Saturday, April 08, 2006

Esperando

So, today I had an unexpected (and not thoroughly pleasant) adventure. I had to buy bus and train tickets for my mom and I to get around Spain this coming week (she is flying in tomorrow, Sunday). Daniel and I had gone by bus to Segovia, and we bought our tickets literally ten minutes before the bus left, so I figured, no problem. A few days before, everything will be fine. Well. This is Semana Santa (Holy Week) and it turns out that Spaniards take their Semana Santa vacation time very seriously. EVERYONE goes somewhere, and apparently about half of them go by train. The bus tickets were acquired without incident, but I ran into some *issues* at the train station.

First of all, this is a huge train station, the main one for Madrid, and there were like a gajillion people there. After finally locating the correct ticket place, I stood in line for half an hour to use an automatic ticket machine. There were only five seats left on the train I wanted, so I was feeling pretty lucky, and I thought the end was in sight. But no, that would be too easy. It wouldn't accept my credit card, which was why I couldn't buy them online, despite the fact that it SAID it would accept MasterCard. I am pretty sure at this point that it is because it is American. Not to worry, though, ATMs aren't so picky, so I got some cash and took a number to get to talk to a real person.

I figured I would have to wait a bit, since it seemed pretty busy, but I was in no way prepared for the number I got. There were several ticket windows open, and they were on number 50, but the number I got was number 501. That's right, five HUNDRED and one. So, I rather despairingly bought a Fanta and settled down on the floor, since all the chairs were full, watching the monitor that announced the numbers with glassy eyes, resigned to wait my turn without temper tantrums or tears.

BUT this story is not simply about sharing my ordeal, with a generous helping of self-pity (as hard as that is to believe); nor is it about the crushing way in which disorganized bureaucracy can mow down the ordinary individual. No sir, this story has a much bigger, much more important theme. It is about human compassion, and the camaraderie that comes from common suffering!

After I had been waiting almost an hour and we had made it to number 137 (the numbers were going pretty fast, evidently because most of the turns were not being claimed, which made me even more frustrated because a ton of time was being wasted on announcing numbers), a youngish (translation: older than me but probably in their twenties) couple that had been standing near me came up to me and asked me in Spanish reiterated by accented English if I was waiting for my turn. I had my number desperately clutched in my hand, so that was pretty obviously the case, and they could see that I had a long wait still ahead of me. THEN (pay attention this is the important part) they handed me their ticket, with the number 259 on it, and told me to take it, because it was better. I was like, REALLY?? THANKS! And then they left. I saw from their ticket that they had been waiting two hours longer than me, and I don't know why they left; maybe they decided they would buy their tickets on the internet or something. In any case, that totally made my day, and I had to wait only an hour or so more to get my turn with my new and improved number. On my way out I passed my old number on to someone else slumped against the wall.

That, my friends, is what it's all about. There might still be a little glimmer of hope for the human race. Hence the title, of course: esperando = waiting or hoping. Just one of the beautiful things about the Spanish language.

5 Comments:

At 12:57 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Your inspirational missive has lifted the fog from my soul. Perhaps there is hope for mankind, yet. Have a magnificent week.

 
At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Mom said...

And although we didn't get to sit together, the train ride was great! Very comfortable seats and big windows. Thanks for your efforts Kendra!

 
At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Grandma said...

Kendra, You have the patience of Job!!

 
At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Ranka ^.^ said...

Cuando hay oscuridad Dios siempre nos da una luz. ^_^ España sonido como un lugar muy interesante. Ojalá que pueda visitar a España algún día tambien, como estudiante. Yo oí sobre el "blog" de Ud. de mi padre, a quien trabaja con su madre (¿Extraño, no?. Estoy muy interesada en otras culturas, y idiomas. ^.^ ¿Cuantos años tienes? ¡Yo tengo diez y ocho años y voy a la universidad ESTE año! O.O;;;;; Gracias por sus escritos. Me puede escribir a "espirit_se_demandant@hotmail.com" si quiere. Me gustaría aprender como convertíste a un estudiante de España y como puedo mejorar mi español.

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Ranka :S said...

Lo siento...Hay muchos errores arriba. ^^; Sabe qué qo signifiqué...espero.^^;

 

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