I am sitting in a café at the harbor and enjoying the view of the sea and the boats. The sun is toasting my foot through my sandals, but I don’t change my place. I want to enjoy the last rays of sun. I am soon going back to our usual cloud and rain in the far east. As the waiter brings my coffee, I notice a bride and a groom posing in front of the boats. Today, we had a wedding in the village and the joy was palpable in the air. It doesn’t matter that we know that this marriage, as many others, will probably not last long, but the image is alluring. We all need to believe in fairy tales.
I look at my watch. The taxi to take me to the train station will arrive any time now. I pay for my coffee and get ready to leave. I am very sad that this short vacation is over. I force myself to be positive and re-think: “How lucky I was to have at least few days at the sea”. This is the alternative way of saying: “Oh, what a pity that it was so short, I would have stayed another week or so”.
From far I see the taxi driver is making a sign at me as: “Come, I am parked here”. I jump in the car and we get going. The guy has a strange goatee and very well tanned, as are all people in this region. Because of their constant exposure to sun, their skin becomes a specific golden-brown color. In the scale of cacao content in a chocolate bar, I am now at 30% compared to their 90%.
The taxi driver, Carlos, is very talkative. He talks to me about Strasbourg and how he likes the plum tarts from that region. In the middle of these discussions, he proposes to take me directly to Marseille, where I am supposed to change my train to Strasbourg. “I will charge you the same as to this train station, I have to go to Marseille anyway to pick up a client. If you want, we can go together”. I like the idea, the guy is fun and I love car rides. But then we realize that his client is arriving much later than my train and so it was not possible to drive together to Marseille, unless he decides to spend some time alone in the train station. I feel that he is less enthusiastic about this possibility, so I ask him to take me to the original train station; at Ollioules. The name cracks me up every time I say it!
Carlos drops me off. We shake hands goodbye and I enter the station. Automatically my hand goes for my cell phone and that is when the panic invades me. I have lost my cell phone … Most probably I left it in the freaking taxi while I was chitchatting with the guy. I start to imagine the following days without my phone. At first I think to myself that it is a great opportunity to severe my addiction to my phone; few days without it and I might be cured. But the prospect of 4-5 days without a cell phone seems too painful. I think of a plan. I approach the nearest person and ask her to use her phone to make a call to myself. I hope that Carlos will hear the phone ring in his car and realize what has happened and bring the phone back to the station, before I leave. A fairy tail story à la Walt Disney.
Of course none of this happens. My train to Marseille arrives. I take a seat and start imagining another story and dream again. Maybe Carlos has found my phone and will be waiting for me in Marseille …
I brush these dreamy thoughts from my head and decide to take action; call Carlos myself. I joyfully remember that I actually have his number written on a paper somewhere. It is good that as much as I am dependent to my electronic gadgets, I do not trust them much. All the indispensable information that I need, I write them down on papers, the old style.
I look around to choose a person to lend me his phone. The woman next to me seems to have some wrong wiring in her head. She tells me that in her opinion air conditioning was a very bad invention, that “it has been one of the most disastrous man made progress of the twentieth century”! She prefers windows. “The sight of an open window already helps me breath better”, she says philosophically. I draw her attention to all the open windows in this train dating from WWII and the fact that regardless, there is no air to breath. She tells me that she has no problem to be even in 45 Celsius. Ok then, that might explain the damaged neurons. I decide not to ask her for her cell phone and let her breath by looking at the open windows.
Finally I choose a prey. I have to explain the situation in a discrete manner but still everyone around hears the story. They all commiserate with me on this modern age tragedy, which is called loosing your cell phone.
I call Carlos and at the same time I look at the passengers who are looking at me almost holding their breath. At first he says that he cannot see anything. Then, he parks his car and looks more carefully and then he yells: “Yes! Yes, here it is”.
“Great!” I exclaim in joy. The passengers are all smiling and almost about to applaud, as if someone had said YES to my marriage proposal.
So, I tell him that I will change my return ticket to Strasbourg and wait for him in Marseille. That was naturally the beginning of the nightmare, and not the end of it. I knew that there is no later train to Strasbourg for that day, so I decide to go to Paris, sleep the night and leave tomorrow. I go to the clerk and explain to him the situation. He is a young novice. He types few things on his computer and then after few minutes of making astonished faces, he tells me that by mistake he has deleted my ticket!
Sweet, now not only I loose one day, I also loose some money.
After half an hour of trying various incomprehensible strategies to recover my ticket, he finally calls his big boss, who not surprisingly for Marseille, happened to be an Armenian guy. Our compatriotism function. He makes few phone calls and finally after one hour, I have my ticket reimbursed and new tickets issued. I rush out and meet Carlos in the hallway and get my cell phone back.
After wasting two hours, I am on my way to Paris, with my cellphone.
Again, I try to find the positive in this. Now that I will be in Paris, I plan to have a Sunday Chelo-kabab with a friend before leaving to Strasbourg. This way, I have something to look forward to. Otherwise this would have been a tiring and stressful ending to a nice vacation.
Ending? Not sure yet. Who know what awaits me tomorrow, or even this evening?