I had a group of 15 passengers with me, and we had finally arrived in Warsaw, Poland. It took us 12 hours to get there (our train was delayed 4 hours because someone committed suicide by throwing themselves in front of the train! I was horrified, but my passengers took it quite calmly. Then, after 4 hours of waiting we were taken off the train and herded onto buses to take us the rest of the way), but we were finally in the right city.
Just nowhere near the hotel, since traffic was diverted so they dropped us on the wrong side of town.
Stern self-pep talk! It wasn’t my first time in Warsaw, I had a pretty good idea of the public transportation and I knew which trams ran near the hotel. I just had to find a route map, and I could figure it out.
And I did! by some miracle I found the right tram stop on my very first attempt (this was important, since we were dragging luggage with us, the average age of my passengers was about 70 and we had to climb stairs to get to the platform).
Not only that, but I had enough polish zloty (that’s their currency) to buy tickets for the whole group at the machine.
But wait! The ticket machine is broken, and I had no idea where else I could go to buy them. Not only that, but I see the correct tram coming towards us!
So I panicked. In a quiet and professional manner, of course. I ushered the passengers onboard, hoping there was a way to buy tickets directly from the driver.
So now I am responsible for myself and 15 passengers SNEAKING on the tram in Warsaw! And I’m the only one who knows it!
No worries though, I mean, how often do they check tickets anyway?
Well, at least once.
We’re halfway to the hotel when I spot a ticket inspector make his way though the tram cart just before ours.
FUCK!!! Inside I’m shitting myself, but outwards I simply smile to the passengers and explain that we need to get off at the next stop to change tram.
I keep a close eye on the ticket inspector as he comes closer and closer, while WILLING the next stop to appear.
It finally does, and I herd the passengers off just as the inspector reaches our cart.
Passenger: “Which tram are we taking from here, Mighty Leader?”
Me: “Number 25, for 6 more stops.”
Passenger: “Isn’t that the same one we just got off?”
Me: “Um, yeeeeeeeeah. Eh, the number 25-line splits and goes off in two different directions after this stop. It’s the same line, but different direction.”
They buy it and the next tram arrives barely 10 minutes later.
I hold my breath for the next six stops in case the ticket inspector comes on after finishing on the last tram.
He doesn’t and we make it to the hotel. I get the passengers checked in, and I head straight to the bar. Where I drink. A lot.
Two years later, I still carry around 20 Warsaw tram tickets in my wallet. Just in case!