At 6:04 yesterday morning it was still pitch black at the Nancy train station, and there was a chill in the air as I gaped at the shuttle schedule which listed two morning shuttle services to the Lorraine TGV station: 5:05 and 8:50. My direct train to the airport was at 7:14. The schedule had changed March 1.
A rucksack-weighted jog under the train platforms, two or three flustered, wailing French conversations with train conductors, and 42 Euros later, I was watching the sunrise on the alternate train to the airport, by way of Paris, listening to Bob Marley and eating an apple with only the slightest hint of agitation.
For years I’ve said that travel is good for the soul because it makes even the most uptight people (see: I once ruined my own anniversary picnic by spending the whole day furious with myself for forgetting drinks) let loose and accept that not everything can go as planned. However, since I arrived in France my stategic management of life has been fading at an alarming rate.
I forget to print out train tickets and boarding passes.
I don’t read the fine print.
I don’t look up terminal numbers.
I nap alone in public places.
I don’t look up addresses or on maps.
I didn’t bring any ID with me as collateral (or for body identification) when skiing.
I went into the desert with two male guides and forgot to leave contact information.
While most of my oversights have only cost me money and pride, I’m beginning to wonder if this is going to end up being a permanent change. Do other people who live and work overseas for extended periods of time become so nonchalant about danger and planning that they could actually be putting themselves in trouble at times? Based on the difference between my uncle’s reaction and mine when his SUV got a bolt in the tire 15 km from our destination in Egypt, I would say yes. We looked at it, he got back in the car, and continued telling jokes. I braced myself for the end.
I think it’s time to set some guidelines, or at least to think about all the cheese I could have bought with those 42 Euros.