I’d be the first one to claim I was a cynic in most ways, but there’s something about people that sometimes gives you a little pick-me-up, and makes you think that maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all. In my experience, these occurances usually happen when either you’re trying to break the law, or you’ve managed to mess up somehow, and you’re entirely reliant on another person to either condemn you or let you go free. To follow from that dramatic statement, I’d like to put it in a bit of context; dodging travel fares.
It is my personal belief that most ticket inspectors and bus drivers are some of the nicest people in the country. I don’t know if this applies to the rest of the world, or if it’s isolated to England, but I’ve lost count of the times when one of these lovely people have saved me some money, or chosen to ignore the fact I’m lying through my teeth to them. More often than not they’re quite happy to give you benefit of the doubt.
Case in point; just yesterday when I was returning from London, my friend had an issue with his railcard which meant that the date on the thing was illegible. The woman who came around to inspect our tickets heard his story, nodding and smiling all the while, and then told him to get it checked out at the next station he found himself, and if anyone hassled him to give them her name. Now, I know my friend, and it was just as likely that he was lying through his teeth as it was he was telling the truth (that he’d put the railcard in the wash). I even asked him after she had left, in hushed tones, if he had just bullshitted his way into a free ticket, but he assured me that it really had happened like that.
The point is she could have easily slappyed a £20 fine on him and made him get off at the next stop. I’m not sure whether this is a lazy thing and the whole fining system is very convoluted, or if it’s the classic English trait of trying to avoid a fuss at all costs, but I prefer to think that she believed him because it was the nice thing to do, and it made everyone’s day nicer. To be fair, I’ve probably had my fair share of close calls in this regard; I often used to ride the train into town and then buy a ticket from the office in Reading, claiming I’d come from Reading West, which is only a £0.70 ticket as opposed to coming from Bramely which was a £2.70 one. The point is whenever I was caught they would just tell me to get the ticket when I got to the station. In fact I’ve never known anyone to get fined.
The same is true of Bus Drivers. I’ve often managed to get a free ride because I haven’t got perfect change, or my personal favourite, the journey was the long way around, and the Bus Driver just nodded to the back and gave me a big grin. I mean woah.. that really struck a chord with me, and I was smiling like a fool all the way home, just because someone had saved me a few quid.
So my hat is firmly off to both Ticket Inspectors and Bus Drivers. They’re the cream of the crop, the wonderful wardens of our journeys home. Most people say our public transport system is terrible, but I just think of all the times the employees have trusted me or done something nice, and I’d rather take nice people and bad service over good service and bad people any day.