Can you recall a time when you missed an important train or bus? You run as fast as you can but still, the door closes in your face. I almost experienced one of those moments on my return trip home from Montreal. How I avoided this disaster is an example of what happens when you accept the situation with optimism.
It was Pride Week when I visited with my best friend Yessi. We arrived at a long pedestrian street, with strings of pink balls stretched horizontally over our heads. It was a bustling street with locals and visitors shuffling in and out of colourful boutique shops. The smell of freshly baked pastries filled the air. The weather was pleasant throughout the weekend, which enabled us to bike along the waterfront, go jazz bar hopping during the evenings and try out different types of poutine. There was the classic type – thick gravy with cheese curds drizzled on top of hand cut fries. Then we got really adventurous with our toppings: we had minced beef with jalapeno and cheese, tomato sauce over various herbs, braised pork, and if you are a sweet tooth, maple syrup.
A combination of poor planning and having way too much fun led to us packing up and leaving for the train later than we should have. Standing at the subway platform, we checked the clock for the first time. The train was departing in less than 20 minutes. The subway was going to take 35. Yessi and I looked at each other and both jumped at the next viable option: “Uber.”
The Montreal streets were peaceful, but we were full of anxiety. We ran from the subway to the streets, desperately looking for Wifi. Despite our best efforts, our luggage slowed us down. Just when we did succeed, our phones ran out of batteries. Our train was departing in less than 12 minutes.
At that point, a pessimistic voice took over my mind:
Give up, Helen. There’s no way you will make that train. Just look at the series of events that happened. If you don’t figure out a way to get back to work tomorrow, you might be close to losing your job. How about car rentals?
The next thing I knew, a cab arrived before us. While I was occupied with my thoughts, Yessi was found a solution through her travel guide. Without much time to register the situation, I followed her into the cab.
“Sir, our train is departing in less than 7 minutes. Can you please hurry?”
The cab driver looked up at the rear mirror, “Ladies, I will do my best but with this traffic I can’t guarantee much.”
Our outlook was looking gloom so I pitched my car rental idea to Yessi. It was immediately dismissed.
“We can still make it Helen. Now is not the time to get distracted.”
I was not convinced. With less than 3 minutes until departure, our cab was consistently hitting red lights.
Another red light. Except this time, we felt an unusual impact. As I turned around to my passenger window, I caught sight of a girl in her late 20s. She was knocking frantically knocking while carrying a red bag pack that looked so heavy that it made her lean over. Before we had time to react, the girl was pushing her bag onto the seat and squeezing herself in. Yet another incident that got in the way. Yes, we were anxious but also curious. After a brief conversation, this girl happened to be catching the same train as us. What a coincident.
What happened next still feels unreal. The cab driver dropped us off at the exact departure time. We followed each other up a series of stairs, down a linear hall pushing against waves of other passengers. To our surprise, the train was still in sight as we made our way to the platform. The ticket staff was signalling for take off. We hurried along, the doors closing seconds behind us.
Looking out from the moving train, a wave of relief came over the three of us. Our new best friend, the other girl in the cab, breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Honestly, if I hadn’t met the two of you, i wouldn’t have made the train. We now have a story to tell.”
An important lesson is to be learned here. Had both Yessi and I given up hope and rented a car, we would have definitely missed the train. But instead, with the help of a Montreal cab driver and an unknown women with her bright red backpack, we defied every expectation and made the train. As a result, I didn’t get fired and didn’t have to break the bank for a car rental – all because we accepted the situation as it was but never gave up.