Stages Of Catching A Train As A Maltese Person
Trains don't form part of present-day Maltese public transport – and because of this every Maltese person experiences an involuntary and handicapping sense of rapture when they are abroad and need to make a train journey somewhere.
Here’s some of the absurdity that ensues when Maltesers catch a train:
The sheer terror of buying a ticket
Okay you’re finally on the right website and you are confident you can make your travel arrangements without help from another adult. Enter destination, done. Time of departure – would you like to leave ‘before noon’, ‘after midnight’ ‘three days from Thursday but only if it’s a full moon’? Why aren't there actual times?! Next – ticket prices. You could get peak, off-peak, super-off-peak. But – when are the peaks? When the fuck are the peaks?!
p.s. if anyone knows the person who knows the peaks, please write to us.
Trying not to look like the biggest newb at the station
Your armpits are pitted, your tongue is scalded from that seemingly harmless, actually treacherous, tiny hole on top of your coffee cup. Your eyes are watering as you scan the schedule screens trying desperately to find your train amidst the matrix of travel info.
You start to panic, a million thoughts run through your head – have they cancelled my train? Am I at the wrong station? Why can’t I read this screen, for fuck’s sake I have a Masters degree! You finally give up and ask the train info person who promptly looks at you you as though you’ve asked if the station is made of play-dough, and points effortlessly to the right board.
Feeling like a movie star as you wait on the track that you’ve finally found
Okay, you’e survived the minefield that is the train station and now you stand posing on the platform. Your outfit is perfect, and your face has that sweet blush to it that you can only get from nearly shitting your pants thinking you’ve missed your train.
You try to maintain composure as your fingers slowly succumb to frostbite, and then you realise – no one is interested in your travelling outfit. They’re all glued to their screens and have taken refuge under weather-appropriate clothing.
Boarding – also known as white, hot panic time
That train-whistle that you only ever hear in films has finally sounded. You have about a nano-second to feel excited before your body and mind are taken over by a surge of adrenaline. You scoop your 35kg suitcase from the platform with your pinky finger in one swoop. Your other hand is outstretched – gripping the air ahead of it in search of the nearest handle bar with which to pivot yourself onto the train. You’re like a platform ninja – no one can stop you.
Okay – you’re finally on. With (comfortably) about ten minutes to spare before you actually needed to panic.
Turning into the seat-terminator
Your eyes scour the carriage. It’s going to be at least another three months before you get to ride a train again so you’re going to get the best seat in the house. You push your way past toddlers and old people and finally find that perfect, forward-facing window seat you want.
A girl with fifteen bags and a broken leg looks at you pleadingly as all the other seats fill up faster than she can get to them. You’d think you’d be overcome by pity, but nope. Just a misplaced, irrational sense of entitlement because – jien ħallast daqs ħaddieħor…
Finally feeling relaxed and excited
For about five minutes. Until you realise you’re on a three hour train passing through fifteen identical suburban towns and you have no wifi and your data’s ran out. You curse yourself for not carrying a book with you. Why don’t you read anymore? You have a Masters degree for fucks sake!
Succumbing to the awe of the miracle of engineering
Yup, this whole new train toilet system is like the apex of human development.
Psyching yourself up for the big arrival
Ok so you’re about three stops away from your destination and you’ve got ants in your pants. You ask yourself – how long will it take me to gather my stuff and leave my seat? Should I wake the aggressive, drunk person whose head has made itself to the nape of my collar bone?
Okay you can do this. Jacket’s on, luggage is in hand, feet are both firmly placed on the ground ready to deploy. But wait – an announcement. “Due to a problem on the tracks his train will be stopping here for the next two hours.”