Viewpoints

Big Smile No Teeth

Published: Sunday April 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday April 6, 2014 MYT 7:46:52 AM

Thank you Switzerland

Our columnist leaves his bag, with a laptop full of embarrassing personal photos, on a Swiss train. And then he runs back – onto the wrong train – to retrieve it.

IT happens to the best of us, leaving something behind. You get out of a taxi, bus or train and realise that you’ve left whatever in the vehicle.

Sure, this will happen to everyone and is really no big deal – except when you’re frantically calling long distance to cancel your ATM and credit cards.

Knowing this happens to everyone was little consolation for me when I recently pulled a complete “model move” and exited a train in Switzerland minus my backpack – which was carrying fairly minor things, like my laptop and passport, well, basically my life.

Luckily my laptop is backed up to the portable drive. Unluckily (or stupidly, rather), the drive was also in said misplaced bag. Please note that backing up data loses some of its safety net value if you store everything in the same place like some brainless model. But yeah, I’ll get back to the story.

I had exited the train along with the Life Inspired TV camera crew I’d been shooting with for the past week, and was ready to get into some Zurich action when I realised I had left my bag behind.

I immediately sprinted back to the platform and boarded the first train I saw. Which wasn’t a good idea, as it turned out to be the wrong train. Of course, when I realised it was the wrong train, it started moving. And there I was stuck – going to who knows where – and wondering how I was going to replace my passport, and if the new owner of my laptop was using my Steam Account to purchase video games while scrolling through my personal pictures and laughing.

I was not in a good place. I’m not only talking about mentally, but physically too, because the train stopped in place called Waldorf or Dumbledore or something where I got out completely clueless. Admittedly, I was too distraught to pay much attention to signage as I hopped on to the next platform and waited for the next train back to Zurich.

At this point in my tale, I should remind everyone that I was in Switzerland working on shooting a plethora of content for the TV channel. So my unexpected departure from the crew had put them in a bit of a tough spot with our interviewee who had expected a host to ask him questions, not a host that sprinted away and boarded a train to Smorgasbord or wherever for no apparent reason. It was a good thing I hadn’t accidentally boarded the express train to Budapest.

Standing in the totally wrong place, my life bag in the completely other direction, and with every passing second increasing the chances that somebody had decided to open the mystery bag and claim it for themselves ... this was my situation. Recovering my bag was becoming more and more unlikely.

Now here’s where my luck took a turn.

Turns out the subject I was to interview that sunny morning in Zurich was from the Swiss Travel System – basically the Swiss railway company.

It also turns out that while I had been racing through the train station and jumping on the wrong train like a well-meaning but moronic action hero, my producers at Li were working with the representative from the railway to track the train we had been on.

When I arrived back in Zurich, my producers – who realised that I was freaking out and dedicated themselves to helping me get my bag back – had figured out that the train we were on had ended at the airport and would come back to Zurich on platform 4 in roughly 20 more minutes. So it wasn’t a complete loss that I had gone off the rails somewhere and back. At least it had killed some time.

But locating the train, didn’t mean my bag was located. It was a backpack full of electronics and embarrassing photos resting all alone on public transit. The more I thought about it, the more I started to realise someone was probably the proud new owner of my backpack, and my passport. I was just hoping that they didn’t decide to open an Instagram account dedicated to my ridiculous personal photos.

But I hadn’t taken into account the Swiss factor. When the train pulled into the station, I ran into the car I had been on and raced down the aisle. Right where I had left it, was my backpack – and a large chunk of my life. I couldn’t believe it. The bag had travelled on its own to the airport and back and has been left untouched.

When I emerged from the train, my interviewee, the railway rep, was standing there. I held my bag up triumphantly and he smiled and said, “I leave stuff on the train all the time and always get it back, Swiss people are very honest.”

Perhaps my panic had been misplaced. But I think leaving my bag on a train in Switzerland, working with great producers, while about to meet a rep from the railway (whose last name happened, amazingly, to translate to “backpack”), were all extremely lucky strokes.

Thank you, Switzerland and lady luck. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading out to buy a lottery ticket.

> Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 728).

Tags / Keywords: Opinion, Lifestyle, Luggage, Baggage, Travel

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