Blame it on the train
Cape Town, South Africa: Home of Nelson Mandela, host of the 2010 World Cup, and my soon-to-be filming destination for the World Vision TV spot. With this thought in mind, I'm sitting on the train between Stuttgart and Frankfurt when I realize I should have gotten off long ago if I want to make it to the Frankfurt airport - from whence my plane to Africa will soon be departing.
Tentatively, I ask my neighbor: "Doesn't this train stop at the airport?". Bewilderment. "At the airport? No way, this is the ICE Sprinter, it runs non-stop straight through to Berlin." Ah, of course, the Sprinter. My brain is awhirr with confused thoughts: if I don't get off this train this minute, I'll miss my flight. The client's already waiting for me at the airport, the film crew. . . this can't be happening. So I jump up and sprint through the Sprinter to find a solution to my problem. The conductor shuts me down in his heavy Berlin accent: "Ain't gonna happen, buddy. What are you thinking, anyway? This is the ICE Sprinter, it doesn't stop just 'cause you want it to. And anyway, that's against the law." Blood pressure, sweat, the first mild signs of a real panic attack. What now? I play the "small-children-of-this world-need-me-now-in-South Africa" card, and the conductor softens."Then ick will make a phone call. Let's see if there ain't something to be done after all." And lo and behold, three phone calls later, we've got a plan. The ICE train will make an exception for me this time: it will stop for 10 seconds – literally – in Fulda, and the middle door of Car 9 will open up and spit me out. Passengers watch with raised eyebrows as I disembark. A kindly railway employee is there to receive me and calm me down as though I'm a bit of a wacko, which, I'm sure, is exactly how I appear. She leads me to a Regional Express train bound for Frankfurt, which the railway has scheduled to wait 10 extra minutes for me at the behest of the kind conductor from Berlin. The train takes me to the airport. Meanwhile, our team in Schorndorf has managed, in an act of CID-worthy resourcefulness, to reschedule the flight at a moment's notice, and has somehow made arrangements for a lovely lady at the airport to work two hours' overtime in order to personally hand me my newly-printed ticket. Sweat-soaked and at the end of my rope, but absolutely ecstatic nonetheless, I sink down into the most uncomfortable seat on the plane between two overweight South Africans. I made it! All thanks to the train. All's well that ends well: the filming was phenomenal. The TV spots features the sonorous voice of Sky DuMont and runs a few hundred times on German television. It ends up being tremendously effective. My employees think I'm a hero that can stop an ICE in its tracks. But really, I'm a dreamer who can't get off the train in time. Side note: on the way back I had to spend a day in Johannesburg because storms kept the plane from landing for three hours, and had to be re-routed in Blomfontein. Now I've been to Blomfontein – and how many people can say that about themselves? // TJ