I had heard the Italian rail service is unreliable, but after 25 minutes I found myself wondering if, perhaps, we had boarded the wrong train. Squinting out of the window, I could just see the departure sign, it still read: Genoa 12.20pm. More at ease, I leant back into my seat, staring across the grey plastic table at Nadia. My newfound travel companion seemed oblivious to the delay, her attention fixated on the Rubik’s Cube–one eye on the cube, the other on a set of instructions. Every now and then her hands came to life, manipulating the cube in series of jerky movements, reminding me of the brass mimes at Covent Garden.
“Il treno viene soppresso!” someone exclaimed behind me. Passengers began heaving their luggage from the overhead racks and shuffling toward the carriage exit. You didn’t need to speak Italian to realise the train had been cancelled. While Nadia reluctantly packed away her cube, I extricated our luggage from the overhead rack. After shuffling out the carriage door, we joined the procession of passengers dragging their luggage back up the platform, toward customer service.
A rather vocal crowd had already formed outside the office by the time we arrived. At its centre two elderly men squared off in a battle of words, each man hurling abuse at the other, supported by a series of murderous hand gestures. One of the ancient gladiators, adorned in a maroon blazer – the uniform of Trenitalia – appeared to concede defeat, turning his back and walking back toward his office. His adversary launched another onslaught of verbal abuse, prompting him to turn on his heals and re-engage. The crowd jeered, the security guards watched-on, and the two men looked set to come to blows.
Turning to Nadia, I suggested we should rather not bother customer service with our petty troubles. It seemed wiser to purchase new tickets, than risk the wrath of customer service. Locating a more docile Trenitalia employee, a little red ticket machine, we discovered the next train to Genoa would be at 2.20pm. The little machine lit up brightly and happily dispensed two new tickets.
A couple of hours later, as our train rolled out from the shelter of the station into the rain, I wondered to myself: why do people get so worked up over travel delays; after all, the journey is the real adventure.