A daily photo-blog of my life as an American transplanted in the UK.
Friday, 27 May 2011
Y3 - 239/365: Scottish Ticket Nazi
My morning didn't start off too well, I'm afraid. I was contacted yesterday to see if I wanted some work, just a half-day in the morning in a Year 3 class at a different school in Walsall. The idea being that once I work a day or two in a school, the people in charge of arranging a supply teacher are more likely to request you back by name if they like you and are familiar with you. This, in turn, leads to more consistent work.
I had planned out my route last night and learned that I didn't need to take the train to Walsall Station, but instead to Bescot Stadium Station as the walk to the school would be shorter from there, just under a mile and a half.
I arrived at Rowley Regis with plenty of time before my train was due to arrive. Since I didn't have cash on me today, I was prepared with my debit card to use the automated ticket kiosk. After a good 5 minutes of being directed to remove my card and start over, my train pulled into the station and people began to board from the platform. I tried once more but it just wasn't taking my card, saying the card was 'unrecognised.'
In the past I have been able to simply purchase my ticket at Smethwick Galton Bridge by telling them my originating station and destination due to having a connecting train there. This has been done with no problem, so I figured when I got to my connecting station, which was Birmingham Moor Street, I would just do the same.
The train pulled into the station and I went straight to the cashpoint to withdraw money since I knew my card was being fickle. In order to get to the ticket office, I had to pass through the barriers which happened to have staff already there checking people's tickets. So I approached a helpful looking man and asked if I could purchase my ticket off him. This is how our conversation went...
Me: Excuse me, can I purchase my ticket here off you?
Him: What station have you come from?
Me: Rowley Regis.
Him: Oh, where is your ticket from there?
Me: I don't have one because the kiosk couldn't read my debit card. There isn't a cashpoint at that station so I have stopped at the cashpoint here and now have cash to pay.
Him: I'm afraid then that I'm going to have to issue you with a £20 fine, Miss, as you boarded a train without a ticket.
Me: Maybe you didn't hear me clearly...I wasn't able to purchase a ticket because my card could not be read and I had to get cash out from here so I could pay.
Him: Well you don't have to pay the full £20 right now. I can take a partial payment, but I will need to take your details down.
Me: I don't think you understand! I have another train to catch at New Street, where I have to WALK to from here. I'm not being dishonest with you, I just want to purchase the ticket I would have purchased from my own station had the kiosk been working.
Him: I'm sorry then, you can't do that. You cannot board a train without a ticket.
Me: Are you even listening?! I TRIED to purchase a ticket but the machine couldn't read my card!
Him: Did you go up to the ticket office to try to purchase your ticket from there?
Me: No! By then my train was at the platform and I had to go or else I would have missed it!
Him: Well this is why you need to plan for your journey better to allow time for these things.
Me: Okay, asshole! I don't need you telling me how I need to plan my journey better! I was at my station ON TIME and then YOUR CRAP MACHINE refused to read or accept my card! I'm not paying ANY fine when I have done nothing wrong and I'm not trying to deceive anyone. All I want to do is purchase my ticket so I can now RUN to Birmingham New Street and pray that I catch my connecting train and get to my job on time!
Him: You need to watch your language. You will not be permitted to carry on to the ticket office until you pay the full or partial fine of £20. If you can only pay the partial fine, then I will need to take your details.
Me: Well you can get fucked then!
Yeah...I said it...and then I walked away carrying on (loud enough for him to hear) with probably more expletives than anyone cared to hear that early. But I was absolutely FUMING! Here I was trying to be honest and purchase the appropriate ticket, as I have done at stations in the past, and this overzealous ticket muncher was not interested in exercising a bit of human compassion for my situation. I appreciate he has a job to do, but he was taking the piss when I know for a fact you can purchase a ticket at another station -- how else do people do it when the ticket office is closed?
I rang Matt who agreed with me that the guy was being an ass and I eventually walked back up to my platform and over to where a train was boarding to head back towards Smethwick Galton Bridge. I fully expected to be followed, but by this point my blood was boiling with rage and I didn't even care. When I got to Smethwick Galton Bridge I headed to the ticket office and requested a return ticket from Rowley Regis to Bescot Stadium. No questions asked, no 3rd degree, no threat of a fine...just a few keystrokes and a "thank you very much." She didn't know it, but I wanted to hug the lady behind the counter.
See, was that SO hard?
Thankfully there was a train direct to Bescot Stadium boarding a few minutes later so I rang my agency apologising profusely so they could notify the school. I ended up getting to the school about a quarter past 9, which was an hour past when I WOULD have been there.
If I didn't think they would track me down from it and fine me anyway, I'd write a letter of complaint to National Rail or whomever is in charge of staffing the checkpoint barriers, particularly at Birmingham Moor Street.
I do feel awful about losing my cool and wigging out, so my apologies to the morning commuters for the outburst from the tiny, raging American this morning. But the man had me at the end of my rope and it resulted in me being late to school, which I don't make a habit of.
After the children in the Year 3 class I was covering left for their dinner, I stayed to mark their work and left the school to head back to Bescot Stadium. The photo I took was displayed on the fencing at the bottom of the steps and after the hectic start to my day it just made me laugh for some reason, so I took a photo. Naughty thieves...let this be a warning! Hehe.
After two and a half years in a long-distance relationship, I packed my life of 29 years into 21 boxes and moved to England to marry and be with my husband, Matt. Now I'm reveling in the youth of my 30s in Great Britain, supply-teaching in primary schools near Birmingham and enjoying newlywed life, being a mommy, and all the surprises they bring!