I thought this was a paint by numbers train with just one number
This is a free post from The Real Sarah Miller. Like this? Want to pay for it? You can! It is free but I do appreciate and more importantly respect it when those who read and have the means subscribe.
If you are used to garbage trains in the United States, Amtrak/BART/NYC subway/Metro North/NJT, the difference between normal and first class trains they have in Switzerland is not noticeable.
I took a train from Zurich to Geneva in February, and I didn’t even know I was in first class until I was 2/3 of the way into the trip and the train guy asked for my ticket and I handed it to him and he started yelling at me. I told him I had no idea I was in first class. He thought I was lying. A scary pad and pen materialized. “Look at the seats, they all have a big “1” on the headrests. You are going to tell me you didn’t notice this,” he said, a real detective, and I said I had noticed the giant “1” but that I had no idea what it meant. This is true. I remember thinking “These seats all have a giant “1” on the headrests. How odd,” before I sat down and started working and didn’t look up again until this guy started yelling at me.
He snorted, but he was smiling, but he was not at all nice, or through with me. His happiness was pure cruel delight, he had caught someone lying about their perception of giant numbers. “This is not true,” he said.
“‘It’s 100 percent true,” I said. “You just live here. This is normal to you. Did you ever think, ‘Hey, wow, we have to mark our first class seats with a giant “1” on the headrest. Maybe it looks a lot like coach?’”
It seemed that I had convinced him not to give me a ticket, which was good. He escorted me to coach and as I sat down in a seat that seemed the same as the old one with, additionally, what seemed like the same amount of space, I said, “See, this looks exactly the same. Exactly. Don’t tell me this looks different.”
A few months later, I was back in Geneva. For the duration of my trip I managed to behave myself and stick to the old coach class (I had kind of forgotten about the whole thing) until the night I was flying out. I made the ten-minute walk from my hotel to Cornavin Station with my small rolling bag, small backpack and handbag. I bought a ticket from a machine and then had to run for the train to the airport, there was another coming in 15 or so minutes, but just to be safe time-wise I wanted to make this one.
As soon as I boarded the doors shut and it was at this moment that I saw the giant “1” on every seat, and I gasped and thought, OH GOD NO WHAT HAVE I DONE and I tried to walk to another lesser, “shittier” train car but it wasn’t possible to switch cars. “No, no, no,” I lamented, aloud, and at this point, naturally, a ticket-taker approached and asked for my first class ticket. I was the only person in first class, because who buys a first class ticket to travel the six minutes from Cornavin to the airport? “I was running for the car and got on the wrong car,” I said to the ticket collector.
He sniffed. The scary pad and pen made their appearance. “I saw you! You were running down the platform, and you ran past the other car to get on the first class car.”
I laughed out loud, because that was not what had happened. He was making this up entirely. I had reached the top of the stairs and seen two entrances, each about the same distance away. One entrance was behind me, it would have meant changing direction, and my momentum, so I settled on the one in my path and jumped on. I hadn’t paused, it was a split-second decision. I was just your basic oblivious rushing traveler.
“What are you talking about?” I said. “I never ran down the platform. I ran up the stairs and jumped into a car. So, you made that up, but also, I don’t live in Switzerland. Your first class trains and your regular trains look exactly the same to me. Do you know what our trains look like? You don’t want to know! No American alive would feel the need to take any of your first class trains on purpose, it just wouldn’t happen, so, if you ever see an American or really anyone from any country except maybe like, I don’t know, Monaco, on a first-class train, without the right ticket, you can pretty much know it’s a mistake.”
“Alright, alright,” he said, putting away his scary pad. “It is fine for today!” I sat down for the rest of the 90 seconds of the train ride, glad he was gone but still mad that he had either lied about or hallucinated how I ended up in first class. You know what’s really sad is that this is probably going to happen to me again and one day they aren’t going to put away the scary pad and whatever the fine is will wipe me out financially. It’s probably around 2000 CHF, which is like 9 million dollars.