The pain on the train falls mainly on… me
It’s 12.30pm and I am lost in Milan. I’m supposed to be nice and warm right now, an hour into my luxury overnight train to Rome. Instead I’m currently stuck on a carriage that makes Australian suburban trains look like beautiful Dubai palaces on wheels.
It turns out i found hell. For those of you wanting to visit the fiery depths, to satiate your curiosity, simply take the train to Milano Garibaldi station in Italy near midnight and get lost on a multi-platform station that you’ve never been to before.
Don’t bother asking for help though, even I, asking in pigeon Italian, am shrugged off with a dismissive ‘Check the screens’ by the rude (or is it just because it’s in Italian?) staff.
I check the screen. Nope, no train to Rome listed. There’s not even a train departing at the same time as the time that was printed on my ticket. I’m well and truly lost. Suddenly, a beacon of hope in the form of the Trentitalia Customer Service Desk!
Or at least I think.
In italian: “Your train has left” then he stares at me blankly. I’m waiting, half in shock and half in anger, for him to continue the sentence. He doesn’t. He simply looks down and keeps on reading the newspaper.
I enquire politely, okay not so politely, ‘Okay then. What can I do?’. He looks up at me, visibly disgruntled that I’ve interrupted his story time. “Wait till 5am, another train will come”
I look at him, now with rising anger brewing to the point where it might just boil over. “I was here, 45 minutes before my train departure, I asked for information, I looked at screens. Nothing. Not one train that said it was going to Rome”
The misinformation officer looks at me, unapologetic, and offers up in a half-spit of a voice “The train you should have been looking for was Salerno. Not Rome. Rome is a stop on the train line, nothing more. It is not the destination on the screen”
I am furious. And upset. But mainly furious. “But I was told to look at the screen for the train to Rome, not the train to Salerno, and besides, the train to Salerno left at 11.24 and my train was due to leave at 11.35pm”
Once again a blank response and he coughs out “We changed the time”
My heart sinks. Not only have I missed the train but I’ve also managed to attract the most unhelpful man at an information desk in the world. Maybe you should consider a job change buddy.
I go off in a half-Australian, half-Italian, at times incoherent rant, including mentioning what I do for a job (yes I went with that card) and through to saying something along the lines of ‘your uppance will come’
Listening to my rant with no expression, the (dis)information clerk looks down and then hands me a piece of paper. “Because you make a mistake this time I give you a new ticket. Take the train on 17 to Verona. Then you change. You’ll get to Rome … eventually.” he spits, adding “It leaves in 5 minutes. You besta run”
And so here I am. Out of breath. Drained of energy and severely tired, sitting on a graffiti-covered, smoke-filled carriage on the way to the city of star-crossed lovers Verona.
Verona. Where the balcony that Romeo and Juliet allegedly gazed into each others eyes and whispered sweet nothings to each other. I am also currently whispering under my breath. But it’s far from sweet.
Photo of Milano Station by Wikipedia