Thursday, March 2, 2017

One Good Apple

The ticket-checkers who work on AMT commuter trains can be egotistical power trippers. The same goes for some of their metro workers and bus drivers.

I’ve heard stories and, in some cases, they’ve made headlines.

I learned last Wednesday that not all of them are moronic clowns. Bad apples don't spoil the whole bunch.

On Monday and Tuesday of last week, my son loaned me his train pass. Monthly train passes don’t need to be scanned at the validation device. Last Wednesday, I used my own Opus card, which consists of individual train tickets that must be validated for each train ride.

Opus validation device
I forgot to validate my card. I only realized as I climbed aboard the train for the ride downtown. 

I was suddenly awash in sweat and hyperventilation, not necessarily in that order! 

The ticket-checkers are not on every train; it’s a spot-check system.

What were the chances they would be aboard my train in the middle of the afternoon?

For the entire trip, I twitched nervously with each loud voice I heard around me, glancing up and wiping several millilitres of burning sweat from my eyes every time the train door rattled open.

It was only when there was one stop to go that I began to relax, and that’s when the door slid open and they walked in, calling to passengers to prepare their proof of payments.

I couldn’t believe it; of all the putrid luck!

The ticket-checker finally stood at my seat and I, wallet in hand, simply admitted I had forgotten to scan my Opus card.

I spoke in English, the official language typically ignored by the AMT in its announcements and publicity.

He took the Opus card from my hand, asking, in English, if I took the train every day. I explained that I did not take the train every day and that Monday and Tuesday, I had borrowed a train pass from my son and, perhaps taking for granted I had the pass again, I had forgotten that my card needed validation.

I don't normally take the train on Wednesdays.

Placing my card on his hand-held verification device, he said he could see that my card had been scanned the week before and then he proceeded to ask me for some ID. He took out a pad and began jotting down my information.

In the end, he very kindly gave me a warning, reminding me the fine for taking the train without a valid ticket, or pass, was $120.

I thanked him repeatedly, assuring him I would not forget to scan my card in the future. He smiled and said, “It happens.”

No joke, the rest of the day, my inner Canadian felt terribly guilty about not having been given a ticket! It stupidly nagged at me. It’s as if I feared the AMT employee might be doubting my honesty, thinking I had pulled the wool over his eyes. Which I didn't.

His kindness, considering the reputation and stories I’ve heard about AMT ticket-checkers, seemed exceptional.

Will I give other AMT enforcement personnel the benefit of the doubt next time? No, but I’ll always give that particular ticket-checker the benefit of the doubt.

I got lucky that day, not because I didn’t get a ticket, but because I most likely got the only AMT ticket-checker who is a decent human being.

I haven’t seen him since; perhaps Agence metropolitaine de transport has detected his decency and are taking corrective measures.

If and when I do see him again, I plan to thank him once more.

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