Trains, Hangovers and Bomb Threats

I think I’ve mentioned on a few occasions that I never seem to be able to do anything quite by the book. On more than one occasion have I tried to complete some more than trivial task, and as a result either reckless fun, madness, bodily injury, fires, absolute chaos or a combination of the above have ensued.. Apparently wherever Johan goes, madness follows.. Apparently I now can’t even get on a train without things getting crazily out of hand.

Let me just set the scenario here: For the last couple of days, I’ve been visiting with Dunkel and his girlfriend, Marianne, in Esbjerg. It was supposed to have been a pretty trivial visit from Saturday through Sunday, but in the spirit of not being able to do things quite by the book, we sorta ended up getting drunk rather than getting me on the train as planned on Sunday, so one night of partying turned into 32 hours of partying and Johan being forced to crash on the couch for an extra day.. No biggie, really, as I work nights and don’t have to be at work before 8 PM.. The plan was I’d just get up early on Monday, grab a bus from Dunkel’s house, jump on a train and get home pretty early, ready to face the chores of the day..

Well, at least the first few steps of the plan went well.. I got up early, got myself and my shit together, said goodbye to my still sleeping hosts, jumped on a bus towards the train station, got to the station, bought a ticket, dashed for the train.. And then, in true Johan fashion, things took a turn for the surreal.. It all started with me dashing towards the train realizing that there was no way in hell I’d make it on to the train before it departed.. No biggie, I thought as the train pulled off the platform right in front of me.. I’ll just wait half an hour and grab the next train and all will be well. Now, being no stranger to the Danish state railroads, I’ve kinda gotten used to the waits and delays (but that’s another post, one that will be up tomorrow, hopefully), so I just sat out the wait, got on the next train, found a seat and sat down, smiling to myself as the train actually departed on time – a pretty rare experience on these snowy winter days.. I should’ve known things wouldn’t be that easy.

My first clue that something was wrong came after about 30 minutes when the trains computer system made a bold statement over the loud speakers declaring that the next stop would be Middlefart (yes, that is a town in Denmark, feel free to laugh at our expense).. Right, okay, fine, I pretty much suck at geography but I do know that Middelart is a town on the island of Funen and certainly not a stop on the mainland stretch between Esbjerg and Kolding.. But be that as it may, this little slip-up was nothing compared to the hardships ahead.

We were all pretty much still busy laughing at the above mentioned mishap when the train slowed abruptly and soon came to a complete standstill. Once again the speakers came on and this time a very live human and very confused voice came on saying something along the lines of “Umm, ladies and gentlemen, this is your conductor speaking. We’re currently at a halt outside of Vejen train station.. The reason for this is that, umm, well, there’s apparently a bomb threat against the station and to be honest, we’re not sure just what to do.. But I’ll be back with more info soon.” — Wait? What? The message, while at first puzzling and downright hard to believe left us not really knowing whether to laugh or cry. The concept of someone bothering to call in a bomb threat against a small town station in the middle of nowhere seemed downright laughable, but the implications it might hold for the rest of our journey seemed not so entertaining.

After a few minutes of sitting around in anticipation of things to come, the speakers came on again and our friendly conductor told us that the current word from the police was that no one would be let into or near the station for at least three hours while the bomb squad secured the perimeter.. Oh yay! The solution to the problem was to simply reverse the direction of the train and take us back to our departing station and create a shuttle bus service from there to take us past the bomb chaos at Vejen station and back on the rail.. Or in my case back home since Kolding was the first station past Vejen not inflicted by the situation. This was good news as it meant I’d get to go directly home on bus, and at the same time bad news because it evidently spelled one hell of a delay for all parties stuck in the middle of this mess.

To their credit, the train crew got the train rolling in the opposite direction pretty quickly, yet sadly it didn’t roll very.. Well, quickly. Apparently safety regulations dictate that when an Intercity train abruptly switches directions, it’s only allowed to move forward at 40 kilometers per hour.. So we had a blast of a time traveling backwards for about 40 kilometers at this breakneck speed. After about an hour, we arrived back at another small station in a town called Bramming (I really got to touch up on my eastern Denmark geography this weekend) where apparently our train journey was to come to an end as we were now ushered out of the comfort of the train and into the snow to wait for the first set of shuttle busses to arrive and take us onwards. On our way out, I stopped to thank the train crew who despite the near impossible situation had put up one hell of a fight and showed not only great determination and problem solving skills but also great service, comfort and consideration for the passengers.. This simple gesture owed me a surprising amount of spiteful laughter, evil looks and nasty, sarcastic comments from my fellow passengers which just goes to prove my point that Danes really are some of the most impolite people on the face of the earth.. Amazing that people in their fifties can still be inconsiderate brats.

But I digress, back to Bramming train station where I had the first major crisis of the day.. I’m telling you, trains and hangovers aren’t a good combination to begin with.. Add random bomb threats, reversals, rearrangements, waiting in the chilling cold for 20 minutes and improvised bus services on top.. And I’m really not a happy camper anymore. There isn’t really much to say about the 20 minute wait for bus service in Bramming other than it wasn’t boring because you were pretty much too busy shivering and trying to stay warm to even consider being bored. When the busses finally arrived, it was to more groans and complaints from my fellow passengers with the general, LOUD, complaint being that the shuttle busses didn’t stop in several smaller towns along the way to Kolding. One particular female passenger seemed very vocal about things and nearly earned herself a right thrashing by yours truly because if she was so damn upset about the bus not stopping in Gørding, why the fuck didn’t she just get off the train when it stopped in Gørding on the way back, rather than standing here bitching? Honest to God, there are so many things about women I’ll never get to understand..

Amidst much bitching, pushing, yelling and shoving, I eventually made it onto the first double decker bus in line and settled down in a seat on the upper level which treated me to a nice view of the rest of the journey as we began the hour-long drive to Kolding.. Again, there really isn’t too much to say about the ride other than it was long and uncomfortable but eventually did come to an end.. And as such, I finally touched down at Kolding station at around 2:30 PM, only four hours after having left Esbjerg for what should have been a pretty simple journey of about an hour.. I really have not have much luck with the Danish State Railroads lately.. But just this once, I really do compliment the train staff on a job well done in a pretty impossible situation.. Thanks, guys!

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