It is 1994.
I board the night train to Copenhagen in Amsterdam. I am between jobs. I have frequent flyer miles. I have a couple of friends who have invited me to stay with them. I can be poor here or poor in Europe. Europe wins.
It’s my first time. I look like Richard Branson, a gold hoop in my left earlobe. I wear a T-shirt, bush shorts and boots. I’ve been awake 24 hours (Red eye flight from LA). I hope to sleep on the train.
A beautiful blonde enters the compartment. She’s from Sweden. Another beautiful woman enters, reddish-gold hair out of a fairy tale. She’s from Finland. We settle down as the train departs. I enjoy rail travel in Europe.
Then a young Brit arrives. He talks nonstop. He’s only staying the weekend.
Seems like a long trip from London for a weekend.
He tries to smoke in our non-smoking car. He unpacks his bag. He keeps going outside to smoke spliffs and pound Heinekens. He isn’t fazed.
I fall asleep. He opens the window so he can smoke. The compartment is a wind tunnel.
In the morning, we cross the corner of Germany. State Police officers board. They take no shit.
The Brit tears his suitcase apart in a total panic – lost his passport. He pulls the cushion off the seat. It is behind it.
Two officers arrive – black uniforms, boots and Uzis. One checks our passports. He looks at mine and looks up at me, surprised. He grins, glances at the other cop, who is watching us. He nudges him, nods at my passport. The other cop looks down, grins.
The officers leave. The others demand to see what made the German State Police officers smile. They. Never. Smile. They’re like the guards at Buckingham Palace, only nobody ever tries to make them smile.
My passport photo: short hair, neat beard, tortoiseshell horn-rimmed glasses. Oxford button-down with a tie.
The train moves drugs. The Brit was probably smuggling cocaine.
A smuggler would’ve had short hair, a tie. The passport would show long hair and an earring.
My secret geek made two of Germany’s finest grin.