Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I really really hate public transport. Really.

We know them by all sorts of names... Metpigs, Ticket Cops, The Gestapo, Those Fucking Cunts Standing Over There, to name a few. While their methods might in fact be questionable at best, they seem to have achieved their purpose of annoying people so much that they either won't catch public transport anymore, or instead go to any length to get/validate a ticket, despite the physical barriers to such a task, like machines that don't validate, 'credit card only' notices, and metcards that disintegrate in your pocket after about three days of use.

So while the rest of us have learned to deal with overpaying and running about in circles to validate tickets that simply don't want to be validated to avoid having to deal with these dicks, or risk the inevitable ten minute interview at the barriers when you get off at the next stop, a lot of Melbournes youth are still all idealistic and all that shit, and seem to think that the excuse 'the machine wouldn't accept anything other than my first born child, and well, I'm still a virgin and I'm beginning to think I might be gay, so that really wasn't much of a possibility' is going to cut it. The truth is, it won't. The machine can be right next to these utter bastards, erupting into flames as you speak, and you'll still get a fine and be told to contest it later. If you're lucky, you'll even get a punch or two to the gut while being told to calm down.

In fact, here. Have a fun video.

But what I really love about this all, and I mean really love, are the fines. Hell, I buy a ticket every fucking day, but somehow I've managed to be fined twice, narrowly avoiding many more. Do you have any idea how much the fucking things are? $158! That's right, one hundred and fifty eight cunting dollars. Don't think about doing it twice, cause it'll rocket to $211, and then $263. That's a lot of fucking money, but it didn't seem like so big a deal to me until I visited London. Traveling on the tube and seeing the signs there, they indicated that if you did not have a ticket on your person, you will be fined £20 . £20! I exclaimed, wildly, arms flailing. My traveling companion, a London native, took this as an opportunity to grumble about the fine. Yeah, the bastards raised it last month to twenty quid. It's a fucking joke, used to be ten. Ten fucking quid?! The tickets themselves are about five! And you know what? When they give you the fine, they're actually polite to you about it! Sure, they don't sit down and offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit, but they bloody may as well do. In Austria, they're not all that different, either - the locals get all panicky about having to carry a ticket at all times, yet you go to a train station, and no one wants to sell you a ticket. There's a single pole for validating said mystery tickets in the main foyer in and out of the central stations, which one could be forgiven for mistaking for a convenient digital clock. I'd call this a devious ploy to raise revenue via fines, but the fines are utterly minimal, and in a week of riding no less than a zillion trains a day I didn't see even a single ticket nazi.

See, now in the Czech Republic they have the right idea. While I have absolutely no understanding of the language, it seemed to be that small squadrons of paramilitary troops would descend on stations - ones largely located in tourist areas - and not head down to the platform, where you would expect one should be carrying a ticket, but instead, wander around the local shopping precinct booking tourists who are nowhere near trains, for not having a ticket. If the tourists try and protest in broken english/german/french, the troops respond by blatantly ignoring them, and appear to start assembling some sort of weaponry to use on the now frantic tourist. Needless to say, it works like a charm and people immediately stop arguing and instead start haemorrhaging cash at the troops, who seem more or less pleased at this occurrence, disassemble their weaponry, and go and find someone else to harass without so much as a 'have a nice day'. This method was confirmed to us by our Czech friends, who upon meeting us in one of these shopping centers, urgently escorted us to the nearest kiosk to buy tickets and plenty of them, in what could only be described as a secret-squirrel, hush hush military operation in itself.

Still, for all their faults, I never saw them actually cart off a ticketless passenger or bystander, let alone pin them to the ground and drag them into the nearest alcove, which is certainly more than I can say for our very own Metpigs. But what we can applaud them for, no doubt, is their ever willing effort to change appearance from time to time, usually not long after another expose of their antics appears on the news or in the papers. How many times have we seen them change uniforms? I quite liked the Matrix-style trenchcoat approach of '05/'06, and then there was the we're-in-damage-control tourist guide suits they had for awhile when the trains started going kaput in late '06. But now, they're onto quasi cop/patrol kindof outfits, which just scream Nazi Germany to me, which going by the way they were hassling everyone not wearing a suit at Melbourne Central this morning, seems to match their current attitude of 'We don't care if the trains are fucked. You've had time to deal with it, now show me your ticket, bitch!'. Ahh, good times, good times.

Still, my favorite publicity stunt had to be when they condescendingly started handing out coffee vouchers to all the good little commuters who kindly handed over their tickets for inspection. 'Valid for 1 coffee (small) at CoffeeHQ'. It was a kind, if not somewhat see-through gesture, but lets face it, the only people who are desperate enough to drink at CoffeeHQ are pretty much guaranteed to not even realise that coffees come in 'small'. When the server hands them their thimble of weak coffee, they'll be lucky if it doesn't get tossed back in their face. At first, I thought it might be an OH & S issue, but then I remembered that CoffeeHQ are in the business of serving lukewarm coffee unable to scald the most delicate of babies, let alone hardened, underpaid, oft yelled at HQ coffee-monkeys. Still, it's something I'd like to see more often. *sip* YOU CALL THIS COFFEE?! I'VE GIVEN BIRTH TO THINGS FROM MY NOSE THAT ARE MORE ACCEPTABLE AS BEVERAGES THAN THIS! *throw* Hell, that's probably why they serve it lukewarm in the first place - it saves on the workcover claims.

Anyway. Enough of my ranting. I want to hear yours. Mainly because I'm sick of typing and have a load of really shit work to do. I'd best not go into it in too much detail, but it involves userguides, and, I suspect, a million monkeys at a million typewriters. Looks like someone took away their bananas though.

The Rantolotl.

Oh, and while you're at it, why don't you go and celebrate Loyalty Day? C'mon, you know you want to.


rws said...

Here in Brisbane it's not unheard of to refer to the ticket nazis as "Mormons" because of their white shirt/black tie combo.

Whereas the late-night train security guards (who usually don't check for tickets, unless you're young and black) used to have this wimpy light yellow (!!) shirt but have recently changed to a blue shirt with a big shiny plastic "SECURITY" sign on the back. I remember when I first saw the new uniform, on these two guards who I think are stalking me because they're on every train I catch, I just happened to be going through a phase of, whenever drunk, loudly ridiculing anyone in stupid clothes.

At the moment in Brisbane they're upgrading from oldskool paper tickets to machine-validated tickets, but with a proximity reader system rather than having to physically insert it into a machine. I imagine this in itself would be less annoying than my experiences in Melbourne a few years ago (though you can actually get away with "I'm from out of town and didn't know" the first few times) except given the cost it's based on a personal smartcard rather than disposable tickets; and given the sorry state of my ATM card and even my staff swipecard (that gets replaced every 6 months) I'm not sure that's such a good thing.

Rat said...

New Jersey Transit has ticket punchers. They come through and punch tickets with this little hole puncher. If you don't have a ticket, you can pay them the ticket price plus a small surcharge. It's run pretty well. The ticket punchers can be a little surly though.

New York's subway system doesn't have any sort of ticket issue. You can take your chances hopping a turnstile, but $2 isn't too bad. The bad part is when you happen onto a train that has a homeless person on it. You immediately notice the smell, and look down at the ground to see where the pile of shit is. Then you notice that all of the people on the train are piled into one corner, as far away from the stink as possible. If you can bear the smell, it's kind of fun to watch the faces of the people who get on at each stop. But I usually run for the next car at the next stop...

CeeJay said...

The Rantolotl has just instructed me to "Type, Monkey, TYPE!" and being an obedient kind of person, typing I am. And she's not kidding about those Czech Metpolezei (Yes, yes, wrong language...I know...) - they were a scary but at least entertaining distraction from the stifling heat and excess of cheap pilsner.

Bozza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bozza said...

Yeah, a big fuck you goes out to those bigots in The Age video clip. Don't know how these fuckers can think possibly what they're doing is right.

Check out my Chaser Ad Road Test Suggestion:

It would be nice to see the Chaser team make fun of these bigots in some shape or form.