I had just looked at the pages of my Bible when The Beloved Ticket Man reappeared. He told us that the train to Verona had been delayed by fifteen minutes, so if we got off and brought our tickets right away, we could make it back. We were so relieved and excited, we jumped up and ran to the door with him. He told us how to open to the door and, when we asked about paying for our extra trip, he waved us off! He had also called the conductor of the Verona-bound train and told him that we were coming, so we didn’t have to buy tickets int he station! Awesome.
We gave Ticket Man a warm “grazie” and jumped off at Vicenza. We had to go underground to run to our next platform and it was very confusing and empty underground, but we found the correct stop and got a kick out of the sign which was announcing the “retardo delay” of our train. We were the retardos and the delay was for us!
We danced for joy on that platform and shouted praises. It was at this moment that Veriato first approached us, though we wouldn’t know his name for several more days. Veriato is a twenty-one year old Portuguese guy, but at this moment, he was a stranger who chose the wrong strangers to approach for help. If I remember correctly, he had bought at ticket for the wrong train and was wondering if he could just hop our train instead. We told him we had absolutely no idea and had been in a pickle ourselves, and he laughed and decided to give it a go and hope for the best.
As we were still talking and laughing, the train pulled up and we hopped aboard, headed back toward Verona at last, free of charge. We were so happy and excited! We assumed the very next stop was Verona (the muffled Italian intercom announcements were of little help.) The train stopped and this time we were ready. We slung our backpacks on our backs and all five of us jumped off and cheered! We were finally in fair Verona!
At this moment, one of us noticed a sign. I don’t remember what the sign said, but it wasn’t “Verona.” The station was small and looked abandoned at that hour. We were not in Verona!
Our joy turned to panic as we rushed back onto the train we had jumped off of moments before. We must’ve looked ridiculous, but all we could was laugh and shake our heads, relieved that the train hadn’t left us…wherever it was we were. At the next stop, we distinctly heard the word “Verona” on the intercom and saw the name on the sign before we ever got up from our seats. We grabbed our luggage and ran to the door and to the red lever we were now familiar with.
However, after Phoebe and Mommy hopped off, the doors closed and Daddy, Dorothy and I were left inside the train, unable to reopen the doors! At this point, we had had so much trouble and were so tired, I think we panicked a little. If my memory serves me well, we were yelling and banging on the doors and my dad was pushing every button and pulling every lever in sight. I remember my mom’s face through the window, calm and unsurprised at this new misfortune.
After a second, the doors did reopen a little and we practically pushed Dorothy through, screaming and fighting for fear of getting crushed in the powerful doors! I started to jump through after her, but in all the hubbub, my backpack strap wrapped around a pole and got caught, so I was standing on the platform, but my arm and backpack were on the train!
I think I must’ve shrieked, and Daddy unhinged my pack and set me free before making his own narrow escape! At this point, the doors decide to fully open, as the wheels are starting to turn. Veriato, undoubtedly hearing our commotion, appeared at the open door and asked if we needed help. We were able to say, “I think we’re ok!” before the doors shut and the train pulled away. You may think this would be the last time we would encounter Veriato, and that we would never know what else he was going to say…but you would be wrong…