3 Seconds Early and 2 Hours Late
Late but alive. I can work with that.
The conductor said that if the plane had been only 3 seconds longer in the air, he would have been on top of us.Our train did one of those jolts that you’d recognize if you’ve been on a lot of trains: it felt like we just disengaged a car (or more) from our train. We were stopped, still just at the end of the village station in the middle of Germany. Silence. A crackle and finally an announcement.
My German used to be good. Well, it’s still good, just a little buried in my brain somewhere. There was something about a small airport nearby, an airplane and tracks. A little more something and then a bit about “retten” and a pilot. Retten is to save, like a life, not money. That didn’t sound good. The conductor didn’t know more other to say that we probably weren’t going anywhere soon and if we wanted, we could step out onto the platform and look ahead and see the airplane.
Sure enough, there was a small plane on fire a few hundred meters down the tracks. We were in the middle of fields and there wasn’t much else around and it was clear to see the wings stretched out over the tracks in both directions. Tracks where we would have been in a few more minutes.
Sure, it was a small plane, maybe it wouldn’t have done much damage to a strong, German train. Right? Well, if the gasoline tanks didn’t explode. If our car wasn’t a direct hit.
Within minutes, there were fire trucks, sirens, and we could see that white foam stuff shooting out over the tracks ahead. A helicopter soon circled and landed. Another announcement. I didn’t get all the details, but the meaning was pretty clear: there aren’t any trains going in either direction, so you’re on your own. Not even a suggestion as to what to do. I heard chatter from the 50-or-so people nearby. Taxi, bus, airport shuttle to Frankfurt Airport, then the train, hours delay, wait here and see. My cellphone didn’t work in Germany (well, it was supposed to, but I was out of my prepaid money) and I didn’t have WiFi either.
I talked with a few people and some suggested a taxi to nearby Langen, then maybe the S-Bahn (regional train) would be running. If not, a taxi to Frankfurt, but that would be very expensive.
Finally, I called the friend I had just visited and he picked us up and brought us straight to Frankfurt. We caught the next train to Holland and all was well.
When we got home, I see that it had made several news agencies (links below). I was saddened to hear that the woman co-pilot didn’t make it.
On a somewhat odd side note, I was talking to my uncle’s wife, hmm, I guess that’d be my aunt … never thought of her that way … and told them the story and she said, “Now I’m going to get up into your business, but you just listen up.” That’s how she talks. “You just know that you weren’t meant to go today. You see, you have things to do still. In fact, you have something to write and it’s going to make an important impact on someone.”
Well, that came out of left field. But I don’t really believe in coincidences anymore and I don’t doubt what people tell me. I don’t have to believe it, but it don’t doubt that they believe it … if that makes any sense.
So that’s what happened today. 3 seconds earlier and 2 hours late.