When I first saw this series I thought “Well, I’m glad nothing bad ever happened to me.” And then I started to remember some of the things that have happened…
In a moment I will describe my worst-ever day of travel… but first, one story that pops into my mind occurred circa 1985 when airport security was much less stringent than it is today. I was on a flight from London to Japan. About one hour into the flight the captain came on the intercom and, after chatting for a bit about speeds and altitudes and what-not, he said something like “We will be arriving in Tokyo in 12 hours’ time.” This was followed a few seconds later by a lady’s voice from a few rows in front of me saying “But I’m going to San Francisco!” I remember the shocked silence and everyone looking at each other in horror not knowing what to say or do.
As for my worst day of travel ever…. it was in the late 1970s. I was a student working on my BSc in Control Engineering. My course was of the “thick sandwich” variety, which meant I spent a year at University, then 6 months in industry, then back to University for 9 months, then another 6 months in Industry, then back to University to complete my 4 years.
I was based in the city of Sheffield. It was a Tuesday and I was supposed to be interviewing for my first industrial placement position at a company located in a town about 10 miles outside the center of London (Sheffield is about 170 miles North of London). As soon as I awoke that morning I realized that I had slept through my alarm clock. I raced to get dressed, ran down the road, and caught a bus to the train station in the city center. While waiting for the train I called my mother and asked her to contact my placement officer at the University to ask him to contact the company to say I would be late for the interview (it was too early for the placement officer to be at work, and these were the days before cell phones).
I spent the next few hours on the train fretting about what a mess I had made of things. As soon as I arrived in London I raced through the station down into the nearest Underground entrance and caught the next Underground train. After about 20 minutes I realized I was heading in the wrong direction…
I jumped off the train at the next stop, ran up the stairs and through the corridors and down the other side to catch the first train going in the right direction…
When I finally arrived at my interview I was several hours late and somewhat disheveled. I gave my name to the lady on the reception desk. A short time later two older guys came into the foyer to greet me. I started by apologizing for being late. The guy in charge replied “What are you talking about? You’re a day early – we weren’t expecting you until tomorrow!”
I got the position – I have no idea how :-)
Editor's Note: Please share your Travel Nightmare stories with us. Send them to Brian Bailey at email@example.com for inclusion in a future Travel Nightmares blog.
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