“You’ll get rich!” They say.
Books, movies, podcasts, seminars, courses, classes, clubs, memberships.
Everybody sellin’ a dream. Paradise awaits. Book your ticket today on the Entrepreneur Express.
They neglect to mention the transit time and difficulty.
EuroRail it ain’t.
An email arrives from a prospective client. He wants to meet!
Sounds great…on the surface.
However, there are other factors to consider:
– It’s a two hour train ride to another province, and tickets are expensive.
– You just gave away half of your net worth in spare change to a bum covered in paint outside the grocery store.
Not unlike Christopher Columbus petitioning royals to invest in discovering The New World, you find yourself with a difficult journey ahead and few resources to finance it.
How do you cope?
Turns out you don your Sunday best.
Jacket and tie. Shirt and pants kindly ironed by a desert gypsy with pink dreadlocks. Smart sunglasses and a fabric square in the front jacket pocket complete the ensemble.
You depart to much fanfare from the gypsy.
Visions of warriors heading off to battle with fair maidens bidding them adieu. Tears of dread and admiration.
Victory or death.
You soon find yourself on a train headed for Business Meeting Destination, having necessarily skipped out on such antiquated formalities as “buying a ticket”.
As luck would have it, for the first time in dozens of trips, they’re checking for said tickets.
The penalty for traveling without a ticket is €60 euros paid on the spot, public shame and expulsion at the next stop.
“Meneer. Uw reiskaart alstublieft.”
“Uhh, I…umm…Sorry. I uh-uh…” Act suave.
With an apologetic tone — though not TOO apologetic, you explain to the train ticket controller that, being very late to the station and having a Very Important Business Meeting to attend, you were unable to purchase a ticket.
Season with a dash of Being Above Such Trifles, and feign a Bogart-esque, Intercontinental accent if in your repertoire.
Don’t worry, he’ll see the pocket square (purchased in previous, more prosperous times).
It helps if you actually were running late (undoubtedly the gypsy’s fault).
You neglect to mention that, even if you had been 10 hours early, you still couldn’t have paid for the damn ticket.
“That’s quite alright, sir! I apologize for your inconvenience.” The ticket man seems delighted.
Would the sir be so kind as to purchase a ticket for his return journey at the station. Ticket machines are located at his sir’s convenience. All major credit cards accepted.
Yes, the sir would be so kind as to do so. However, it will have to be after the meeting and what not with time being what it is and what have you.
Yes, of course. The Netherlands is a friendly country for Business Travelers, you see.
Crisis averted. Seems fate does smile on the foolhardy.
With your private helicopter still on backorder, you must switch trains in Haarlem.
In your haste to reach the train from Amsterdam in time, you suddenly realize certain biological needs were neglected.
Needs that will need to be administered to at once in Haarlem.
First constructed in 1839, The Haarlem Central Train Station — photo attached — features a neo-classical core which has since been expanded upon by the worst-of-the-worst in modern, socialist, utilitarian architecture and taste.
The bathroom is conveniently located in the center of the main train platform.
It has one of those old-timey, pull-string toilets like what they hid the pistol behind in The Godfather Part I.
The facility is guarded by a shriveled, leather-skinned gentleman who may very well have had the job since the station’s founding.
Picture Gollum, but instead of protecting the greatest power on Earth, his Precious is a toilet.
The cost to enter is 50 Euro cents, which happens to be 50 cents above the budget for your journey.
You explain your predicament in flawed Dutch to Gollum.
You have to cross golden creek at once but are unable to pay the toll for lack of loose change. This is in no way an indictment on your financial circumstances or greater standing in society, of course. Chest out to emphasize the pocket square.
“Nee. Dat kan niet,” says Gollum.
Perhaps there’s been some sort of mistake. Undoubtedly owing to language difficulties.
“Ja, nee. Ik snap het. Je mag niet binnengaan.”
You’ve been denied entry into night clubs, universities, and even women but never to a toilet.
Out of options and with a bladder reaching maximum capacity, you search the heavens for inspiration.
You channel the creativity of all the greats from history — Shakespeare, Beethoven, Mozart, Da Vinci, and Macho Man Randy Savage.
You strike upon a plan.
In perfect posture, you stride across the train platform — Alexander’s troops never marched with such purpose!
You arrive at the platform’s precipice.
The tips of your just-polished loafers hang over the edge. Only damp Haarlem air separates your toes from gravel and train tracks.
You look skyward as a beam of sunshine falls upon you. Destiny.
Gollum watches behind your back — wondering, waiting.
A wily grin crosses your face as your hands unbutton and then part the flaps of your Seersucker suit jacket.
You feel the chill of metal on you fingertips, and a cool blast of Dutch wind blows through your undercarriage.
A golden torrent rains upon the train tracks below.
One of the finest you can ever remember. Noteworthy for both its intensity and duration. A case study of the ages for urology students.
Relief becomes you. Your bladder shrivels back to baseline levels.
The deed done and your saber sheathed, you turn to face your nemesis.
He crouches stoically. A momentary standoff ensues. You perceive an ever-so-slight squint of his eyes. He concedes defeat.
You raise your chin proudly and walk into your just-arrived train.
The duration of your journey awaits.
Later, the meeting is a smashing success. You close the deal that day.
That’s no small feat in a business culture which requires six months and fourteen meetings among three committees to buy a coffee machine.
Through a miracle of persuasion, you even negotiate a down payment to be made on the spot via bank transfer.
That means you can buy a train ticket back home.
You can even afford to piss.