Advice for Taking the Wrong Train

The train that got away

Waiting at a foreign train station and staring at the screen that tells you which section your train will be is simple. The thick air dissolves in the focus to decipher the section you need to find and then locating it.

That was the easy part of Paris.

My mom, sister and I could locate a train then find the section in a decent amount of time. For three women who have lived in a small town with no trains or a population over 400, this train station was even an adventure.

We were taking the train from Paris to Lyon, which is in France as well. We load onto the first one which is a high speed straight to Lyon. The same place where a man had just got beheaded at a factory the day before. No worries though because the plan was to pass through.

Once we arrived in Lyon we were taking the next train towards Annecy. Well, that’s what we thought.


Everything looked extremely familiar and then the train guy who checks the tickets came.  And then a second one came. With aggressive, thick french accents they explained to us how we have to go straight back to Paris.

In this lecture by the two train conductors, I look to my mom who is solely focused on something else. I nudge her elbow and the train conductors just look pissed. My mom’s gaze drifts back to something.

“Megan, look” my mom slowly said under her breathe. “There’s the take-home Chef.” Trying not to be disrespectful to the men who seem pretty pissed we got onto a fully booked train, I wait to check out what may be the take-home chef.

For those of you who do not know, this is the Chef that comes and cooks with women to surprise their husband with a wonderful meal. His name is Curtis Stone but my mom and I always call him the “take-home chef” after the television series.

Paris to Lyon and back to Paris then Lyon again wasn’t the ideal time. But things like this happen so here’s how I dealt with it and how you can.

The advice part

This misadventure wasn’t all bad and here’s what I learned:

  1. Accept it. Being stuck on a high-speed train with no stops can be super frustrating. You also have to rearrange your plans because now you’re missing your destination. But you can’t change that it happened. Just take a second look at all the scenery that you could have missed.
  2. Stop “shoulding” yourself. Telling yourself you should have done this or should have gotten on the right train is just making it harder on yourself. Also the saying “shoulding” yourself never fails to make me laugh a bit.
  3. You’re traveling so make it another trip. In my science and risk communication studies we practice “registering strange.” As in looking at a topic as something completely new and never experienced before. So change your perspective and see what you’re missing.
  4. Be prepared. Bring a small deck of cards, book or a journal. It’s not any one’s goal to miss a train or get on the wrong one so just be prepared for if (for me it’s when) this will happen.
  5. Make the most of it. Sometimes the best plans are the ones you didn’t plan for. If this changes your hostel or changes your planned destination, then try exploring this new one. Maybe it was meant to be.

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