Friday, April 25, 2008


It seems like all I do is rant about public transport but it’s only because I hate it more than celery and this is confirmed by every time I’m forced to use it something absolutely ridiculous and absurd happens to me, further cementing my hatred for the system and making me realise that maybe celery isn’t so bad after all.

Mike even put it in a risotto the other day and I didn’t notice.

First of all I’m annoyed I even have to take this journey. Bristol to Middlesbrough and back in 13 hours. The woman I’m going to interview has a heartbreaking story and I’m looking forward to delving, but it was raining as I walked to the station so my shoes and socks are soaked and my jeans are drenched from the hem to the knee.

How did I end up in England? I’m Dutch Polynesian! Which ancestor do I have to thank for deciding it was too hot and beautiful out there and grey, rainy England was a far better place for our kind?

On train, chai, Empire magazine, happy. Along comes the ticket inspector to ruin my day. I hand over my ticket and he asks for my Young Person Railcard.

Then it hits me. I booked the ticket days ago over the phone and not once since then has my tiny little memory thought it worth nudging me so I actually put the validation into my bag.

Er…it’s at home, I stammer.

So, Matt, Duty Manager, king of the gays, proceeds to tell me I can either pay £100 fine or get off at the next station and talk to the police. (the Transport Police. They aren’t real are they?)

Well, can’t you just take my details and I’ll bring it to the station tonight?

No, that’s against the rules. THE GODDAM RULES! They are the bane of my life.

I’m clearly not some 17 year old scaly trying to get one over on the system. Please, I beg him, I can’t get off at the next stop, I just can’t. But I can’t pay £100 either.

Tell that to the police at the next station, he says sharply.

Thanks Matt.

This is a work trip and I don’t want to be £100 out of pocket. It takes me two days to earn that.

‘Have a think about it and I’ll be back in a minute,’ he says, returning my ticket. I don’t know why he made me cry but he did. I’m annoyed with myself for forgetting it, for possibly costing myself £100 for a trip I didn’t even want to take. I hate my stupid memory, it lets me down so often.

I call my boyfriend. He’ll have an answer. Back when Dad lived in England, I’d call him expecting him to have the answer to my most trivial of problems. Dad, the toaster isn’t working. Dad, the lights don’t work. Dad, my car won’t start. Then Dad would calmy (but no doubt excitedly) talk me through the mechanics of a toaster, a fuse or an engine. We both loved it.

Now Daddy’s in far off distant lands, Gareth has taken his mantle so he better bloody have an answer or he’s dumped.

‘Just tell him it’s a genuine mistake and ask to pay the full fare instead of the fine. Then slip it through expenses.’

Magic! He’s a keeper.

Matt (said through gritted teeth because he’s on my hit list) returns half an hour later and takes the ticket of the new man sitting next to me. He doesn’t even look me in the eye and disappears.

Holy moly! I LOVE MATT! Off the hit list, onto the Christmas card list.

But then we get to Birmingham and a new manager boards.

‘Please have your tickets and railcards ready for inspection,’ comes the female voice.

Oh god, a woman. I’ll never win her over with my winning charm and bashful eyes. In she comes… lo! Her name tag reads ‘Kim – Manager’ She’s a Kim too!

Can I see your railcard? She asks. Where is it? At home, I reply sheepishly.

I begin to explain myself, but Kim holds up a hand of protest. She has sensed my name is also Kim and, like a true trooper, butts in.

‘I’ll let you off,’ she smiles. Go Team Kim! She had no way of knowing my name, but us Kims, we know each other. I love her.

I know it’s all going to go tits up later and I’ll be charged full whack by some jobsworth, probably called Neil (I’m got no kinship with Neils) but for now I’m riding the wave of comradeship.



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