Alexandra's Notebook

Luckiest Person Alive

Some of the scariest things happen without our knowledge, as happened to me one time that, until a few days later, I didn’t know how lucky I had been. The anniversary of this incident is on May 23 (1977).

Let me start at the beginning. I was about to take a break back home, to the UK. Had booked my passage right on through to my parent’s home town: train from our local station Roermond to Hook of Holland in Amsterdam to catch the overnight ferry to Harwich, where I’d catch the early morning train into London. And from there, a train up north. It was all organised thanks to a chance meeting.

A few weeks earlier I had been sat with friends in a bar in the Dutch town of Roermond, enjoying a beer and a guy sat down next to me and likewise, ordered a beer. He turned to me, smiled and, from that point on, we started chatting. And before I know it, a couple of hours had passed and I was making arrangements to meet Jan, a few doors down from the bar, to book my trip back to the UK. Turns out, he was a travel agent.

At that point, till I sat down an hour later at his desk in the business he owned and ran, I had planned to get a very early train into Amsterdam to spend as much time as I could sightseeing and or shopping before making my way to the ferry terminal. As it turned out, Jan persuaded me I really didn’t need to get up with the birds to get an early start and I could take a later train, go via Eindhoven, and still be in Amsterdam to enjoy most of the day there, as the boat didn’t sail till 8pm. So I’d have plenty of time to do whatever I wanted and still make it with time to spare.

So I changed my plans thanks to this charming talker who was as interested in travel as I was and who was fascinated by all the places I had visited. We hit it off and quite often from that point met at the bar for a drink and a chat. By the way he was married, it wasn’t like that. He became a really good acquaintance and I booked all my future travel through him, from there on in.

The result on this particular day I took a wholly different route and went off to enjoy my week’s holiday with family never knowing that, if I had stuck to my plan, and taken the trains I was supposed to, I would have been on the wrong train, at the wrong time, and could have found myself literally in a life or death situation.

What did I miss by meeting Jan and changing plans?


By sheer luck or divine intervention? Who knows, I’ll take both and consider myself one of the luckiest people alive.