We go to the hotel´s SAT (Special Assistance Service Desk) team office as we need a taxi to the railway station. We´re taking the ICE home instead of flying as we usually do, at least this was the connection we were given. I appreciate this as we hardly ever travel by train.
We get to talking with a Lufthansa technician who is presently supporting the SAT team. He also expresses his horror at what the co-pilot did; that he used a perfectly maintained and intact airbus to murder all the passengers. He tells us that Germanwings aircraft are considered to be extremely safe. It´s a nightmare that a colleague was capable of committing such a heinous crime.
One of the team orders a luxurious hotel shuttle instead of a taxi to take us to Cologne central station.
I´ll be happy to be home again as these trips are very emotionally draining. The memorial service in the Cathedral has not left us unscathed.
The shuttle pulls up quickly, brakes and waits in front of the hotel. The technician says a warm goodbye. Although the station is nearby it takes quite a bit of time as one of the bridges over the Rhine is closed for construction. Finally we reach the platform and wait for the train. Just before the scheduled departure time the overhead platform indicator sign shows that our train has been cancelled. No reason given. Just cancelled. I´m absolutely shocked. Setbacks like this are an additional strain on my nerves, which are already shot. I bawl like a small child. “What do we do now?? I want to go home.”
“We´re getting in a taxi and going back to the hotel. The SAT team has to help us. This is not ok!”
I´m relieved at the decision.
The two Lufthansa employees look astonished as we come into their office. I sob and can barely speak.
They learn about our experience and before they look for another train they offer me a coffee. I start to calm down.
One of them checks the computer and confirms that at the weekend the most reasonable means of transport from Cologne to Leipzig is the German railway.
He looks at the clock. “The next ICE leaves in just under an hour so we´ll make it. I will personally put you on the train!”
They call a taxi and we all go back together. In front of the station it´s jammed with pedestrians, cars and bicycles.
I hear a thud against the car next to me. A cyclist who I just saw has suddenly disappeared. Did he run her over? I think without emotion. I say nothing and no one seems to have noticed anything. After driving around for a little while the taxi driver finds a parking space where he can wait for the Lufthansa employees.
He gets out and the cyclist lets loose a torrent of insults against him in a shrill voice.
“Oh God, who knows what else is going to happen,” I mutter to myself.
The three of us go to the platform and the ICE pulls into the station. We get on and find seats. The nice SAT team employee waves goodbye.
At every stop we are forced to change seats as our reservations were for the train which was cancelled. It´s not possible to sit in second class because no seats are available. To make matters worse the LED reservation display is not working so that we can´t see which seats are reserved.
Two more stops and then we have to change trains.
For no apparent reason the train stops on the tracks for what seems like an eternity, resulting in announcement that we may not make our connecting trains.
“I just want to go home.” I start crying again.
We reach the station. Luckily our train is waiting on the opposite platform.
“I swear I´m never getting on a train again. Never!”
My husband laughs. “The guy from the Weisser Ring who doubted if we would get home was right.”
We light the Cathedral candle for Jens in the evening when we finally arrive home.
© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum