Creative punishment for fare-jumping?
I don’t know about you, but I can appreciate a certain level of honesty with some things, including breaking the law. Especially if you get caught. (“Ah. Yes, officer, I know how fast I was going. Very fast, indeed”.) By the same token, I also appreciate subtle, off-script ways of punishing people for doing so.
Fare jumpers often seem more nonchalant than anything else. They keep their heads down as they wrench those back doors open by their fingernails, and generally don’t say much or cause a ruckus while they’re trying not to get squished in the doorway.
This gal on a 10-Townsend one afternoon put them all to shame.
She’s pretty nondescript; I didn’t peg her for a troublemaker at all, which is maybe why I’m so intrigued by what unfolded. She gets on the bus from the front, head held high, and walks right past the fare box. The driver, a salty ol’ babe with a gravelly voice rivaling Tom Waits’, doesn’t miss a beat:
“Where’s your fare, honey?”
“Don’t got it.”
This is where the honesty comes in, and I actually appreciated the no-nonsense answer. There was no hemming or hawing, no faux-fiddling through her purse, no contrite apologies.
We kept moving through all this, by the way. As we were moving, the driver notes that she did this last time (repeat offender, awesome), and that she was going to get kicked off the bus if she kept jumping fare. I pegged the scary-sounding lady as just a big ol’ softy at that point; she maybe knows this lady’s going through some tough times, and just lets her stay on the bus. Then she brings her cookies or something.
Well, I thought that until I listened to the verbal lashing this woman got. It was one of those under-the-breath mutterings that could (thankfully) be heard by everyone in the front of the bus.
Driver: *makes a wide turn*
“Showing all that cleavage with that ponytail sticking out, LORD HAVE MERCY. Comin’ on MY bus lookin’ like that. Only in San Francisco, Jesus Lord.”
The obvious embarrassment causes Ponytailed Cleavage-Sporting Fare-Jumper to start making nice with everyone around her, including the baby sitting next to me. She tries rolling her eyes, and just trying to wave away the scratchy comments floating toward us from the driver’s seat. Most of us weren’t fooled, and didn’t say a word. And it was awesome.
A new dimension to fare-jumping, maybe? If you have the audacity to jump fare and be bold about it, you have to entertain us somehow, preferably in the form of your own embarrassment.