I was running about 10 minutes late for work this morning. This summer, I've walked every morning, since, from front-step to building lobby, it's about 20 to 25 minutes depending on the jump in my step, the heat and humidity or whether my stomach persuades me to grab a bagel and coffee along the way. As I wasn't going to arrive on time by walking today, I decided to take the Metro. I've used the train maybe a dozen times this summer on such occasions. I opted not to buy monthly Metro passes in May, June, July, August and September to save the $70 per month and because I didn't think it was necessary, considering that my walk to work in Montreal is actually shorter than it was in Yellowknife, by some nautical miracle.
Today, when I arrived in my tiffy at the underground ticket booth, I found no surly, French-Canadian old-timer to greet me with his/her practiced annoyance. I'm talking both sides of the booth. And it wasn't like the STM worker was standing around talking to a bus driver and pretending to ignore you like normal or that they were unwrapping their sandwich, oblivious to the line-up of people awaiting them. There was no one in there. Torrents of people were pouring out from the turnstiles, as the 9:15 am train had just arrived and dumped off loads of eager students to the Universite de Quebec a Montreal campus at Berri-UQAM. Past this stream of people, I saw a small logjam at the automated ticket machine and so I did what any rational person would do when running late and confronted with my situation: I jumped the gate.
Immediately, some gigantic bald black dude, who must have been a Montreal Alouette, undercover in a blue dress shirt, grabs me by the arm and tells me I have to stop.
He talks into his radio and within seconds, there are two doofus STM transit officers on the scene, dressed all in black, with big puffy vests like they are expecting to be called into SWAT duty, who start giving me sass about not paying.
I've been in Montreal for a year minus three days and I have jumped the turnstiles TWICE! Two times! I told that to the doofuses, but they didn't care. I offered to pay them the three bucks I had in my hand (the ticket is worth $2.75) and they shook their heads and started giving me guff and prodded me for my I.D. No warning. Nothing. Ticket. I told them I was running late and that they had to be kidding. Really though, what was I to do?
I swear, it was entrapment. They'd rigged up this little set-up to nab folks like me. After about five minutes of standing and waiting, I saw an old, white-haired lady waddle back into her booth. The sting operation had proved successful. They'd caught me and an old Chinese guy who was pretending he didn't speak any French or English. I nodded at him in a show of respect.
The bigger, and predictably shorter, douchebag of the two STM numb-nuts, M. Chindaire (from what I can make out on my ticket) took my I.D. and then took 20 minutes away from me in order to write out my ticket. He took his time since he knew I was late for work. Unfortunately for him, he still fucked my name up, writing Willian as my middle name instead of William. I still may fight this thing.
Back to those transit officers: I really, truly don't know how they sleep at night. I mean, I'm not going to say that I'm changing the world with what I do at work, but at least I'm not consciously fucking peoples' days up and actually deriving pleasure from doing it. This M. Chindaire was delighting in my misfortune. I couldn't comprehend why. (A friend and I called him Const. Shortman Sydrome and Corp. Mywifes Acunt at work later for comedy's sake. I said he couldn't have a wife because no one could love him. Even his tapeworm had left him.)
But the people who work these jobs must either know that they aren't quite full-blown authority figures and repress it and power-trip, or they must be content by the misery they inflict over the course of their lifetimes. And why are these people always shorter than average? Can we get some sociologists to look into this, please?
Finally, Chindaire handed the ticket back to me and told me my options. There was no way I was paying the $2.75 in front of them (especially since a minute part of that might finance their miserable livelihoods) so I walked to work under a cloud of frustration.
All told, my walk to work cost me $214 today. Maybe Chindaire could have let me off with a warning, but he was obviously too cranky because he couldn't sleep with himself the night before.