Words and illustrations by Kieron Black
On a recent trip to Schladingming, Austria, what should have been a meat-and-two-veg type of transfer day goes spectacularly wrong for snowboarder, illustrator, and regular White Lines contributor Kieron Black, his wife Yulia, and their daughter Penny (5).
If messing up an airport transfer sport was an Olympic event, we reckon this effort from Kieron would surely take home the gold medal… and quite possibly the silver and bronze medals as well.
8.50am The Apartment
“Taxi booked for 9.30” says Yulia, “think that’s too early maybe? Our train is at 10.10, and we’ll be at the station in 5 minutes… that’s a lot of hanging around… and it’s cold!”
She is right of course. It is too early, and it’s minus ten with windchill on top. But I’m a man and a dad and I know better. I sigh in a way that some might call patronising, “babe” I say, “it’s always better to allow some extra time on a travel day, just in case the wheels come off, you know?”
The universe hears this, and laughs.
9.35am Schladming Station, Platform 3b
“F#ck you’re right it’s ballfreezing. You girls go and sit in the waiting room and I’ll wait here on the platform with the bags.”
“Alright darlin’, you do that, see you in a bit.”
A train arrives. An A4 printout on the window reads ‘Salzburg’ and a bunch of stations are listed below. Bonus – it’s early. I think of how warm in will be in the carriage and text Yulia ‘train is here x’. I begin loading the bags. First her skibag, bit of wrestling, get it on the shelf, nae bother. Back for her bootbag, easier than the skis, but the train door hisses shut as I reach it.
“Fear rises inside of me like whitewater surging up a tidal blowhole.”
I press the green button, the door opens and I jump out. I grab her bootbag, stick it on the shelf, too easy. Back to the door. It has Star Trek’d itself shut again. I press the green button. Nothing. I press it again and also the red one beside it just in case. Still nothing.
I see the train across the way pull out. I wonder if maybe the door not opening is a security thing, like it won’t open if there’s another moving train close by? These Austrians are very efficient people, after all.
The carriage lurches a little. I have a dim awareness of something being not quite right with the world.