I had a bit of a bad day on Monday. I had finished work early, and decided to walk from Camden lock to Paddington along Regent's Canal, as the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and everything was hunky dory. Then I got diverted off the canal path because of some work being done there, and found myself rather hot and bothered on the Edgware Road, not the pleasant stroll through Little Venice that I had been expecting. When I arrived at Paddington I glanced up at the board and saw the 1651 to Oxford was about to leave from Platform 10. I ran across the station, and jumped aboard, assuming that it was the same as the 1851 I normally take, which runs fast to Slough. Not, as it turns out. In fact, it doesn't stop at Slough at all, though it does go through it, at high speed, on its way to its first stop - Reading. D'oh.
I only realised my mistake when the train manager started to make his announcement about all the tickets that weren't valid on the service. He sounded quite strict and I was a bit concerned about what he would say when he found out that about halfway through the journey, my ticket would stop being valid on any service. Short of throwing myself off the train at Slough, I could see only two options - flash my ticket fast and hope that he didn't notice, or come clean. I'm not one of the world's best liars, in fact, I'm terrible at it, and have therefore come to the conclusion that honesty is the best policy. There was a glimmer of hope when he came into the carriage, as it seemed that everyone on the train had got the wrong ticket, so he spent quite a lot of time charging people extra. But this made me all the more nervous, as it seemed my mistake was going to be quite costly. When he came to me, I showed him my ticket and said "I made a mistake, I thought this train went to Slough". "No", he said flatly, "this train doesn't stop at Slough". Then, to my surprise, he helpfully looked up the next train, and its probable platform for me, and moved on to the next customer. He didn't even attempt to charge me.
On my way back to Slough on the next service ten minutes later, the train manager didn't get as far as my seat before I exited the train, so I didn't have a chance to test the theory twice.
But there you go, scary-sounding train manager being completely reasonable about a genuine mistake.
So, why did I have such a bad day you ask? Well, I got home to find a large and unexpected tax bill on the doormat. I hate the tax man.