Following the first part of my unbelievable story of failure and persistence, this last portion shows you how I turned obstacles and tenacity into boldness and audacity. You have to realize that when back up into a corner, you only have two choices: either fight or give up. What would you do?
Now, let’s continue from where we left off in the initial story. It was around 8 o’clock in the morning when I arrived at destination, the train station in the center of Warsaw, Poland. The last thing I ate was on the train, early the previous evening and at this point, I had nothing left.
After getting some water from the sink in the men’s rooms, I thought to myself “What to do, hitchhiking again?” “No, from here, it is impossible.” As I watched all the trains, I thought “Yes, of course, the train!” To my persistence, I now had to add boldness and resourcefulness.
I went and looked at the schedules for the next train going closer to my journey’s end. The nearest place was Berlin, Germany. There was a departure three hours later, at 11:25 am. I had no choice but try to get in. And I begin to think about the best way to sneak in without a ticket.
So, I looked at earlier trains to observe how the conductors checked passengers. Their actions were precisely the opposite of what I knew. They were not checking tickets when you enter the wagon but while the train is on its way. In Ukraine, there is a conductor for each carriage. And they check passengers for tickets before they enter the wagon. All of a sudden, my persistence grew into audacity.
Here was my chance! I waited for my train to Berlin and got into the last wagon. I left my luggage in one of the compartments. Then I realized that there were not a lot of people in my wagon. So, I started to walk along all the wagons and back. This way, I could see any ticket controller coming my way.
Persistence Forcing Chance
Suddenly, my heart raced as I saw three controllers checking tickets in the back of the wagon. My only option now was to walk to the first cart. I then locked myself in the restrooms and waited for fate. There, I thought about all plausible ways as I gathered my persistence and determination to overcome this barrier.
I heard one of the conductors knocking at the door and asked me for my ticket. So, I unlocked the door and told him that it was in my luggage in the last compartment of the train. He decided to walk with me to the final wagon to verify my ticket.
But as we were passing in a wagon full of people, with me in front of him, several persons stopped him and asked questions. In holding him back, I felt the urgency to continue walking, hoping that he would not call for me to wait. Persistence and boldness were compelling me to keep going.
An Incredible Blend of Persistence and Audacity
I then went straight to my compartment where I closed the curtain over the door. There, I was alone, and so, I spoke to divine intervention asking for the conductor to forget about me. My heart was pounding so strongly that every footstep was putting me on guard but he did not come.
I felt somewhat relieved. However, worse things were going to happen. I fell asleep of exhaustion for around an hour until another conductor came in, pulling the curtain. This time, it was a woman. She said “Your ticket sir?” So I gathered all of my persistence. And then, with all seriousness and a lot of audacity, I said “Your colleague has already checked my ticket. So I believe it to be enough, don’t you think so?”
The woman looked at me, nodded a yes and left without another word. I was even surprised at my audacity as she closed the door behind her and walked away. A few minutes later, German and Polish customs agents came in to check my passport for a few seconds and left. I realized that we were then on the virtual borderline between Germany and Poland.
Creativity through Persistence
The first city we stopped at, in Germany, had to be Frankfurt. So I looked out the window, only to see the three Polish conductors who were on the train, walking away. They finished work. I then looked in the corridor of the wagon and saw new controllers, German this time. This time, I knew that my persistence and playing a poker face would get me nowhere.
Therefore, I decided to leave the train and find another way to make it to my final destination in Belgium. I had taken the train in Germany years before, and I knew how the national railway was functioning. And so, I had already a plan in mind.
I looked for a city train to Berlin, as there is one every half an hour. There are always two floors in those trains. So again without a ticket, I got into the train. I then calculated that I would need the persistence to play around 45 minutes at cat and mouse with the conductor to arrive in Berlin.
Playing Cat and Mouse
So, when the controller was on the top floor checking people’s tickets, I got down to the bottom level. Then I would go back up to always be behind her. I played around with her until she got too close to me. So I decided not to take further risks, got off at the next stop and waited for the next train to come by thirty minutes later.
I got into the next train and began playing the same game until I finally arrived at the central station of Berlin. There, I got some rest sitting on a bench. So far, persistence, boldness, and audacity were paying off. I then looked for a train to Brussels, Belgium.
And there was one at night. Therefore, I went to ask the ticket price and explained to the cashier that I was without money but it was to no avail. Her heart was of stone. She merely told me that usually, the one-way ticket to Brussels is 52 euros, but there is a promotion to 19 euros tonight. It is roughly 23 dollars instead of 62.
Persistence Pushes Me to Beg
So, it was good news, but I needed 19 euros. However, asking or begging is not my style but persistence gave me no choice in the matter. I was not ready to give up, not that close. Thus, I asked a few persons, but they all refused. One lady speaking English listened but started to walk away until she looked into my eyes telling her “Please, I really need to get there.”
It made her believe my story. She gave me twenty euros and wrote down her name and bank account so that I may send the money back to her later. I thanked her and went to buy my ticket. When I got into the train twenty minutes after, I was alone in the compartment. I lay down and slept on two seats until morning when we arrived in the “Brussels Midi” train station.
Now I thought about what to do next. I decide to go to my grandmother to have information to find my father. My thoughts ran wild thinking that he might have changed. I took the metro and bus without ticket, again. My persistence to reach my destination kept pushing me forward.
Persistence is Mysterious
While arriving by foot at the bottom of her street, I just saw my grandmother taking out her garbage. When she saw from more than fifty meters away, she hurried up and returned inside her house.
Not thinking about anything wrong, I knocked on her door. I believed that she was going to open to me. Well, not at all! Sad, don’t you think?
I do not know why and I will never do, but I needed to insist three times on the bell to get an answer. She finally opened, not her door, but the window on the first floor which gave onto the street. Sometimes, persistence really brings us into strange situations.
You would believe that she would be pleased to see me. Well, wrong again! She did not invite me in, me, her own grandson, after twenty-five years of separation. Not even for a coffee! She could see that I was tired from whatever journey I was on. Yet, she just answered my questions very vaguely saying that she did not recognize me until now.
My Bag Pack of Persistence
What a lie! Even at that moment, when she knew it was me, Sergei, her grandson. However, she continued to hang out of her window without coming down and inviting me to enter her home. She said she did not know anything about my father. Then she coldly closed the window without telling me goodbye. And she left me there in the street like a common beggar.
So, do not be surprised if I do not have any affinity with the paternal side of my family. One can only endure so much. I just decided to give up any contact with them, and today, well I build my own family.
“Blood makes you related, but loyalty makes you family” – Unknown
Afterwards, I went to see an old friend, but he was not working in that store anymore. However, one of his colleagues, I do not remember his name, was very friendly and help me reach my final destination with the next train. And so, I took my bag pack of persistence and went on my way again, arriving at the end of my journey four hours after.
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Sergei VanBellinghen, Founder & CEO of First-Class Lifestyle, currently a Personal Growth & Success Expert Consultant, using self-development techniques to help you succeed and have a better life. Visit my personal growth page or check who is Sergei