December 30, 2006

Ticketless

It was the last day of the year, and in my rush to head to work, I forgot to check my ticket-strip for balance before leaving. It was only when I had actually punched my two-zones worth that I realized I had run out for the return journey. Usually they have ticket strips in stock at the convience store within Kessler Park 1, but it was closed on its last working day of the year. I was sure I wasn’t going to get change for a single €50.- note I had in my wallet, since there were only a couple of us left in the building by 4pm, and I was pretty sure the driver of Tram 17 would not have change either. Nonetheless, I presented the note to him, who was taking out tickets to stamp.

He looked-up and said, “No, I have no change.”

“OK, so I’ll just get-off at the next station then,” I said. The tram had since left the one I had boarded from.

He thought for a while. “Where are you going? Centraal? Holland Spoor?”

“Yes, Holland Spoor,” I said.

He looked at me again and said, “It’s alright, sit down.”

I was both relieved and terrified at the same time. From my daily commute, I knew this route was routinely checked for tickets, and that I would not be spared either the embarrassment or the fine, if I was found traveling without one. But Holland Spoor station arrived uneventfully, and I thanked the driver a couple of times over, and wished him a good new year ahead. His face lit-up and, he said, “Dankjewel.”

I bought my tickets for my onward journey at Holland Spoor, and punched an extra strip, for the previous one performed without a ticket.