Monday 20 January 2014

And then there was the one about the Englishman, the Irishman and...

"Three A, M&C journalists faced a test - two failed!" is the title of a piece by the (English) editor of the Industrial Automation & Process Control Insider (IAI - soon to be under new management!). Perhaps because the "man from Galway" came from the Irish speaking part of Ireland it is correct to indicate that as a separate identity to "Irishman!" Be that as it may we thought our readers would enjoy this story.

"Three journalists, an Englishman, an Irishman and a man from Galway, deep in the far west of Ireland, went on a press trip to Switzerland (see our report "Raising the bar at Baar!"). Fairly competent at handling the complexities of automation and control systems, the air travel was straightforward. From there it was just a simple task to transfer downstairs to the railway station underneath the airport, to catch a train and travel the few stops to the destination.

However, here was a challenge that was to test their capabilities in driving another automated system. Undaunted by such trivia, all three stepped up, side by side, to face three of the robotic ticket dispensing machines, for there was a train due to depart in only 5 minutes.

The reckoning

Heading quickly for the platform with ticket(s) in hand, everything seemed OK: all three had spent the same amount of money. But sitting down in the train there seemed to be a difference between the three tickets, both in terms of colour, thickness, and number of pieces of paper – the man from Galway had two.

Now as perhaps the man from Galway was the only true European citizen, and more accustomed to foreign travel, the Englishman and the Irishman asked why he had two tickets? He explained that he did not really know how this had happened, but since the machines were tri-lingual, he had chosen to use German as the language on the screen to get some practice and brush up his German skill. So maybe this was a special system applying to German travellers, because the Englishman and the Irishman had used English as their screen language.

Judgement day
There was no need to worry, because all would soon be explained by the friendly ticket collector lady, who was coming down the train. First to show his ticket was the Englishman, and the lady did not seem very impressed, but also did not seem to speak much English.

There was some mention of an 80 Swiss Franc fine, which did not sound too bad, until a quick calculation showed this was around $90. Apparently the Englishman had got the right ticket, but it was for use sometime in the future, and should have been stamped in the handy little time stamp machine on the edge of the platform, or somewhere, before boarding the train.

After much discussion to try to understand each other, ably assisted by the Irishman and the man from Galway, whose dialect the lady possibly found even more confusing, she decided the Englishman was just another tourist of limited intelligence and would be let off.

The last straw
In trepidation the Irishman offered his ticket, and the Inspector lady seemed pleased, in her own way – he had done everything right (possibly), and it seemed OK.

Then of course there was the man from Galway, with his two tickets. They were the same of course, because they were both half fare tickets for children. There was not much conversation about this, the lady just wrote something unintelligible across the tickets, muttered something about that we should pay an 80 Swiss Franc fine really, and then maybe there was something about our competence in travelling on our own - and she went on down the train to seek help for her sanity."

 And friends this story is true!

 I know, I was that guy from Galway!

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