The West Dunbartonshire Situation

The Guardian reports Missing 12-year-old girls found after night locked inside train.

Falling asleep on a train or bus past my stop was a perpetual fear of mine as a kid. I’m not sure why the prospect of waking up in Freelton or Bowmanville was so terrifying, but it was. I used to have nightmares where I’d lose the ability to talk to the bus driver and he’d blithely glide past my stop.

Years later I was waiting for my girlfriend at the train station in Brantford; when the train arrived, she didn’t get off. A few hours later—this was in the years well before mobile phones—she called from London, where she’d finally woken up. No harm no foul: I hopped in my Datsun and drove to London to retrieve her.

In 2013 Oliver and I took the train to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Except we caught the express train rather than the local, and were halfway to Osaka before we realized our error. ‘Twas easily solved: we got off at the first stop, doubled back, and were only delayed 20 minutes. Regardless, this was branded The Kyoto Situation, and has proved a helpful reminder in the years since, for both of us, that for every problem there’s a solution.

I hope their adventure provides the same comfort, ultimately, for the girls in West Dunbartonshire.


Kevin's picture
Kevin on March 22, 2021 - 13:28 Permalink

Fortunately for me, I am never comfortable enough on moving transport to sleep well enough to miss a station. I was reading Dutch Thompson's Book "Bygone Days" just yesterday and there was a story about PEI train travel and the crew were all supposed to know where everyone was getting off, even if they were asleep (or drunk). This story was about missing someone and when they discovered him, they backed the train up 5 miles to get him where he was supposed. But falling asleep did happen to my father in southern Ontario. He was awakened by the conductor and told him it was his stop. "How do you know where I'm getting off?" Dad asked. He was told it was the end of the line. He was fortunate to be able to ride it right back to where he was supposed to go.