I recently had a surprisingly pleasant travel experience that I simply must share with you.
On departure day, I made my way to the point of embarkation, not by way of a long, expensive, traffic-jam-bedeviled taxi or shuttle or ride-share, but via a ten-block walk along a crowded, but enjoyably animated, city street that included a rather large, energetic, contingent of blazer-and-tie-bedecked young men heading in the opposite direction, lending color and enthusiasm to the experience.
I entered a pleasant but unassuming structure that might have passed for a library, and proceeded, by way of an escalator, to a subterranean level where, with a short walk and an even shorter wait, I was able to engage a polite, businesslike, gentleman for the purchase of a ticket to my destination.
I then proceeded to a point where other travelers had gathered, waiting to be apprised of the precise point of departure for their particular itinerary. There was, among the travelers, an element of anticipation as they waited for the announcement, upon which those to whom it pertained headed, with appropriate dispatch, to the designated point.
I waited patiently — but no more so than my fellow travelers — for the announcement which should apply to my intended destination. When the moment arrived, we proceeded at a brisk pace to our transport.
As we approached the first point of entry thereto, I was tempted to join those streaming in, but was, fortunately, able to avail myself of the counsel of my two fellow-travelers who called upon their extensive experience in precisely this situation. (I apologize for my tardy introduction, but feel that their intervention here, at this crucial point — as if dei-ex-machina — heightens the air of adventure).
They counseled that a more distant point of entry to our conveyance should provide us equally acceptable, less crowded, accommodation.
They were correct. We were able to find comfortable seating in nearly-empty quarters, as we awaited what turned out to be an impressively on-time departure.
At this point, I briefly disengaged myself from my friends to review, not what had happened (for that was pleasantly unadventurous), but what had not happened:
Not needing a boarding pass, I had not fretted over the likelihood that it would not show up on my cellphone upon demand, with fifteen fellow-travelers waiting impatiently behind me;
Not needing to prove that I was who I claimed to be, I had not dropped or inadvertently left behind my driver’s license;
Not having to segregate my gels and liquids from all other objects, I had blithely allowed them to consort with my other toiletries in an old plastic bag whose non-transparency was, thankfully, of no importance. In addition, I had not needed to worry whether my dried-up plug of toothpaste might or might not be classified as a gel, or whether the knitting needle fragment with which I extract it from the tube might or might not be construed as a weapon;
Not having to take off my shoes, I had not worn loafers or sandals, which, without arch-supports, would have left me in considerable pain;
Not having to empty my water bottle, I did not forget to refill it and thus did not risk dehydration.
With these consolations, plus a delightful, relatively quiet chance to talk with my friends and enjoy the passing scenery — and, I should add, the opportunity to keep myself hydrated without the fear that bad weather, and its accompanying Fasten Seat Belt order, might restrict me to a spine-achingly narrow seat, with a growing urinary urgency that could have posed me the dilemma of public embarrassment or flagrant violation of the extant safety protocol — it was, altogether, a delightful, novel, civilized travel experience.
I would recommend it to anyone.
Oh yes, lest I forget, it is called a train.