Wednesday, June 25, 2014

But you are not Sarah

"Passport, please?" the train attendant asks as I hand over my German rail pass.  That's weird, I think, this is the first time they've asked for a passport. 

Last week, Sarah decided to forgo the Munich/Salzburg weekend and head to Paris with some other ladies in our group, since she's never been to Paris.

As I reached for my passport, I whispered to Michelle to pull out the train seat reservation ticket (with 4 seat reservations, to prove that Sarah really does exist as a member of our group of 4).

Handing over my passport, I told the train attendant that our 2-person ticket has Sarah's name on it, but she's not here because she went to Paris instead (which the German rail pass doesn't help with).  I show her the reservation ticket to prove there were four people.  

Reservations for 4 people on this train

She responded "why do you have Sarah's ticket?"  Heidi, sitting next to me, repeated my statement. 

"I realize you are not Sarah, but you have her ticket," the lady says. (English barrier or attitude? We'll never know)

The train ticket Sarah and I have been using together for almost 4 weeks, no problems until now

"When we got the tickets originally, they never put both names on it."

"This is a problem." Yes, yes, we understand...

Mouths probably open, we sit there for a few seconds.

"Well, what should we do?" Heidi demands. 

"At the next train stop, you have to go to the service station and talk to them about Sarah's ticket."

We start to freak out inside, since we had reservations on this train and don't want the disasterous adventure of having to figure out a new train...

"At the next stop?" which is not where we intended to get off the train.

"At Essen, when you get off," the attendant replies. Sighs of relief.

When the attendant is no longer within earshot, Heidi, Michelle and I start to chit chat, so happy that this is the last day of use on the 10-day rail pass, knowing we won't have to worry about it after we get off this train!

Today is this ticket's 10th and final day of use

Five minutes later, the train attendant comes back to our seats and asks me to follow her up toward the front of our train car.  Oh no!!! 

"I spoke with the chief of the train, and he says that this is Sarah's ticket.  You have to go to the service station and buy a new ticket from Munich to Essen at the next train stop.  Or, talk to them about getting your name added onto the ticket."

"I am traveling in a group of 10 people, and all five tickets only have one name on them, even though the DB was told all the names.  Why would there only be one name on the ticket?"

There is still space for my name. Why is it not on here...

"This is Derr Sarah.. Sarah's have to go to the service station and buy a new ticket from Munich to Essen at the next train stop, with your name on it."

I rephrase my question: "When we first got these tickets, the DB knew we were the two names on this ticket. Why wouldn't they put both names on the ticket?"

"I don't know, but you need your name on this ticket. If not, you will have problem in the future"....she reaches over and looks at the ticket..."oh this is your last day." Yes, it is...

She starts clicking some buttons on her handheld DB device.  I remain confused, wondering how Heidi will get me out of this mess if I go tell the girls I need to buy another ticket...

"It is 115 Euro for a ticket from Munich to Essen." She looks at me. There has to be some number on here indicating this ticket is NOT ONLY SARAH'S TICKET!  

I see a number on the front, thinking this might be a passport number. Not mine. 

I flip the train ticket over and fold it open. " Ashley Artmann " !!!!!!  Never have I been so happy to see my name!! (Well, a close second :) )

Other side of the ticket...

So happy to see my name!

The train attendant grabs my (now she believes me) train ticket and passport- "Hold on," - and walks up toward the chief. 

I hurry back to the seats for a minute.  "Where's your ticket? Look at the back!" I say to Heidi and Michelle.  Michelle's full name and passport number are on the back. 

As the train attendant makes her way back, she says "the chief says this is okay" and hands me my ticket and passport, adding in a couple "sorry"s.  Whew. 

Relieved that we won't be giving Josh a heart attack, we discuss the situation and the fact that it was a good thing I flipped over the ticket!  (And it's an extremely good thing my passport number wasn't assessed too carefully, as I received my renewed passport 2 weeks pre-departure, and the train ticket which was bought over 3 months ago, has my old passport number on it.)

Sometimes, you just have to try harder to see things from another angle.