If Life Gives You Green Underwear…

As it happens, I did not have a great week last week. It was a family thing. Some stuff happened, and some other stuff did not happen. Nobody died, and at worst it has put on hold for a while what I thought was a good idea.

Any life will have setbacks – it is the human condition. I have written about it before. I think that www.sneddencampbell.co.uk/blog/reality-bites/ was my best attempt at explaining things recently.

So, last week I spent about 15 hours in the car; you get a lot of thinking time on British motorways over 15 hours.

I got to thinking, is there a name for the occasional cock-ups that we make in life, the ones that do not kill us but instead make us wiser?

I have a story that I have told many times now but never actually written down. As the story is coming up to its fourth anniversary then this might just be the moment.

November in the Northern hemisphere, if we are honest with ourselves, is not the greatest time of the year. The US has tried to jazz it up a bit with Thanksgiving and in the UK we now start Christmas on the first week of the month. However, these efforts only make the merest dent in the armour of a dingy month of frosty drizzle.

The burghers of Dusseldorf have come up with a solution to the unrelenting late autumn grimness by putting on a huge medtech trade show called Medica. If you have been there it requires no introduction. If you have not been there you need to know that it is a huge event that goes on for the best part of a week. Among the consequences of the show are high prices, rich bar owners and limited availability of accommodation.

For many years I have stayed in a small (and cheap) hotel in a town with a railway station on the way to Cologne. The upside of this is that it saves a lot of money (you get a free rail pass with your Medica ticket). The downside is that it takes a bit of logistical and transport nous to get there.

In this particular year, there had not been any direct flights from Scotland to Dusseldorf on days that were of use to me for some time. Because of this, I had worked out that if I flew to Amsterdam (cheap direct flight with EasyJet) I could take the ICE express train to Dusseldorf main station and from there a local train to my destination.

And so, I headed off. The flight was uneventful and on time. The big white ICE train (final destination Cologne) did exactly what it was supposed to do between Amsterdam and Dusseldorf and I made the local train connection with time to get a coffee. I was feeling pretty good with myself.

I got the hotel, checked in, went to my room and opened up my new black trolley bag to hang everything up.

My new black trolley bag contained: a pair of high heeled shoes, a laptop and quite a lot of green silk underwear. It was, in fact, the new black trolley bag of a lady German estate agent. I had taken the wrong bag off the train.

The solution to my self-created problem was to hyperventilate and then go to the front desk of the hotel. When I had explained to the young lady what had happened she stopped laughing long enough to call the lost property office in Cologne who did indeed have a very nice unclaimed black trolley bag which they would put on the morning train to Dusseldorf for as little as €112.

The following morning, thanks to a pleasingly expensive taxi ride via Dusseldorf railway station’s parcel office (available languages, German) I swapped bags and made it to a rapid change in the exhibition hall toilets and my first meeting.

I received a short letter from a German estate agent some weeks later thanking me for reuniting her with her underwear.

Back to my original question, is there a name for the occasional cock-ups that we make in life that do not kill us but make us wiser?

May I humbly propose, “Having a Green Underwear Day”?

The key points to remember here are:

  • You can avoid having a Green Underwear Day in the first place by never assuming that you have done everything right even though you think you have
  • Try not to panic but if you must, do it where no one can see you
  • There is usually a solution to the problem that will cost you money
  • If you do lose all your kit and have to wear the jeans that you travelled in do not wear a shirt and tie with them as people will assume that you are a waiter.
Posted on: 29th October 2018 by Ivor Campbell

Into his fourth decade of search Ivor has a voice with stories to tell, observations to make and the odd picture to share. Mostly related to the day job.

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