I have a love hate relationship with tickets. Give me a ticket and I will misplace it; not lose it exactly – I don’t remember ever actually losing a ticket – but lose it enough that ticket inspectors move on grumbling they’ll have to come back later, or that the entire contents of my bag is on the floor at the front of the queue before I gain access to wherever I am heading. Ask me for my ticket and my heart rate soars, while my brain goes into shutdown. It’s not that I’m not prepared for the ticket check, I am, and that’s what makes my tendency all the more infuriating. Every time I get a ticket, I put it somewhere I can find it quickly. But just two words, ‘tickets please’, send me into a spin of panic from within which I can neither remember where the ticket is or find the inner calm to deal efficiently with the situation.
I have misplaced tickets in airports, cinemas, museums and theatres; on buses, trains and cable cars. I excelled myself by misplacing my ticket three times on my progression up the Eiffel tower on my first, (and last), school trip abroad. My teacher was incandescent by the third episode. That was over thirty years ago and I never seem to become more competent. So there you are – habitual ticket misplacer.
Once that ticket becomes used however, it’s a different matter. I hate to throw them away. In a time where so many of us are pushed for space, it’s not possible to keep all the memorabilia we might perhaps wish to. Reminders of trips, days out, holidays, chance meetings, planned gatherings; they are all whittled down. But tickets, these tiny slips of card and paper, taking up minimal room, can be kept. Each ticket opens a spring loaded trap door in my brain allowing memories to spill out; precious, cherished memories.
Train tickets are a particular thing with me. Many of the major events of my life have begun with a train journey; a trip to an interview, a university, an airport. Small events too, but all with their special memories. I have train tickets slipped into the rarely used pockets of my purse, in my organiser, zipped into the back of my bag, used as bookmarks. I come across them now and then and the memories flood back; pools of happiness in a maybe otherwise grey day.
I made one of those special journeys last Saturday. My passion for squirrelling away tickets did not help me. In both directions I could be found muttering, pulling random out-of-date train tickets from deep inside my bag, guard standing over me tapping his foot. In both directions the guard sighed heavily and told me he’d be back to check later – neither guard came back. But I know I will not learn my lesson. I will not throw last weekends ticket away. You see, that ticket has taken on a meaning of its own now. It marks the start of another journey. This journey. The journey to believe in me again.