Thursday, March 26, 2009

on line

After walking down to West Falls this morning to catch the number 28 to my cubicle, I once again encountered – or was reminded – of a pet peeve: bus jumpers without SmartTrip cards. Here are some important items to bear in mind: first, the SmartTrip card, which is good for most local buses and the Metro, allows you to merely swipe the fare box and move right along. Second, feeding in money – especially piles of quarters, dimes, or nickels – always slows down the process at the bus door. Don’t even get me started on people who haven’t crisped up the dollar bill via the fold / unfold / iron-with-finger technique prior to bus arrival. Lastly, it’s raining this morning and this may be the most important factor of all. There are about a half-dozen of us hanging around under the bus stop shelter when the 28T rolls up and opens its door. Of the six of us, I don’t think anyone has priority over anyone else – there’s not much chivalry in bus mounting, particularly when there isn’t actually a line already formed at the bus schedule post. As we all step into the rain and approach the door there are two passengers who aggressively slip in front of the nearest folk in order to make sure they are the first on the bus and out of the rain. You know what? I don’t mind that technique on a normal day but if you’re entering the fray with the rest of the customers during boarding then you better swipe your card and move along. Let me ask you a question, and there’s no need to answer aloud, do you think these first two people had cards or cash? Four of us end up standing in the rain while the first woman tries to figure out how much the fare is, dig out her Greek drachmas from the war, sort out which slot to put them in, and eventually decide which way the seats located on this newfangled bus contraption. The second in line decides she not only wants to pay her fare with cash (a ratty dollar bill) but she also decides to charge up her empty SmartTrip card, something she could have done in the station while we waited for fifteen minutes. Here’s the deal: don’t pole vault to the front of the line if you are going to hold up a bunch of riders. The four of us with cards would have been on the bus in a flash and the other two wouldn’t have noticed any real difference and could have stood there for a pig’s year messing around with the fare box while I read the gossip portion for the Express newspaper. (I just made up “pig’s year”, it means nothing, no need to wikipedia.) I guess I’m a cranky old man.

I had something else important but I’ve either forgot or don’t care anymore.


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