She was running late that morning, and nothing was where it was supposed to be. Her bag was a disaster, her laptop case in complete disarray, and the laptop had a dead battery since she forgot to charge it. She wasn’t getting any work done on the train this morning, but maybe she could gather up some reading to catch up on. That meant digging through the inbox, finding documents, and synchronizing them to her iPad.
The clock flashed 7:23, and if she wanted to catch the 7:50 train, she knew she needed to get on the road for her 10 minute drive to the train station. She couldn’t afford a random 10-15 minute backup that weren’t unheard of at this hour.
“Hon”, croaked her husband, who lie sick in bed.
“What?”, she asked, trying not to sound annoyed.
“Can you get me a glass of water before you go?”, came the weak response. She looked at his bedside and found his normally fill canteen was empty.
“Yea… I’ll try”, she said as she pushed things around in her bags.
About 7:26 she made it to the front door, and realized she hadn’t gotten the water. She weighed her options. Get water, potentially miss train, or leave her 43 year old husband, who despite being sick was more than capable of getting water eventually, to his own devices. In the end the guilt got the best of her, and she got him the drink.
“Thanks”, he said, as he drank a sip and reached out for a goodbye hug. She didn’t have time for it, but she felt sorry for him. He’d been so attentive to her in the past, so she waited the extra minute for him to hug her and say goodbye. Then she was out the door like a rocket.
And she was more than a bit upset when she got to the train station at 7:49, parked, and missed the train by less than a minute. She’d have to take the 8:10. She found a bench at the train station, wrote some quick emails rescheduling her first appointment, and tried to start working. At least there was a power outlet her she could siphon some power off for her computer.
At 8:09 she made her way to the platform and stepped on to the train. Her phone vibrated with an alert and she ignored it. She was always getting alerts from various services she subscribed to, some about traffic, some about the weather, some about things she only cared about once in a short while. This one would just have to be ignored.
Until she looked out the window and saw the strangest sight. The train slowed down and passed another train sitting on the tracks. At the slow speed she could see that it was the train she normally took. In fact, she saw a friend of hers sitting in their usual seat. She quickly pulled out her phone and saw the alert was from a service for rail passengers. It talked about a delay in her general vicinity. She looked up her friend’s number and dialed. The other line picked up quickly, as if her friend was already staring at her phone.
“Rita, what’s going on?”, she asked.
“Our train broke down!”, Rita exclaimed, “And now we’re waiting for a tow back to the hub, where we can transfer. Probably won’t get into the city until 9:30 or 10 at this rate”. They chatted for a few moments before hanging up. She didn’t have the heart to tell Rita she had just passed her – so she said she had gone in earlier, which technically would be correct adjusting for their new arrival times.
As they finished their call, she got another message, this time from her husband. It simply read “Sorry to make you late with my requests – hope all is well”. It was all well, after an ironic twist of fate. She realized that sometimes small differences create other small differences, a glass of water, an ironic reduction in delay. But the perspective to see the important small differences from the trivial – that was what made the big difference after all!