I caught the 8:19 am train. My “backup” train in case I miss the 8:14 am train (non sequitur: which I missed today because I spent too much time loitering around the energizer stations because of bike-to-work day yeah yeah).
In my usual morning commute, I put my feet up on the rail near the wall and relaxed with my sunglasses on with my bags all over the seat next to me.
Then I heard it. We were already in Burlingame, more than 10 miles from my initial start point in San Francisco.
I grabbed my ticket which I had carefully placed next to me. And realized to my horror that I had not validated it which I have never forgotten in the last 3 years of riding the caltrain.
I immediately jumped up, took off my sunglasses and lamely told the conductor my digression, “I forgot to validate it.”
I didn’t even get a chance to panic as the conductor started to lecture me. He “validated” my ticket and said, “I am supposed to cite you. You know that San Francisco has 6 validators and that at least one of them should work.”
I managed to say some lame excuse of rushing into the train, but couldn’t find the right words that seemed appropriate.
He admonished me further and I could tell the fellow passengers wanted the whole conversation muted. We all hate conversations like this because it ruins the morning commutes.
Then he said again, “I am supposed to give you a citation.”
I nodded and then sat back down.
As I begin to process what had happened…I wondered why he didn’t give me a citation. Why not? About 6 months ago, I saw a guy do the same thing but he willingly asked for the citation as a punishment for his forgetfulness.
Was it because I was carrying around the bike-to-work day bag? Was it because I spoke in a soft voice? Was it because I was Asian? Was it because I was female? Was it because I was dressed somewhat professionally? Was it because he decided that he didn’t want to have a bad day?
Even though I lucked out, it bothered me the rest of the morning. Luck like that doesn’t last too long. After all, this is the fifth time that I have been yelled at by the conductor.