02 February 2010

Do You Wait In Line or On Line?

So, I know it’s partially my own damned fault, for waiting until the first of the month to buy my monthly train ticket. But, honestly, should it have taken waiting on line for thirty-five minutes, while I missed two trains home?

Yesterday morning, the lines were so long that I’d have been late to work. In the evening, I arrived 21 minutes before my desired train, thinking – wrongly – that 21 minutes would be enough time. I couldn’t buy the ticket last week, because my office participates in the TransitChek program, and I didn’t have my TransitChek Visa card until the end of last week – and Friday night in GCT is as crazy busy as the first and last of the month. I couldn’t buy the ticket at my train station, because they closed the ticket office at my train station in the middle of January. I couldn’t use the ticket machines at my train station or in Grand Central; the ticket machines can only take one form of payment and because my $230 TransitChek Visa is less than the cost of my monthly ticket, I have to pay the balance some other way.

So I was stuck, waiting on line, watching the trains disappear from the Big Board, and thinking evil thoughts about the antiquated system by which MetroNorth has you line up to buy your tickets – there’s a single line for each ticket window. So, if you pick the slowpoke line, you’re screwed. A better system would have a single line feeding all of the ticket windows – you can’t pick the wrong window that way. The Whole Foods near my office has an ingenious queuing system, and it works almost flawlessly. But the powers that be at GCT probably don’t want to mar the august glory of the great space with something so pedestrian as queuing ropes.

When I finally got up to the window, I gave the slowpoke rookie clerk my TransitChek Visa and my other credit card – only to be told that I couldn’t put the balance on a second credit card, I had to pay by cash or check. That in itself is insanity – but luckily I’d been to the cash machine at lunch time so I actually had the cash on me – I’d left the house in the morning with about 89 cents in change in my wallet, and I almost never carry my check book.

In concept, TransitChek is a good thing – it encourages and rewards public transit users by giving us a tax break. But you could cut out a whole level of bureaucracy by letting people have a tax deduction of up to that $230 a month, properly documented of course, and eliminate the silly TransitChek Visas and vouchers and hassle.

By the time I finally got on the train, I was hopping irritated, not to mention damned glad I hadn’t waited on line in the morning what with the no cash in the wallet and all.

Did you have a nice day yesterday?

21 comments:

FreshHell said...

Jeez, I'm not even sure I followed all that. My day was annoying but for completely different reasons.

Harriet said...

Ugh. That sounds miserable. And for the record, Chicago has he same stupid system. It ticks me off every time. Also annoying: the fact that they demand 2 phone numbers. I usually make the second number up out of spite.

alejna said...

I wait in line. I hadn't even run into the "on line" expression until I was an adult. I wonder if it's an East Coast/West Coast thing. (I'm from the West Coast, originally.)

South Station in Boston has the single queue set up, and it works quite well. I've always been irritated by the one-line-per-cashier setup. I so rarely pick the fast line.

Kyla said...

I wait IN line. In one of the novels I read recently it pointed out some differences in regional vocabulary...that was one of the examples.

The other day I forgot to send KayTar's lunch with her and after going home to fetch it and drop it off for her, I then proceeded to the grocery store and spent a hour filling my cart with things to discover I didn't have my wallet AFTER getting through the checkout line!

Kelly said...

Why must public transit be so hard? I was investigating taking Amtrak to NYC via Pittsburgh, PA (near my family) and there is NO longterm parking within walking distance of the train station. None. The only way to get there is to have someone drop you off. Grrr. I want to be a good steward of this planet, but it is impossible to take a train out of Ohio.

susan said...

to answer your opening question: on line, for sure.

What a (bad) ticket system.

Imperatrix said...

alejna: I grew up in northern NJ, and I have always waited IN line (so it must be more nuanced than East/West coast).

Magpie: The only time I'd wait ON line is if someone painted a strip for me to stand on, but because I am an article-phile, I'd most likely be waiting on THE line, in that case.

Sorry you had such a frustating time trying to use public transportation. My recent run-in with bureaucrazy (typo, but then I realized I liked it...) was when I received two recorded phone messages, and two fill-in the blank emails all between 4:30 and 4:43 pm telling me that my daughter Impera was marked absent for periods 1, 3, and 5 that day. Ummmm, what the heck good is it to tell me after school is over? And do I really need to be told four times? Too much, too late! (And she was on a school-sponsored trip to a debate tournament, at that!)

ozma said...

I wait in line.

Yeah, I've had days like that.

And this is going to sound weird but yesterday was one of the most awesome days. My kid stayed home sick, we hung out and watch 'Freaky Friday' and baked cookies.

I kept thinking yesterday: This might be one of the happiest days of my life.

I know that sounds really strange. I can't explain it. It was like this moment in time when everything was good, right then.

I'm not trying to throw my greatest day of my life in your face or anything. Kisses.

flutter said...

that sounds like a royal pain in the ass

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I definitely wait "in line." But never for public transportation because it is virtually nonexistent in San Diego.

abby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abby said...

first of all, your transit pass for one month is over $230!! man that's pricey.

and yeah, if I hadn't known it was a full moon on Friday I would've guessed yesterday. I also had transit issues, a bike disaster, dinner mishap and a baby puke all over my bed at midnight.

"just another manic Monday, oh ooo oh..."
(thanks to The Bangles)

Julia said...

I hear ya, and yet...
if that was the worst thing that happened in your life yesterday, you're undeniably a fortunate woman.

Mental P Mama said...

IN! On annoys the tar out of me....

YourFireAnt said...

I wait in line. I think "on" is a NYC metro area thing.

T.

mayberry said...

I wait in line too, even after all those years in NYC. During which I spent many hours in line at Port Authority waiting for busses. There was a very particular way you had to line up and it was kind of fun to pounce on line-jumpers, whether or not they were deliberately being naughty.

Janet said...

I wait in line rarely! Or at least as rarely as I can. Since I'm reading this on 2/3, yes, I had a great yesterday! Well...it ended up being great, and that's all that really matters, right?

Marinka said...

I've had many bad thoughts about waiting in line at GTC. But I do like the board.

Gwen said...

To answer your title question: I generally cut. So, neither.

bernthis said...

I'm always amazed with all the technology we have that we still have to deal with crap like this

S. said...

I'm thinking of the Jasper Fforde book I just read (Shades of Grey) in which the main character is constantly thinking about the intricacies of queueing theory. It's a seriously, wonderfully weird book--if you're up for a silly read, I recommend it.