The TGV a glorious train

suzanne and nick clayton.jpg

MAY 2006, Somehow in France the availability of all the trains and especially the TGV make it feel like distances are very short and all travel is easily done. One day in May we had a great visit from a friend (Nick) whom I hadn’t seen in a few years who was visiting Paris for a few days. He emailed me and said could he come visit and how long would it take. Before I knew it he called from the train telling me he caught the 9:30 train and would be in Nimes at 12:00. Two and half hours on the TGV which is usually an eight hour car ride seemed so easy. After a variety of hugs and exclamations on how good we all looked we drove back to Uzes for lunch.

In between carting Zoe-Pascale to Poney and dance class we talked and caught up on both old, new, personal and political news. Our ongoing dialogue only stopped when he saw the Poney Zoe was riding was really a different animal and not a small horse. You can tell he was a city boy!

After one more glass of wine (not me I was the driver) and final goodbyes to Jean, Zoe and Pantoufle, we left St. Quentin-la-Poterie at 7:25 to catch the 8pm train. A friend of mine told me recently that there are two kinds of people. One type who is early to everything and believes that is the only way to be and the other type who is more casual and usually makes appointments on time but often without a moment to spare. When two types get together anxiety surfaces and conflict can erupt from time to time. The early group often believes they are morally right and the later group is rude. The later group believes the early birds are uptight and worry about everything and don’t enjoy the journey. Luckily Nick and I were both on the relaxed side of the table.

Not knowing how far we actually had to go, I didn’t want to worry Nick, but casually asked; “What’s our contingency plan if you don’t make it? But I think we will. Here’s what I think you should do, I will pull up at the door and you run upstairs to the train and don’t even stop to buy a ticket. On the train act like you didn’t know you were suppose to buy a ticket before getting on the train and hopefully they won’t fine you. I’ll wait until 8:10 to make sure you get on the train.”

With one last quick hug, he flew like an eagle and I never saw him again. A few days later he emailed that they made him clean the toilets because he didn’t buy a ticket before getting on the train. (just kidding).

It made me appreciate once again some of the best things about France – their train system. No security to go through, on-time schedules, lots of room for your legs, palatable food to buy, use of cell phones in special compartments, and most importantly no need to get there too early.

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Suzanne Saxe-Roux