Three drunks, two travellers and one wrong assumption

Over the last few years, I have consciously tried to work on my tendency to jump to conclusions – to make judgments and assumptions about people and situations based on my own brief impression, laced with all my own personal baggage. I don’t always succeed (something I blame most recently on having moved to the Gold Coast – honestly, sometimes this place offers up things so comical they are just begging for a little eye-rolling…), but I try nonetheless!

I was dealt an interesting lesson at 8am one morning in a train station in Zurich. We had just driven a few hours from a small town in Germany,  dropped off our hire car and were waiting to board our first of three trains that day in order to get to Leogang in Austria that night. It was a finally-timed schedule with no contingencies (a missed train meant waiting until the next day, and missing the main reason we were going to Leogang, the World Cup DH race).

As we had been mountain biking at a few places we stayed, we had two bike bags, in addition to normal backpacks and other luggage. I left Michael in the basement of the station, surrounded by this impossibly-large amount of luggage in order to visit the ladies. When I returned, I found a pretty Swiss girl having an intensely close and animated discussion with him, with two other young guys standing (in my mind: loitering) off to the side.

All were rather drunk and the cans in their hands suggested the night had not yet come to an end. All I could think was that the girl was trying to distract us while the guys grabbed our stuff. (There were few other people around and we were underneath the platforms at this stage. Think: dingy, poorly-lit, encircled by close-talking drunks, whose English is not fantastic and making the whole thing a babbly guessing game. Wonderful). Let’s throw these guys and get to the platform before we miss our train, I thought.

The most relevant image of Zurich Hardbrucke I could find... get my vibe?? via
The most relevant image of Zurich Hardbrucke I could find… get my vibe?? via

We spent a few minutes fending off their offers of a beer and making small talk as we wove our way to the lifts. At some point, we must have said which train we were catching.

One of the guys looked concerned, and told us he thought we were at the wrong station.


Whipping out his phone, he quickly checks the Swiss Rail website, works out we are at the wrong station (turns out Zurich Hardbrücke is not Zurich HB…. rookie error….) and that we have just a few minutes to jump on another train at this station, get to the correct station, race to the correct platform and board our train.

Thanking them profusely, we race off and all ends well (but only just – we spent a lot of that day throwing luggage on to trains that were within seconds of leaving the platform). As I’m jumping from train to train, I can’t help thinking how horribly wrong my initial judgment had been, and how different the next few days of our holiday would have looked if I’d told them to get lost, as I’d been tempted to do.

The big lesson for me was to not be so quick to judge – yes, they were drunk and it was 8am and that girl was way too close to my new husband for my liking. But ultimately, they were just having a fun time and enjoying practicing their English. They were incredibly hospitable, really (they were actually quite keen to buy us a drink!), and without that conversation we would have sat at the wrong station until well after our train had left the correct station, and who knows what would have happened after that.

It can still be a challenging principle to apply (some of the ads you see on buses around here….), but it’s one that generally leads to happier days and better relationships.

Anyone else every jumped to conclusions (or not) and experienced some interesting consequences?


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