Mar 29 2008

What the #!*& is wrong with train ticket controllers?

Tags: , , , , , Filed under: Written in Englishhugo @ 5:10

Caltrain

So this morning, I arrive at the train station as the train is stopping. I run on the platform, and see that nobody is going in nor out anymore. I quickly think: either I run to the ticket validating machine, and I’m pretty sure I’ll miss my train, or I just get on the train without validating my ticket. I go for the latter. It turns out that the train stays in the station for an extra 30 seconds, so I might have had time to validate my ticket.

Anyway, as the doors close, I go straight to the ticket controller and explain that I didn’t have time to validate my ticket, and ask him to validate him for me.

Ensued a 5-minute lecture about Caltrain rules; some highlights:

  • Can you see the sign there? It says that you cannot board the train without a ticket.
  • I should really be writing you a ticket.
  • Do you know that it’s not my job to validate your ticket? My job is to get you to your work on time. Your job is to get to the train station on time, and validate your ticket.

Caltrain ticket validator

I did have a time management lecture once as well, but this guy, behind his sunglasses, was just out of control.

When I mentioned that I could have just gone hiding into a corner and not pay for my ride, he just went on and on about how I was making him waste his time. At some point when he was talking about how his job was to bring me to my work on time and how he should fine me for being late to the station, I wanted to ask him what were the consequences of him bringing me late to my work, but the discussion was getting more and more absurd, so I decided to just smile and nod, and he finally validated my ticket.

Interestingly, years ago, I had a similar experience in Paris. I had bought a ticket, failed to find the validating machine, and boarded the train with my freshly bough – but not validated – ticket. When I got off the train, I tried to exit the station, and the machine wouldn’t let me out because it rejected my ticket. Instead of tailgating behind a passenger with a valid ticket, or jump over the doors, I thought: hey, there’s a controller back there, he’ll sort my problem in no time. The guy assessed that I had cheated on purpose (nevermind my proof of purchase from 1 hour beforehand, and the fact that I was the one that came to see him), and proceeded to fine me.

Something’s seriously wrong with ticket controllers!