We arrived at the Queen Street station at 7:30am and were told immediately we were in the wrong place. We had to then carry all our luggage up a flight of exterior stairs in the rain to stand on a street corner to wait for the bus. In the relay from the station to the appointed street corner, the bag holding the field equipment said “no more!” and protested any additional movement by shedding a wheel. I was then spared the indignity of dragging that 49.5 pounds by having to carry it. I was smart enough to switch it from one arm to the other so as to not come back with one gargantuan arm and one of normal size. At least we were covered from the mist while waiting for the bus, but thunderstorms of a different sort were brewing!
Svetlana is wonderful! She is sweet, funny, honest, direct, and most of the time, agreeable with just about anything. She is, however, fearless when complaining, arguing, or castigating a shopkeeper, receptionist, or random train official. With that as background, what happened next is perhaps more understandable…
At the corner we were met with a man in a yellow vest who politely told us their buses didn’t go to Mallaig. I told him we were told twice by station agents that they did. He kept stonewalling us, so I walked back to Queen Street and had a manager promise me they did. I walked back to the corner and relayed what they had told me. He held firm that that they would only take us as far as Fort William and then we would take a train to Mallaig, despite the fact that no trains were running on that line. As my cheeks reddened and I became increasingly frustrated that ScotRail had no clue what it was doing, Svetlana stepped in to resolve the issue.
Svetlana walked back to the station, drug the agent out to our position on the corner almost by the nape of the neck to explain to our vested gentleman that he was mistaken. They proceeded to argue between themselves until he called his supervisor who showed up to make the argument a triangular affair! Svetlana turned to me with a sly smile and winked, as if to say “I love causing trouble!” I’ve now started calling her “the velvet hammer” because if she can’t get someone to do something out of kindness, she has the ability to switch tactics and pummel them into humiliating submission. Maybe that is something they teach in elementary school back in Serbia.
After all the kerfuffle, it was determined that we should take the bus to Fort William, wait an hour, and then proceed on to Mallaig on a different bus. I should report that all of that went off without a hitch. We arrived in Mallaig a bit earlier than promised, shared a meal at a local tea room, and then boarded the ferry for Lochboisdale at 5pm.