You need to leave now. Fortunately, you have train tickets.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My husband and I were in London, waiting to board the Eurostar train to Paris.

We were happy to sit - after making it through customs - and with the pause had a chance to scan our travel mates.

Some were sleeping. Others were reading newspapers. A few were deep in conversation with imaginary cats. One gentleman in particular was doing all three at once.

My husband offered to get me a snack in an effort to help ease my fears of traveling deep beneath the English Channel with potentially delusional companions.

He returned within seconds.

"Show me our tickets," he hissed.

"Why?" I questioned, "Are we at the wrong station? Did we come on the wrong day? Are we going to train jail?"

"Just show them to me, will ya?"

I did, and from there, our trip took an exciting turn.

We had First Class tickets, which meant we would be fed during our journey and possibly secluded from the masses. What it also meant was we had access to the First Class Lounge my adventurous partner had just discovered.

Through the glass walls, we could see soft leather chairs and elegant people gliding about with nary a make-believe cat in sight. We walked up to the door and it opened automatically for us. I heard angels singing. We transitioned from the loud sounds and obnoxious smells of the station proper, to the calm serenity of the lounge. It was breathtaking. Classical music played  as we were enveloped by the scent of fresh lavender. People in business suits were being fed grapes and oatmeal cookies. It was the closest I had ever been to heaven.

We were busy absorbing our luxurious surroundings when a man in uniform approached. 

He asked to see our tickets. I happily obliged. Then suddenly, the music stopped, all eyes turned to us and all I could smell was feet.

Man: You need to leave. Now.

Us: Pardon?

Man: Your tickets do not give you access to this lounge.

Me (confidently): We have First Class tickets.

Man (smugly): This lounge is for Business Class. First Class does not have a lounge. 

Husband: We forgot our suits.

Man:  Do you have an American Express card?

Husband (lying): Yes. Yes we do.

Man: May I see it?

Us: Nevermind.

Walking out of the lounge was not nearly as much fun as it was going in. 

I considered running back in and finding a spot under a table - but that would have been difficult, given the two large male escorts assisting us out the door. And by large male escorts, I don't mean the kind you see in expensive hotels and restaurants with really old wine. 

As the din of the station pierced my ears, I took a rock hard seat beside the sleep-talking, newspaper-reading cat-man, while my deflated husband went to buy one exorbitantly priced bag of stale crisps for us to share.

Once home - our trip over - I glued those tickets in a scrapbook with the words: Don't sneak into the business lounge at St. Pancras station in London (unless you like male escorts, in which case you should go ahead).

No, really.

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