Based on a true story, this Pride month we bring to you a tale of how two people connected over their love for the railway. Here’s the story, told by Senior Conductor Sam, on how he met his partner Dan.
It all started in July 2006; we were both on a night out in Shrewsbury with our separate group of friends. Dan didn’t really want to go out, but he was supporting his friend who was going through a hard time and I was out with some friends from work.
We ended up at a local venue that was gay friendly, which was also known for having ‘Gay Night’ Mondays, which by 2006 they preferred to call an ‘attitude free’ night as a more all-encompassing venue. As this was a Saturday and not attitude-free night, you certainly weren’t out looking for love, just out for some social drinks.
I met Dan at the bar, and we got talking. But with us both being young and shy, we needed an ice breaker. Luckily, Dan happened to notice a very pixelated picture on my phone (a colour screen Nokia… very popular at the time may I say) of a pair of Class 158s. Believe it or not, that was our ice breaker!
Most people find a common interest in movies, food, or travel, but this was something we both felt at ease talking about as we were both very conscious that it wasn’t an ‘attitude-free night’ so didn’t want to draw too much attention to ourselves.
The ice breaker certainly worked, because who would have thought that we would connect over a couple of Class 158s? Soon after, Dan rather cheekily put his number into my phone (way before Face ID thank goodness) and we both went our separate ways that night.
I must admit, I did drunkenly call Dan that evening as we decided to meet up and do the standard thing on a night out and order from the local kebab house. Thereon after, Dan was forever known as ‘Cheeseburger and Chips’ on my phone.
We ended up dating a short while after we met and realised we had more in common than we first thought. So much so, we got engaged after 4 months and rented our first house together 4 months later.
Over the years we had some extravaganzas on trains, and we knew we loved being on the railway.
Fast forward 11 years and we finally tied the knot on a beautiful sunny day at a wedding venue on the Shropshire border, which happened to be Dan’s Grandad’s former home.
It was during the honeymoon in the south of France that I received the news that I had a start date for my training as a Senior Conductor at West Midlands Trains, having previously worked a 9-5 role at a law firm. So, it ended up being a double celebration!
Nine months later, Dan who had worked shifts in the retail sector for 22 years, joined me and also started as a Senior Conductor for West Midlands Trains, albeit at a different depot. However, we were lucky to get the same shift pattern which was a game-changer as it hugely increased our free time together and did wonders for our work-life balance.
Before the pandemic, we were able to realise our dream of buying our first home together was a reality and we moved to a location more central to both our depots.
We now live happily with our two cats, two ducks, and two chickens, just waiting for the lockdown to end so we can go back to travelling more regularly on the trains for leisure.
And who would have thought that all this happened because of a pair of pixelated Class 158s on my phone all those years ago…