March 21, 2004

Rage against the Machine

Recently, I was attempting to catch the number 91 bus from Trafalgar Square to the epicentre of London, the Holloway Road. I arrived at the bus stop just as the bus was pulling up, so I quickly ran to the ticket machine, only to be confronted with the words 'NOT IN USE'. A bit of mild cursing, and I noticed that there was a long queue getting on the bus, and there was a stop next to the one I was at, which also had a machine. Quickly stepping towards the second machine, I deftly pushed in my pound coin, only to have it swiftly rejected. Three more attempts later, I glanced behind me, and the bus was pulling away.
The string of profanities that erupted from my mouth was perhaps one of my best efforts, as several people turned to look at me, and I skulked off around the corner.
Not too far round the corner was yet another bus stop, and this one actually had a working machine. I got a ticket, and returned, still swearing, back to the original stop.
At this point there were two German (I guess, from the accent) tourists pushing all the buttons on the machine. I pointed out that it was out of order, and they said, 'But, we have inserted one pound!'.
I did one of those exaggerated shoulder shrugs which generally means, 'That's typical, these things never work, our country is in ruins, etc', and sent them around the corner. They returned with a ticket, and we all stood waiting for the bus.
Now, it would seem, based on the evidence, that the ticket machine system sucks. However, a few minutes later, a man in an orange jacket appeared, and YES, he had come to fix the machine. NOT ONLY THAT, but the two Germans approached him and said, 'Excuse me, we have lost one pound'. He looked at them, and then just handed over a pound. The Germans looked delighted. I looked amazed. The guy fixing the machine looked bored.
The upshot of all this, was me spending my bus journey wondering how long on average a machine stays broken before someone comes to fix it.
So, my judgement on the ticket machines will have to be reserved for another time..

Posted by paul at March 21, 2004 10:18 PM