She’s Got a Ticket to Ride (but I don’t)

I don’t normally carry cash.

This is not usually a problem because pretty much everywhere nowadays takes credit cards. I pay the balances off in full, I like to get miles, I don’t have to stop at the ATM. Really, they’re the ultimate convenience for me with no downside. Cause I ain’t paying no stinkin’ interest.

That is, until they betrayed me.

Credit cards lulled me into a false sense of security.

Now that we live in the suburbs, we take the Metra. It’s nice – takes me just as long to get to work as it used to but I get to read a book the whole way there. A book!

I love books.

The thing is, you need a ticket. Now, I know you can buy these holy, 1,042 ride tickets. But with the meningitis and all, I didn’t get around to it. So Sunday night, I snuck some cash away from David. Because I didn’t have it.

I tucked it carefully into my wallet.

I got onto the train, paid my $5.50 and was delivered happily to work. I tuck the change carefully into my jacket so that I know exactly where it is when I get on the train.

I worked.

I left work and got to the train station. I checked the track schedule. My train would be on track 28. Perfect. I was all set, I just needed to head over to the ticket window.

Wait, crap. Where is track 28? What if I get lost?

I decide to get a miracle 3,678 ride pass tomorrow in favor of making sure I do not miss the train today because I can’t find the correct track. Adrift in visions of wandering the train station, indefinitely I decide to search for the train.

I get to the correct track. It is very, very far away. I sit down with 6 minutes to spare. Relieved, I pull out my book.

Then, panic strikes.

I do not have any cash. No, no, the cash is sitting quietly in my jacket which I decided not to wear home because it was so nice out.

I picture my jacket, laying quietly over my desk chair. I try to will it to fly to me. It does not. Lazy f-ing jacket.

Panic sets in deeper this time. I start to sweat. And hyperventilate. The other passengers eye me warily. I suppose they expect me to stroke out ebola style.

Instead, I get off the train and flat out run. I run. I do not get very far before I realize that I cannot make it to the train station proper, get cash and get back without missing the train. There is only one train an hour. I desperately want to see my son and not be an hour late. So, I pull my wallet out and start counting. It does not take me long: I have two dollars.

One, two. See, it does not take long.

Due to a severe vending machine addiction though, I have tons of change. I begin shaking it out on the platform. 4 quarters, 8 quarters, 12 quarters, 5 dimes. Whew. I have 2 dollars, 12 quarters and 5 dimes. $5.50 for the fare ride home.

I board the train feeling a little ghetto but content that I will arrive safely on time. The train pulls out of the station. The conductor comes up and asks me to pay.

“$8.50 please,” she says.

All of the blood drains out of my body.

I do not have $8.50. I have two dollars and a shit load of change to make $5.50. I tell her this, leaving out the ghetto change part.

She eyes me up and down. Explains that since there are ticket counters downtown, they charge you $3 more if you pay cash on the way home as a penalty for not using them. I’m trying to figure out if I can beg money of off someone else. Or how I can cushion my fall when she throws me from the moving train.

“Do you have a check?” she asks.

Now, those of you who read the above or who know me would say: no. I did not have a check. I do not carry checks because I lose things. No sense risking that when I have a credit card which, as we all know, is accepted everywhere. Except this time, wonder of wonders, I did have a check. A single, solitary check. I had it just in case I needed it at the closing. First and only time in my life that I had a blank check on me. Dumb luck.

I make out the check, cringing with embarassment. I’m such a freakin’ bum. I cannot believe I did not read this in my research of the train system. Why did I not take more money from David?

The woman next to me pretends that she is not laughing at me. We both know the truth though.

I get home safely where David and my family laugh at the situation.

The next morning, since I still haven’t bought a 10,212 ride ticket, I pay cash again. I am prepared. I pretend like I know what I’m doing.

The new conductor takes my ticket and says, “Do you know about the racket, miss? That they charge you an extra $3 on the way home if you pay cash?”

Yup, thanks for that info buddy.

A day late and three dollars short.