Last week Lily and I were riding the Spadina streetcar into the station. The new streetcars, well, all Spadina streetcars operate on the new Proof of Payment system. This means if you don’t have a pass or a transfer, you have to pay on the streetcar with cash or a token, and get a transfer. If you are caught without one, you can receive a huge fine if the transit fare inspectors catch you. They randomly show up and I’ve seen them a few times.
So a woman gets on, holding a token in the air, swinging her arm frantically, with a panicked look on her face. The whole scene amuses me. Of course, there are two machines to pay, the one in the middle is broken and has been for a week – and the assistant, obviously, is not standing beside it because that would make too much sense, instead she’s standing at the end of the streetcar, beside the one machine that does work. I watch numerous people try and pay at the middle machine, and I have to continually tell them it’s broken, until I grow tired of this job.
The woman sits down across from me and she’s despondent. I tell her she can either go to the end of the streetcar and pay, or she can take her chances, as we are 2 stops from the station and the inspectors are not likely to arrive. I explain, ‘listen, even if they come on, you can just play dumb – this machine doesn’t work and this is all new to you, don’t stress”. She sits there hyperventilating. I want to laugh out loud at the absurdity. We roll into the station, and omg, the fare inspectors are standing outside. She starts crying… like, real tears rolling down her face.
I shake my head and tell Lily, ‘let’s go, we need to help this woman’. She’s full out crying by the time I get there, which to be honest, is a nice touch. I mention to the men that the machine is broken and they just nod and dismiss her.