We set off on our travels today. Bus to Oldham, tram to Manchester Piccadilly, train to London Euston and eventually tube to our son's house. Tomorrow we get up and the crack of dawn and catch a plane to Portugal, hoping that the security measures are not too onerous, bearing in mind everyone's state of mega-alert at the moment.
Our train had barely left Manchester when a young man came along to the train manager's booth, situated just opposite our seats, which is how I came to eavesdrop on the conversation. The young man, who looked little more than 17 or 18, told the train manager that he had just realised that he had left his backpack on a seat on the station forecourt, just outside the entrance to our platform. Her reaction was priceless: she looked at him and calmly asked if he watched the news. No, he replied, sounding rather puzzled.
She did not say that his bag might have been taken away and destroyed, which might very well have happened. Instead she phoned someone at Manchester Piccadilly and explained the situation. The young man described the rucksack, its contents, even the green can of pop in there with his laptop! Wonder of wonders, they found his bag, right where he said he had left it. It's a good job the station was relatively quiet this morning.
The train manager talked options with him: he could collect the bag from Manchester on his return or, if his ticket was flexible enough, she could arrange for it to be put in the next train. His ticket was OK and so she fixed it so that he could get off this train at Stockport, wait for twenty minutes and then hop onto the next train to Euston where his backpack would be waiting for him in the train "shop".
What a very lucky, and rather foolish, young man. How do you manage to leave a backpack with a laptop inside it on a seat on a station forecourt? Having said that, I did once leave a handbag at the bottom of an escalator on the Paris underground. I was not much older than the young man today. And I was as lucky as he was. When I went back down the escalator my bag was sitting there waiting for me! Sometimes things work out right!
These are the experiences that make us learn not to be quite so carefree.
By the way, when did buffet cars become shops? The "shop" was also close to our seats. Looking at it, I noticed that it sold newspapers and magazines as well as sweets and drinks. So perhaps it is more of a shop, after all. Next thing you know, it will be possible to buy the ingredients you need for your evening meal on the train home at the end of a busy day. Forget about working on the commuter train, do the weekly shop on the train as well!