Every morning I frantically search for my keys and my phone as I throw on my coat, grab my backpack and run out the door with zero regard for my neighbours as the door slams swiftly behind me. I jam my fingers into the elevator button as if the elevator has some type of magical ability to sense my impatience as I wait.
As soon as the door opens I get on and immediately assess my appearance in the mirrored interior as I make my descent . Once I hit the ground floor and the doors open I break into a sprint, racing my way to the tram stop all the while my backpack tries desperately to throw me off balance as it flails behind me trying to hang on for dear life.
I see the tram coming down the overpass on its way to my stop, my body responds by finding another gear and starts running. I make it just in time for the tram to transport me to Rotterdam Central Train Station.
Twenty minutes later I enter the station and make my way to the platform where my train is usually already waiting as if anticipating my arrival. At the end of the platform is Paula at the Coffee Kiosk, she sees me coming and begins to prepare my morning coffee. I always know I can count on Paula for a warm smile and a quick chat about life before I hop on the train. (I asked her one morning why her coffee tasted better than anyone else’s and that’s when she told me that she makes my coffee with love.)
I always enter the last train car as this is where my day begins. I push open the cabin door and there to greet me with grins on their faces are my morning train friends. I take my usual place by the window and settle into my seat. Finally the conductor announces that we are leaving the station and the train whisks us off toward Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
I remember the day I meet Nicolae. I was standing at the platform at Schiphol waiting for my final connection. I had seen him a few times before and finally one of us said hello….I don’t remember who, but I would be shocked if it was me! He spoke English, with an accent of course, but I knew it wasn’t Dutch.
Well as luck would have it, my first train friend had spent many years previously living in Canada before he and his wife moved to the Netherlands 8 years ago and wouldn’t you know it, he happens to work in the office building directly across the street from mine.
Nicolae was the gateway to the rest of my train friends.
Next came Carol, who believes that the sole mission of the train company is to conspire to see how they can make the lives of daily commutors the most miserable. However she is also the most adventurous out of the bunch. When she’s not with us in the train it is usually because she is off on an exotic trek exploring South America.
Then there is Rogier, who’s name in Dutch I struggle to pronounce, so to me he is known as Roger. I am convinced he spends most of his free time online filing refund claims with the train company. To be honest I think this business of filing refund claims is a favourite pass time for most Dutchies since the train system in the Netherlands isn’t exactly known for its punctuality.
Finally there is Annet, she is the most thoughtful of all of us. She has made me homemade jam, bought all of us Valentines and even brings us treats for the ride home if we are lucky enough to meet up at Schiphol for the return journey.
We are quite the motley crew in the morning. I can only imagine how annoying we are to all the other passengers as we laugh, share, complain and sometimes even argue. As I put the words to paper I can’t help but compare us to some sort of family.
Finally we arrive at Schiphol where we all disperse and go our separate ways to our final destinations only to repeat the entire journey again the following morning.
Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found my train family. It makes every day a little brighter! If you happen to be a daily commuter like me might I suggest putting your phone away or whatever distraction you use to fill your time and take a look at the faces of the people around you. I would bet they are the same faces everyday. Try smiling at them, who knows you might just make a friend or two and suddenly have a train family of your own.