tickets, like if you pay £X you can get from A to B but if you pay £Y you can go from A to B via C but only between time D and time E on day F, but there suddenly seemed to be a lot more conditions attached to my ticket than there had been when I'd bought it. I think he might have been making it up in an attempt to supplement his measly wages. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd said that my ticket was only valid when Venus was in Capricorn or something like that. Actually, he probably did say that.
I felt like punching him - now I understand why ticket people are protected from the public by a window! I gave up and asked if I was able to go anywhere with my tickets, and eventually he answered that i could use my return ticket to go back to Exeter. So i did. I suppose i could have tried sneaking onto the next train to Salisbury when he wasn't looking and go home that way, but Honiton Station is hardly a hive of activity: there weren't crowds to slip into, and the next train for Salisbury wasn't for at least another hour. The next train to Exeter was a few minutes later so i got that - I just wanted to get the hell out of Honiton as soon as possible! When i got back to Exeter, i considered getting on another train home (and changing at the right station this time!), but by then i was tired (my luggage weighed a ton and didn't have wheels... if only there had been a supermarket nearby, then i could have "borrowed" a shopping trolley...) and the only thing i felt like doing was drowning my sorrows :o(
I was not in a brilliant mood, but then i saw a couple of things on the train back to Exeter that cheered me up: a stranger smiling, and the familiar sights of my current "home" (I saw Holland Hall, Duryard's rival hall of residence, shining (it's all shiny and new and reflects the sunlight, unlike the dull old (but much-loved) "Dirty-Yard" Halls) in the hills, surrounded by trees... it looked like the HOLLYWOOD sign!). Then, on the struggle up the hill, i met my mate Claire, who helped me carry my stuff home... what a star! :o)
I didn't go binge-drinking after all; there was an Archery Soc social that i thought about going to (I signed up to tons of societies in Freshers' Week, but Archery ended up being one of the only ones i regularly attended... well, not really "regularly", more like "sporadically", but that's a lot more often than some of the other societies i signed up for) but didn't bother (i was a bit too tired from lugging so much luggage about), and instead had a quiet drink in The Welly with football (Germany v Poland) and friendly faces (including regulars Gareth and Big Mark, who are such regulars that they probably secretly live in there, most likely behind the quiz machine that Gareth seems to spend his entire student loan on). It may be a complete tip, it may be crumbling and barely habitable, it may have dodgy lighting, leaky rooves and asbestos in the walls (and in a lot of rooms, no paint or plaster on the walls!), and it may be miles from my family and permanent address... but for now, Duryard is my home.

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