Suddenly, I was running. The tiled walls of the corridor became a blur, as I scrambled towards the end. There were people all around – some walking, some running in the opposite direction to me. And worst, some walking the same direction as me, in my way but oblivious to what was happening, and to my urgency.
I reached the end of the corridor, and leapt up the steps, two or three at a time. A woman and a teenage girl were doing the same, just ahead of me, but slower. This was no time for dawdling, hurry! I almost found a gap and got past them, I think I may have bumped one of them. "Sorry!" I gasped back at them.
I got near the top. My eyes flitted upwards to the screen. I could scarcely believe my eyes. It couldn’t be possible. The laws of physics don’t allow this, do they?
But it was true. The 8:20 Lilydale express. ON TIME. That had never happened before. I kept moving, towards the nearest door. It was still open. I had made it.
I looked back to the girl and the woman. They were now running towards the door too. I stood halfway in, halfway out, making sure the driver wouldn’t speed off without them, and let them board, before doing the same and finding a seat.
The doors closed, the train set off. Those of us who had run for it looked relieved. I don’t usually have to run for this train, it’s usually at least three or four minutes late.
We all settled down into our seats, to read our newspapers and books, listen to our headphones, stare out the window, or just look cool. Except the girl. By the time the train sped through Burnley, she had started to look worried.
Or at least, right train but wrong passenger.
This is something I’ve done before. Bolted up (or down) the stairs and onto the wrong train, because I didn’t check the screen. I had been lucky though. The train I ended up on went to the station I was going to – just by a more circuitous route.
The girl was not so lucky. She wanted Glen Waverley, and short of forcing the doors and leaping dramatically from the speeding train as if in some wholly unrealistic action movie, she was going to have to backtrack from the next stop. She asked and got advice from a woman, and another who was getting off at the next stop. Catch a train back to Burnley, they told her.
Did she find her Glen Waverley train? I don’t know, I hope so. She’ll be more careful next time.
As for me, despite the freak on time running of the 8:20 Lilydale express this morning, I still made it to work on time.