As I write this I’m sitting on the patio of a rural Norwegian home, looking down on a deep blue fjord, sipping a Tuborg, and reflecting once more on just how good my life is. Off in the woods there is a soft clanking sound — the sheep all seem to be bellwethers here. It is peaceful here, quiet. My host is, I think, a bit worried that I will get bored, but in fact I thrive in an environment like this.
My host is known across the Internet as Dr. Pants, who stumbled across this humble blog many years ago, left a comment, and is now stuck with me. Funny how life works, sometimes.
The journey from London to Oslo went smoothly, right up until I got off the plane. I had my instructions: call Dr. Pants and get on the train to Drammen. Piece of cake, right? I found the automatic ticket dispenser and worked my way through the ticket selection process without trouble. The price came up and I inserted my credit card. “Enter PIN” it said.
What? A PIN for a credit card? Needless to say, if I have a number for my card, I don’t know what it is. No problem; there’s always plan B. I went over to the ticket counter. A sign told me that I would have to pay extra to have a human issue my ticket, but I was OK with that. “Drammen, please,” I said. “I can’t sell you that ticket,” the guy said. “I can only sell you one to [some town that started with A].”
Hm. That was inconvenient. Time for plan C. The ticket guy directed me to a bank machine. I put in my card, pushed buttons, and the machine instantly told me “Transaction refused by your bank.” Plan C2: find a different bank machine. Same result. Fortunately, next to the second bank machine was Plan D: automated currency converter. I had (by pure luck) some English money handy. In went pounds, out came Norwegian kroner, and I was golden. Thank goodness for Plan D.
I went down to the train platform and while I waited for the train I typed up a message to Dr. Pants. I hit send, and a few minutes later that the message had not gone through. I was out of credit on my Czech phone account. With a sigh I considered plan B.
Remember a while back when I was complaining about AT&T’s “more bars in more places” ad? After that I realized that all the ads were focussing on AT&T’s coverage in Europe. Problem solved! I still had a bit of time left on my AT&T chip, so while I scooted through the Norse darkness and scattered showers I switched chips and fired up the phone. No bars. I left the chip in for a while, to see if perhaps we were just in a dead zone. No luck. (It turns out this was the time Dr. Pants chose to try calling me, but of course I had the wrong chip in the phone.)
Time for plan C. Drammen was the last stop for the train, and when I got off the station itself was closed. At least it wasn’t raining. Out front were a pair of pay phones, but if they functioned at all I never found the secret to their operation. No other phones in sight. Hm… plan D? The town was dark and quiet, and I knew that hotels are more than just pricey here.
There was one other person in sight; the conductor from the train had stopped for a smoke before moving on. I asked her, timidly, if I could borrow her phone. She agreed and I made it through to Dr. Pants, and shortly afterward I was in his car and on the way.
Plan D, not once but twice within the space of two hours. I didn’t even know I had plan D’s. But here I am, and all is well. I’ll save the details of that for another episode.