15 November 2007

Kim vs. The Chicago Transit Authority

Dear long lost friends -

Please forgive our great delay in the land of blog. Mr. Howe Jr. has science-y factoids coming out of his ears and is in no state to compose witty blog posts. Recently he has become addicted to the soundtrack for the musical Wicked, and yesterday I overheard him in the bathroom singing something along the lines of "anterior pericardiacophrenic-fraschia minor" to the tune of "Popular." (Now that I think of it, that DOES sound like something the Wicked Witch would say.)

And I, dear readers, have been studying for my own upcoming test, because - being a chronic biter-off-of-more-than-I-can-chew - I am applying for grad school as well. Marriage, med school, new job, new neighborhood, grown up life... it's just not ENOUGH!

And as a super awesome bonus to these already super things - we also experienced several tragic deaths this month: jeremy's laptop and our transmission are both in technology heaven, to the tune of of $2000. [Update: Engine mounts now... make that $2300.]

Anyway, those are a smattering of excuses for the great delay in our blogging.
But we don't want to leave the people's votes unanswered, so without further ado...

Kim vs. The Chicago Transit Authority
* * WARNING * *
Includes language inappropriate for children under 18 or parents over 50.

Several weeks ago my job took a field trip, as we often do. The purpose of this particular excursion was to familiarize ourselves with the buses and trains that service our worksites, even though none of us would actually be using these particular buses or trains to get to our worksites. That's just what we do. Don't ask questions.

We were a group of 12; 10 of us had the normal cardboard passes, and 2 of us had those newfangled plastic psychic cards that are connected to your bank account and which the CTA has been pushing for "convenience and ease of boarding."

I got on the bus last, waved my psychic card over the "magic spot," and went to sit down. About halfway to my seat, the driver called me to come back.

Me: "What's wrong?"
Mr. Driver: "You have to pay."
Me: "Oh, sorry. I thought I did." (waves card again)
Mr. Driver: "Your card doesn't work."
"But I just used it on the last bus like two minu..."
"You can't do that."
"Do what?"
"You can't use it like that."
"Like what?"
"You have to wait 20 minutes." (not true)
"Uh... how are you supposed to change buses if you have to wai..."
"You can't do that."
"Okay. I'm a little confused. What's the problem here exactly?" (she says, politely)
"Your card doesn't work."
"Well, how do you know? What does the machine say? It is invalid? Or just not deducting? Overdrawn? Does it SAY it was used too recent..."
"Pay the fare, ma'am."
"This is supposed to be a transfer from the last bus! I shouldn't have to pay again if you can't even tell me why!"
"Pay the fare or get off the bus!"
"You are freaking kidding! Unbelievable!! FINE!"
(And she stomps to the back of the bus to beg change from her coworkers.)

At this point, the slow forward momentum of the bus comes to a screeching halt, and I nearly fall down in the aisle.

Mr. Driver is standing at the front of the bus, feet planted like a gunslinger, pointing at me and yelling: "PAY THE FARE BEFORE I CALL THE POLICE!!"

Me (shouting back across the length of the bus and over several Mexican women): "I'M COMING, FOR F***'S SAKE!!"

Marching back to the front of the bus, I end up nose to nose with Mr. Driver, and holding my two dollars above the machine, I whisper in a voice of barely suppressed rage:
"Here's your two dollars. But I shouldn't have to pay this. I already paid, my card works, and you are rude and an idiot."
(money enters machine)
Mr. Driver: "Get off my bus!"
"No. I already paid."
"Well then find it."

And we stood there glaring at each other, while the rest of the bus waited for the climax of our epic faceoff.

Eventually I spotted his badge number and ferociously scribbled it down while I scowled at him, and then stomped back to my seat, while he continued glaring at me in the rearview mirror.

The best part: A few minutes later the old lady sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, very knowingly, as only old ladies can, "He's kind of bastard..."

About a week later, after calling twice and sending two emails and a letter to the CTA, I received the following note: "As soon as your initial complaint was received, it was immediately forwarded to the General Manager of the garage where the #60 route originates to begin an investigation. That review showed your card actually did register the 25-cent transfer fee when you boarded the #60 bus at about 2:47 p.m., so we will have to check the farebox to see if there was a malfunction."

And that's basically the end. I guess this story is a bit anticlimactic after all that shouting' and stompin'. It would have been better if we'd had a throwdown in the aisle, and then Mr. Driver went unconscious after my wicked pile driver, and then I'd commandeered the bus and given free rides for everyone. And tootsie rolls. Yeah. That would have been awesome. Maybe next time.

Next up: Sleep Talking or Cadaver Life (or Living Cadavers Talking in Their Sleep... one of those).


aaron wk said...

gosh that was a great story. why did i want to hear about sleep talking?

Dave said...

did you get your $2 back?! it's important to know!

also, this reminds me of one of the top 3 seinfeld scenes ever when kramer commandeers a bus to get a severed toe to the hospital...

if you know the scene I'm talking about, it's hilarious...

kim said...

Yes, DP, after all my letters they gave me back my $2 AND took some "disciplinary actions" on Mr. Driver. I don't know whether this involved a reminder memo or a cattle whip, but I like to think the latter.

allan said...

That was hilarious! I felt the rage and joy at you standing up to the injustice of the CTA! You go girl. You should write this out as a skit and send it to Tina Fay for an episode of 30Rock. Seriously this is good shiz.

Kone said...

KIM! you are my hero and every day find a new way to prove to me why.

Erin said...

Kim! you are my hero and every day find a new way to prove why.

Kone said...

oops. guess I posted the same thing twice. That means I really meant it.

jewelleanna said...

although in this case the driver is a big dip sh!t...i would just like this to FURTHER proof that those damn little plastic cards are crap! i've NEVER had trouble with my hand-dandy card-boardy-plasticy-oldy-but-goody card. people are ALWAYS try to tell me to upgrade...but it's just some sort of half-a$$ed attempt to convince me the chicago cards hold some intrinsic value. they don't. they're a big load o' monkey poo. and look what they've done? see that? they're destroying the system!!! hehe.
ps. kim it's fun to hear about you opening a can of whoop a$$