That’s Not My Ticket, Charlie

On March 1, I got up, gathered my things, and walked to the T. Since it was the first of the month, it was time to buy my T pass. I thought I tapped my CharlieCard against the reader. I don’t know how it happened, but the fare box spat out a flimsy paper CharlieTicket instead of loading the pass onto my plastic card.

“NOOOOOOO!” I screamed to the sky, startling my fellow commuters.

I probably could have asked the station agent to transfer the balance over to my CharlieCard, or trucked downtown to one of the MBTA offices to have them do it. But laziness won out. And it’s been a tough couple of weeks.

It’s a miracle I haven’t lost the CharlieTicket. My CharlieCard has a dedicated spot in my purse. My instincts are finely tuned like those of a Western movie cowboy, reaching in and having the plastic card in hand to open a turnstile within seconds. I’m the quick-draw commuter. The CharlieTicket is in the same pocket, but it squishes down, getting lost in the tangle of my headphones.

Once I do have the CharlieTicket ready for the turnstile, it takes forever for it to open the gate. The machine sucks it in, then whirrs and clicks as it reads the magnetic tape. Wheep wheep wheep wheep. Other commuters line up behind me, infuriated with the holdup. The PA comes on announcing my train. I think the machine must be done reading, but the ticket is still dancing around in the scanner. My train approaches. At long last, the ticket pops out and I’m left to make a mad dash down the stairs, hoping the doors don’t close too soon.

We’re less than halfway through the month. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it until it’s time to renew my pass. But if I do, you’d better believe I’ll be paying careful attention to make sure my April commuting is done by CharlieCard.


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