I felt like an idiot the other day. Here, let me share it with you all.
Presenting: Mass Transit Tales of Horror!
I left my wallet at home and noticed on the way to the bus stop that I had exact bus fare for both ways - 2 toonies and 2 quarters for a grand total of $4.25. In my half-asleep morning daze, I got on the bus and plunked the coins in the slot.
Bus Driver: "Oh, did you want a two zone transfer?"
Me: "No, just one zone... why? Oh..."
[At this point, I notice that the ticket dispenser has registered $4. The two quarters in my pocket confirm my screw-up.]
Bus Driver: "You just paid $4."
Me: "Oh crap."
Now if you've never been to Vancouver, then you might not be aware of our city's bizarre and inefficient transit plan. Buses change their fares constantly and do not give change. The SkyTrain works on the honour system. Bus Drivers are instructed to give everyone a ride, even if they don't pay. Naturally, this has lead to abuse and an air of entitlement among those who habitually cheat the system. For me, in fifteen years here in Vancouver, I have paid for every ride I've ever recieved, except for New Year's Eve when all transit is free.
I had a good day at work (new job and all) but couldn't bring myself to try and mooch two dollars from my new co-workers. Which led to my ride home.
I got on the bus and sheepishly told the driver that I accidentally paid four bucks on the morning commute. I dumped my four bits in the slot, telling him (honestly) that it was all I had and was it okay?
"No," he laughed. And started driving away anyhow.
So yes, I felt like an idiot. But you know what? Over the years I've given them tons of extra money. Like sticking a $5 bill in when I didn't have anything smaller. Like that year I paid double to go two zones without realizing that I only had to pay for one. And all those times when I paid $2 for bus fares of $1.25, $1.50, and $1.75 because I had no quarters.
I guess I felt entitled too. Then I found myself blaming the bus for my mistake. Hell, what kind of backwater hick system is this that doesn't even give change? I've been on thirty-year-old buses in Japan that charge different fares for almost every stop, have it all automated, and give change for everything up to a hundred dollar bill. (Okay, a 10,000 yen note, but it's the same thing.) Of course, their buses run on time too, so maybe it's not a fair comparison.
Yup, I felt like an idiot. Still do. But it sure feels better to blame someone else.