ZOMJ it snows in winter!

Simple observation: every year something so unexpected happens that no one is ever prepared for the scope of that disaster. Namely – it snows. In winter time…

I can perfectly understand how the recent snow-dump on Istanbul could wreck havoc: they had more snow than ever in recorded history, disrupting transport and air traffic. I can sort of relate to the normally Gulf-Stream-warmed Netherlands experiencing a short set-back that delayed my own flight by a total of almost 2 hours due to some snowfall. But there is one capital city where such calamity is as regularly unprepared for as regularly it happens: Moscow.

You see, in Moscow every year the municipal infrastructure is completely taken by surprise when the first heavy snowfall of the year inevitably arrives. Usually happening well into December, this yearly occurrence never fails to cause a major mess-up in the city traffic, as cleaning vehicles happen to still be in maintenance and meteorological forecasts seem to never hit the channels of those, who are responsible for having the snow-cleaning fleet prepared in time :).

I was pondering over this strange tendency of many places to be taken aback by not only major, but also relatively minor weather fluctuations as our flight was circling Amsterdam unable to land, and the train delays equally fired my suspicion that weather channels may be out of the vogue among some key groups of people who manage appropriate response agencies…

But enough about the snow. At the very least I am lucky to swap the ice age of Prague for that of Holland for a while :). The lower lands have welcomed me, albeit a couple of hours behind schedule, into their icy embrace last night. Being me, I, of course, managed to run into the “does not compute” case right upon arrival, but what would life be without a little fun?

I got onto the train from Schipol to the Hague where there were almost no free seats and decided to put my small suitcase up onto one seat and my dear self onto another. Some man materialized behind me and informed me “I’m going to sit here” (pointing at the spot I eyed for myself) by the time I placed my suitcase. I told him I was going to sit there. He directed me to sit where my suitcase was. I asked him how and where does he suggest I put my suitcase then (there are no shelves and leaving it between the seat rows in the way of other people was not the best option). He insisted that he would be taking the seat I was planning to take and that he doesn’t care about my suitcase – I could put it anywhere else just not on the seat…

Now, I understand sound reasoning when I’m given some, and had he told me something on the lines of him having to travel for over half an hour and if I could please find some spot for my stuff that would allow him to take a seat, there would be no issue. However, he said something so stupid I wanted to mentally punch him, albeit he was otherwise a nice guy and I was too tired to engage in empty polemics. He said he had paid for the seat…

Reality check: the local trains that run without seat reservation do NOT charge per seat. You pay for the ability to ride the train – not for a guarantee to land your butt onto a chair. That ability is left to ‘first come – first served’ system. If it were true that someone ever paid for the actual sitting spot on those trains, it would mean that a) ONLY the exact number of people that corresponds to the exact number of seats on the train would be able to board the trains (clearly NOT the case, as the number of passengers traveling standing up is clearly an indication of something else going on) and b) there would be a fare difference between the ticket prices between “yes you can land your bottom” and “you have to travel standing up even if the whole train is empty”. There is none. The ticket price corresponds exclusively to the distance traveled, whether you’re lucky enough to find a free chair or not.

I now regret I haven’t brought that simple fact to his attention. I should have. Uninformed citizens shall be corrected :). Instead I just put the suitcase on my lap, having on the go also ignored the “it’s hard for foreigners to understand” and “you have to pay extra fee for such big luggage” remarks – both of them utter lies. I am yet to see a single person pay extra or be demanded to pay extra for a small suitcase, or even for a huge one for that matter (yes, I seriously doubt the ginormous suitcase of the Italians sitting next to us had been paid for… or that a Dutch couple with a kid who had landed their big backpack onto one of the free seats after ‘the man’ disembarked the train paid extra for the backpack seat…), on a local train with no assigned seating. He may have confused the seating business with international or local express trains and luggage fees with actual oversize luggage on some specific train connections somewhere in the world (I can’t judge as I rarely travel by train, but I am yet to run into ANY restrictions in size (well, as long as it’s possible to fit in)/weight of luggage…

Such was my adventure set upon arrival this time :). Other than that, it’s cold but sunny and I’m looking forward to the Latin Charity Gala in Leiden tonight :).


About in shade

A cocktail of personality traits hard to digest for some but ultimately soothing for those who can. I observe, enjoy, travel, interact, photograph, dance, contemplate, write and love my way through this life's countless occurrences. This blog is a way to share with the world and its people some of the treasures they give me every day.
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