Sometimes you just need a morning off, a little time away to regroup and gather yourself, especially after a non-stop week, in which time has been so strained, you haven’t had any self-time at all. I had planned in advance to spend an evening with my best friend Anna, so the time was already allocated. I hadn’t yet seen her new abode, and it had been a long time since I had journeyed to see her in Torre.
Even the trip to the train station was a rush. Having just left work, I sprinted for the only bus which would give me enough time to reach the station, buy a ticket, and get to the platform before the train departed. Needless to say, 30 minutes at rush hour on a Friday, is a challenge. Missing the ideal bus by minutes, I resigned myself to catching the latertrain. I would like to say this came down to good practice – acceptance and tranquil abiding – but actually, I think I was so exhausted, my body couldn’t summon the energy to react negatively. I waited at the stop in the rain, not really thinking at all. The bus arrived just a few minutes off time, and the roads were still heavy with traffic as workers hurried home to start their weekends.
Even on the bus, I didn’t really engage with time. “I’ll get there when I get there” became my running mantra. Not once did I check the time, instead keeping my attention on the drops of rain racing across the window. The service was busy, but the noise simply didn’t reach me. The landscape passed, but until I recognised my proximity to my destination, I barely registered anything at all.
When I arrived at the station, I took a quick glance at the time, and had to double take. Somehow, I had beaten the train by ten minutes. Hurry hurry a-go-go. It may seem like plenty of time, but purchasing tickets can be lengthy depending on how the machines are functioning and the queue, and train stations can be crowded, making passing through the gates more complicated than necessary. Ten minutes can be eaten away without much progression, and then there’s actually getting to the platform and catching the carriage before the doors are locked in preporation for departure.
So when I say ‘hurry hurry a-go-go’, I mean it.
Luckily, there was no queue for the automated ticket purchase, and once I had fumbled through the process of typing out the name of my destination (a surprisingly tricky part of a travel plan), I still had six minutes left to get my behind on the train. I scanned the departure boards before going through the gates, logging the platform number – 7… Pretty much as far as you can go. Once through, I fast walked through the connecting tunnel, and up the steps. Made it!
However, the train wasn’t there. When I checked the screen, wondering if it had been delayed, I noticed the arrival time was another hour, whichdidn’t make any sense given it was running to schedule.
I was on the wrong platform. In my haste to get to the train, I had read the wrong timetable. The actual train was on platform five, which I could see from where I was standing across two sets of tracks. The train had arrived and was boarding, and I have three minutes to get to it via the tunnel, before it left me behind.
I hurtled back down the stairs, dodging people as they came past, my whole body set on making the train. My feet pounded against the underground as I hurried toward the correct set of stairs, willing the train to stay put long enough for me to jump aboard.
No sooner had I hopped on, than the conductor stepped out to begin closing the doors. As the whistle sounded, I fell into an empty seat at the end of the carriage, and joyously text Anna to confirm I was on my way. As I was carried to my destination, I took out my book, but found I didn’t have the energy to process the words, so I watched the dark world outside, letting the stress of the past ten minutes melt away with the steady rumble of the tracks.
Time can be such a strange thing; within the space of thirty minutes I had experienced both a perseaved increase and decrease in clock rate depending on my mind set and how eager I was to outgun it. On the bus, when minutes lost their importance, I was comfronted with more time than I needed, despite suspecting seconds passed too soon. At the station, during my mad dash, every moment felt half as short. In both instances, time was going at exactly the same pace. In a weird way I was in control of how much time I had; it all came down to how much I decided to panic about it.