The other night I was riding on a tram somewhere in Greece, and I was just about to fall asleep when I looked behind me and saw a lady checking tickets. The other passengers held out their tickets and IDs but she didn’t even look at them, just walked by each person nodding and smiling. When she got to me I pulled out a pile of expired tickets and she said something I didn’t understand. Just then we pulled up to the next stop and she asked if I would like to step out to get some coffee. I couldn’t tell if I was being fined or not, but I went along anyway. She linked arms with me and we walked to an ice cream parlor (instead of a coffee shop, as initially suggested). I told her it was my treat and we spent a good half hour deciding what to get from the hundreds of unlabeled flavors presented in the glass case. I asked if she always went out for ice cream with fare jumpers and she said she only stopped passengers on trams that were headed to the airport, or to the sea. She mentioned going to the theater next but by that point I was concerned I would be missed at home. When I told her I had to leave she didn’t like it, but there was nothing she could do — I’d purchased my freedom with the price of the ice cream cone.
2 thoughts on “Dreams of public transit, part 32”
We’re too good at taking advantage of a situation, I guess. Abroad, there is an element of underlying fear while “schwarzfahren” or “black-riding” that American’s would brush off too easily with an attitude of entitlement. Then again, we don’t need more fear here.
Why is it that it’s not a big deal if you don’t pay to get on public transit in places like Germany or Australia (where I think I only paid to get on a train once for two whole weeks) and when I ride the bus in Chicago if a little old lady sets down her groceries before paying and doesn’t look like she’s coming right back to the front to swipe her card the driver will call her out like a thief?