Fare Inspectors – Bringing Balance to the Force

N-Judah Chronicles contributor Mason Powell makes his blogging debut today. He’s already been providing us photos, and now provides some commentary on fare inspectors!
It’s not often that we get to see karma in action. Sure, we like to tell ourselves that the array of jerks that we encounter will “eventually get theirs”, but how many times do we get to see it happen? Not very often. But when you get to see the cosmic forces at work, it can really be fun.
For example, a few weeks ago I was on the N-Judah on a somewhat crowded Thursday. I got on at Powell and headed outbound. Around Church & Duboce, in this fairly crowded car… a voice called out the words hippie wannabes and other deadbeats fear…
“Fast Pass, transfers, or tickets!”
The Fare Inspectors had arrived. And while sometimes it can be hard to shuffle things around to get out your Proof of Payment, everyone did and showed the inspector. Except for one. In a seat a few rows from where I was standing, sat someone who I had no opinion of until he opened his mouth. He was a Yuppie In Training. Let’s call him “Chip”. He’s not quite to the point of having an SUV in the ‘burbs with a trophy wife and accessory kids, but he’s on the way.

This guy must have been in his mid to late 20’s, and had the uniform of the 21st Century YIT – a vertical striped shirt, semi-spiky hair, and the fake worn-out jeans. And the attitude to match. When the inspector asked him for his POP, the BS started to flow faster than a Fox News commentator. From what I could hear, Chip didn’t have a transfer because he “couldn’t get one”. He transferred from BART, and the MUNI station was “closed”. He even got out his BART ticket to prove his story was true.
Let’s step back for a moment. This guy looked like he was somewhat educated. Was that the best he could do? On a weekday, during the middle of the day, there is always a staffed window and faregate that accepts coins in a downtown station. This guy was just too lazy to find one, or more likely, just thought he could get away with it. And showing the BART ticket to prove his story is even more ludicrous. In a two part statement, proving Part A true does not automatically make Part B true. Anyway…back to the story.
After hearing the tale of woe, the inspector nailed down some of the particulars of the story, and then reminded Chip that he needed Proof of Payment at all times. Then he asked to see Chip’s ID. Chip handed it over, and the inspector said that he would be back. He then went to the head of the car, and started filling out the citation, while still checking people who were getting on. It was an impressive display of multitasking.
A few minutes later, the inspector returned, and asked for Chip’s signature on the citation. To my amazement this was the next thing I heard: “What am I signing?” When he was told that it was a citation for not having valid Proof of Payment, Chip started repeating his story over and over, like that would have opened a portal to another universe where people are actually swayed by Yuppie BS and are allowed to ride MUNI for free.
The inspector, always maintaining a professional manner, very politely said “Sir, it is your responsibility to have Proof of Payment. Everybody on this car made the effort to get it and you did not. That’s why you are getting this citation.” Chip was very quiet for the rest of his trip.
Now I don’t know which part I enjoyed better. The fact that someone who tried to cheat the system got busted, especially when that someone was not in dire financial straits, or that ‘ol Chip just couldn’t accept the fact that he was caught and had to take his medicine like the rest of us in spite of his story. Perhaps the latter.
I wasn’t the only one enjoying this. Seated next to Chip was a woman of similar age who I first thought was with him, but she had a look of intelligence about her. After Chip got his citation, She used a lot of energy to hold back a VERY large grin, keeping it to just a smirk.
It seems more of us fare-payers enjoy seeing someone get busted that I thought

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7 Responses to Fare Inspectors – Bringing Balance to the Force

  1. TheRobin says:

    While I too enjoy deadbeats getting caught on MUNI. I do have to let you know that the fare gates (especially at the Montgomery Station) downtown ARE NOT ALWAYS staffed in the day. Also, the fare gates at many of these unstaffed enterances are broken and don’t take coins either. I’m not defending this guy, he probably is as bad as you make him out to be, but his excuse does make some sense if you go check the facts.

  2. Mason Powell says:

    Well, I can only go on experience and what Muni tells me, but the faregates aren’t “broken” but they are set to not accept coins when an agent isn’t there. In the Downtown stations, when there is only one agent they are always in the west end of the station, according to Muni. I have always been able to find one. Maybe this isn’t always the most practical setup, especially at Montgomery, where I always seem to end up on the eastern side and have to make the walk to the other end. I still think ol’ Chip just didn’t want to make the effort to go to the other gate.

  3. Jamison says:

    Broken faregates will soon be even less of an excuse.
    Translink machines are being installed and soon buying a ticket (they should call them tickets, I think the idea of calling it a “transfer” or even worse a “receipt” makes it sound optional in the first place) can be done with cash or credit card instead of exact change.

  4. Josh Krist says:

    That was a great story. I’ve seen this play out in a different fashion once–some well-dressed young woman tried to put in 1.25, instead of 1.50, and made a big stink when the operator told her she was a quarter short. I understand being short a quarter, and twice in my Muni riding life I gave a quarter (once .50 cents to an obvious tourist who seemed to think there was a change machine on the 71). Anyway, I wonder what’s up with this apparent sense of entitlement that these obviously-not-poor “YITs” seem to have?

  5. Chris Brainard says:

    I am so glad the story this story decides to target the young generation who are rich. Basically someone who can afford to pay the insane $100+ dollar fine and the younger generation who we can’t seem to tolerate because they haven’t been beaten down yet. What a great collection of quick judgements.
    I think we can have a more productive conversation than complaining about what you call deadbeats and hippies. We should be focusing on all the people who are driving their cars by themselves up 101 (and in the city)for example. 70%-80% are driving by themselves. The city should be working towards making Muni free instead of ticketing people who aren’t polluting and clogging up the streets.

  6. I’ve heard people say “It’s not necessary for us to get a $500 citation. We just won’t do it again.”
    Sometimes it sucks to have to show my pass every morning. I always freak out when I think I might have forgotten it in a different jacket and will get an embarrassing citation even if my pass is at home (in the wrong jacket).

  7. Dave says:

    Fare Inspectors hear the same story everytime, who do they belive? It is the Judge that makes these decisions, it is the Fare Inspectors job to write the citations. If the Judge is gullible enough, he/she will dismiss the citation or lower the fine.

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