Ever had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong?
This week, my wife and I had a business meeting in London. I decided we deserved a treat, so I booked ahead and got us first-class train tickets.
The plan was to do the meeting, spend a little time in the capital city, then travel home in luxury that evening.
What could possibly go wrong?
We were a little late leaving the house, which meant we were cutting it short to catch the train, and the tickets couldn’t be transferred to another journey, so the stress started to build a little.
We needn’t have worried. Kids are off school in England right now, which always leads to clearer roads, and we got there in plenty of time.
We checked the boards. That’s odd. There’s no 9.30 train!
I checked my e-tickets and immediately felt a huge rush of panic.
I must have accidentally hit the transpose button on the app. My tickets were London-Peterborough, not Peterborough-London!
The next train wasn’t for another 20 minutes, which meant we’d be short on time getting to the meeting at the other end AND I didn’t have long to sort out my journey mess.
One frustrating phone call later and I had new tickets. In standard class. And they’d cost me an additional £60!
Breathe, Taz, breathe!
We got onto our train. We even began to see the funny side… AND we got to our meeting on time.
The meeting went really well. We were on a high. We went off for some food, then decided to satisfy our curiosity and go see the Body Worlds exhibition everyone has been talking about.
Neither of us had been sure what to expect – we had some degree of trepidation about even setting foot in the place – but we were pleasantly surprised. The exhibition was hugely educational and utterly fascinating.
And then I made my second mistake of the day.
Through the exhibition, I’d been indulging in a humorous Facebook messenger conversation with a few pals.
What can I say? It was the end of a long week. We’d survived the train stress. We’d had a great meeting AND we had a rare afternoon off together. That frivolous Friday feeling was flying high and I was cutting loose.
Let’s just say that when we got to the section on sex and reproductive organs, my inner 12 year-old came out to play on that messenger thread.
Though parts of the exhibition are really sensitive in nature, this part has a little more ‘fun’ to it. There’s even a wall with ‘peep holes’ where you appear to look through windows to see scrolling facts on the mechanics of luurve making.
Warning, folks… explicit content coming up…
I fired off a message into the group, saying the exhibition was excellent and that we were currently at ‘the clitoris cabinet’.
Oh, how I laughed. I was so proud of myself. I was being sooooo funny.
I glanced down at my phone and realised I’d sent that message not to the group chat, but to someone else entirely!
I quickly fired off an apology, explaining what had happened. I could only wait and hope. Luckily, my unsuspecting recipient had a great sense of humour, and I was pretty sure she’d be okay.
My only challenge now was in bringing my own energy down a little and not falling headfirst into a giggling fit which, regardless of the lighter nature of some parts of the exhibition, would have been entirely inappropriate. Parts of it *do* include actual, human remains, after all!
I gathered myself and we moved on.
We spent more than three hours in that place – it really was fascinating and I’d recommend a visit if you haven’t yet been. Sure, there have been all kinds of mixed reports, but I’d say park your judgement and go see for yourself. You might just be surprised.
Honestly, if I’d seen something like this in my school days, I just might have taken more interest in biology. The section on CPR, with interactive resuscitation dummies, was a wonderful way to top up our emergency skills too. It really was a well-thought out, education-packed experience – far more than ‘just’ a spectacle.
By the time we left, our stomachs were ready for dinner. Luckily, that change to our train tickets meant we could choose any one of a number of return journeys, so we decided to make a night of it.
At about 9pm, we decided to head home. I checked for the next available train.
Wait for it…
The return trains had all been cancelled due to electrical faults and ‘extreme weather’.
I called the Trainline people again, who said some trains were running on a different line and our tickets would be accepted.
We got to Kings Cross station. Something odd was happening. Hundreds of people were outside, there was lots of shouting, and the station doors were all closed and being guarded from the inside.
The electrical fault had slapped every line north of London. ALL trains north were cancelled until the following day.
I checked the Trainline website. Yep. All off. Tickets would be valid tomorrow. No transport was being arranged for the onwards journey, as far as we could see.
London has thousands of black cabs, but just imagine for a moment, if you will, the furore of hundreds of people trying to get home at the same time.
To put this in context for you, our car was parked at Peterborough station, about 95 miles away. There were no trains or buses going in that direction and we needed to get home that night.
I called into the crowd: “Anyone else need to get to Peterborough and want to share a cab?”
Four people came forward. Game on.
One of the chaps – Philip – said he’d just tried to get a cab and, even if we could find one, he’d been quoted £300 ($361). Ouch!
Someone in the crowd suggested Uber. I’d never used it before, but figured it was a valid alternative.
I downloaded the app and was given a quote on a sliding scale of £181-£252. The Uber driver could be with us in minutes. We all agreed. The deal was done.
A couple of hours later, we were safely back at Peterborough station. The driver said he couldn’t provide the full charge amount until we’d all exited the vehicle and he’d been able to tell the system he’d finished the job.
We got out.
The app didn’t refresh. The email didn’t arrive.
I checked my Paypal account. I’d been charged £330.19!
When the email finally turned up, they’d added a surge charge (apparently applied in busy times) of £90 and a ‘clean air fee’ of £14.
Let’s just say my new-found faith in Uber evaporated in that moment. Surely, the quoted maximum fee should be the maximum fee.
Luckily, the passengers who shared the journey with us chipped in and I’m waiting to see if the train line will refund my ticket (can’t help thinking they should be compensating towards the onwards journey too, but we’ll see).
So, what were the lessons from my experience? And how can I #FlipMyNegatives on this day?
1 – Whatever you’re doing, give it 100% of your attention.
I don’t care if you’re taking a bath, reading a book, going for a walk OR booking a train. Be in the moment and stop trying to multi-task – if I’d been concentrating more, I probably wouldn’t have cocked up my train tickets.
2 – Celebrate the small wins.
Sure, it cost me more money to switch tickets – and downgraded travel – but we were still getting into London, we made our appointment on time AND it was a great meeting.
3 – Slow down!
We tend to speed through life at 100mph. We miss too much AND we make silly faux pas when we’re not fully in the moment.
In truth, I shouldn’t have been on my phone in that exhibition at all. I was there with my wife and we were learning amazing stuff together.
Why did I even pick my phone up in the first place? It was because I’d just seen an amazing fact about happiness and the brain and I wanted to share it with my friends. The conversation had continued from there. I *could* have messaged the group later, or the next day.
If I’d waited – or just slowed down and paid more attention – I wouldn’t have fired off that cheeky message in the wrong direction.
This is something I usually practice faithfully. Being in the moment. Recognising we can only spend each moment once. I allowed that frivolous Friday feeling (alliteration’s awesome, isn’t it?) to knock me off centre.
4 – Be in gratitude
I’m not happy that Uber added so much onto our fee and took the cash before we’d been warned of – or agreed to – the maximum being exceeded by so much, but the fact is, I at least had that much cash in my account. Not so long ago, that wouldn’t have been the case.
So, I’m flipping my negatives again here. We got home – safely and soundly – and we helped others get home in the process. AND I had enough spare cash in my account to enable me to pay for that journey without a major panic.
I’m grateful for all those things. I’m thankful for the abundance in my life.
5 – Keep the faith
Once I’d sent that erroneous message, I could only hand over to the universe and hope for the best. As it happened, the recipient enjoyed a really good laugh at my expense, at a time when she really needed it. I might not have orchestrated it but, on some level, that was a job well done.
I’m also keeping the faith that Uber will offer a partial refund, the rail network will refund my ticket and give a bit of compensation, and that next time I need a proper London cabbie, one will be available!
So, that’s my story of finding the positives, learning my lessons from what *could* have been a day full of frustration and disappointment.
It’s all about perspective, people – I had lots of laughter and was surrounded by love all the time, and that’s worth a gazillion crazy Uber fees.
Until next time,