Missing a train is one of the biggest frustrations on earth. Missing a flight is bad, sure, but you generally don’t have the chance to run right alongside a jet as it taxis along the runway, banging at the door as it’s preparing to bolt. I’ve got a good record on catching connections. I have an innate, constant sense of panic for days before I travel and usually show up to the airport/station hours before it’s necessary, just to be sure.
London, however, runs on a different rhythm. I usually traverse Amsterdam by bike or tram, and Amsterdam is also about the size of a small coaster compared to London so it doesn’t count.
Last night, I left a wonderful dinner at St. John in Spitalfields, strolled to Liverpool Street Station at about 12.30, confident that the tube was running until 1.
The sheer panic of realizing you are in a foreign city with no idea where the nearest nightbus is and no way of contacting pals (due to a massive phone failure) is immense. I walked outside, debating whether to start walking back to my hotel or wander until I found a bus but I saw a black cab approaching, seeing me flailing a bit, and she pulled in to the kerb. I explained that I’d missed the tube, did not have anywhere enough money to get a black cab but asked if she could point me in the right direction of a bus.
“Sweetheart! Don’t be silly. Get in, sit back, I’ll take you back to your door and it’ll be no more than 15 pounds, alright? It’s a horrible feeling to really need a cab. Get in, we’ll sort it out and don’t worry for a second.”
Cue me and Kerry the London Cabbie having the world’s greatest craic driving through a rainy night discussing our families, jobs, travels and favorite books. She told me about her son in Bangkok and how much he loves Southeast Asia, I told her about my life in Phnom Penh. We talked about the difficulty of holding on to friendships when moving around so much, how important people become the older you get. An hour later I got out of the cab, utterly buoyed by having had such a wonderful encounter.
I’ll never again worry about a missed connection. It’ll always, from now on, offer the chance to open a more interesting door. Thanks for a wonderful time London. You never let me down.