Oh, the humiliation.
Disaster struck early last week when I was unceremoniously booted off my beloved Express Bus.
I’m still stunned by this turn of events. I’ve pretty much made a second career out of praising the X27 and here I was being ejected from my favorite mode of transportation like a flasher at a church social.
The debacle occurred after work one day when I was tired and anxious to get back to Bay Ridge for a chiropractor’s appointment.
I got out of my office and walked two blocks up Broadway to grab the X27. My timing was excellent. As soon as I took my place on line, I looked down the street and—thar she blows!—my bus was chugging down the street.
I took out my wallet, climbed aboard and ran my Metrocard through the appropriate slot. But instead a friendly little beep I got a mechanical gag from the register and a disapproving look from the driver.
“It’s no good,” he said.
“What’s no good?” I demanded.
“The card,” the driver repeated. “It’s no good.”
“That’s impossible,” I declared. “I just used it this morning!”
“It’s no good.”
“But I filled it yesterday!”
This was quite true. I had put an additional 40 bucks on my card the day before, bringing the total up to $70. And yet this dolt was telling me the card wasn’t working.
“Hey, look,” I said, as a line formed behind me. “I gotta get outta here!”
“Do you have another card?”
I did, but, of course, it didn’t have enough money on it. I had plenty of cash so I turned to look at my fellow passengers in hopes of buying a ride off of one of them.
“Can anyone help me out?” I asked.
This Way Out
Suddenly all of the people who had been watching me were looking in every other conceivable direction.
“I can’t,” the woman behind me muttered.
Yeah, I know the routine. Nobody wants to get involved. I confess I often do the same thing when people come hitting me up for money. But I had the dough, damn it. I was ready to do business.
I was feeling rather awkward. I had a bus driver cut me a break one time when my card was short a few bucks, but I could see this butthole wasn’t going to be anywhere near as helpful.
I finally stormed off the bus, embarrassed and infuriated. I hate being the center of attention and now I felt like I had a massive spotlight shining right through me.
I dashed to the train station at Cortland Street and told my sad story to the booth attendant. He checked the card and said there was some kind of malfunction and that there was nothing he could do about it.
I dropped an additional 40 bucks on my spare card, grabbed a refund form and dashed back to Broadway, determined to take my rightful place on the Express Bus.
On the way over I rescheduled my appointment with the chiropractor because I didn’t want to get any more twisted than I always was.
I had a Metrocard go south on me once before and I got a refund--eventually. More importantly, I learned from that experience to get a receipt every time I refilled my card.
I sent the latest refund request off in the mail on Thursday and I should get the check just in time for the return of Hailey’s Comet.
I’m still pissed at that bus driver and I’m more annoyed at myself. I was so worried about making a scene that I didn’t stand up for myself. I held up my end of the bargain. It was the damn card that wasn’t working.
Part of me thinks I should have taken a seat and let the driver try and toss me off. But I know that would have just inconvenienced a whole bunch of people and caused me a whole lot of grief if things had escalated. There's a difference between sticking to your guns and being an idiot.
I did the right thing for the wrong reason. I was motivated more by shame than by a desire to make the best of a rotten situation.
I’ve been riding the bus for the last week now without incident. I haven’t seen that driver yet, but I suppose he’ll show his ugly mug sooner or later.
Screw him and his extended family. I belong on the X27 and no one’s going to keep me off.