Being someone who occasionally takes a train to work, I usually experience a scene that’s pretty quiet and uneventful while taking that mode of transportation. Sure, you often people sprinting with laptop bags in tow, trying to catch a train they’re late for. For the most part, however, most people are quiet and behave normally while on the train.
Note the word most.
While the majority of the people are quietly reading, working on a laptop, emailing/websurfing on their smartphones, or even sleeping – some people provide a little bit of flavor to the whole scene. This typically shows up as not-so-personal conversations that adjacent people can hear, or general excitement at the end of a workweek. On occasion, there is some especially unique behavior on display that gives us a snapshot into different ways people handle things – including spending money.
In this 11th edition of the “Squirreling Gone Wild” series, I’ll share some interesting tactics I recently observed one passenger employ in what I believe might have been a deliberate attempt to save money by doing some acting.
When it comes to paying for a ride on this train, there are four primary options:
- Buy a monthly pass
- Buy a 10-ride ticket
- Buy a single ticket at the station
- Buy a single ticket on the train
When the train conductor walks by, he asks “Tickets, Please!” in a loud voice. At that time, most commuters bring out their monthly pass, 10-ride ticket, or pre-paid ticket, and set it out for the conductor to look at or hole punch, depending on ticket type. If someone has no ticket, they buy one at an inflated price from the conductor.
So on the day in question, the guy sitting next to me in the upper level, a much older gentleman, opened his wallet and started fumbling through it looking for what had to be either one of the first 3 options I listed above, or money to buy a ticket. He seemed to quickly assess that he didn’t have one. Then, he sat quietly. A few minutes later, he closed his eyes and leaned over against the window, head slanted to the side and pressed on the window.
Within a few minutes after that, the conductor walked in and asked for tickets, as per usual. “Tickets, Please!” he said.
He made his way through the aisle, then looked at the guy who was sleeping.
“Tickets, Please!” he said while looking right at the guy.
The guy didn’t move. With his eyes closed and head leaning up against the window – away from the aisle – it looked like it would take a persistent effort to wake him up.
“Sir – I need to see your ticket!” exclaimed the conductor, with frustration.
The man didn’t flinch. He looked like he was out cold.
The conductor stared at him for a few seconds, then shook his head as he turned forward, and proceeded down the aisle.
The sleeping guy was never charged. He was going to be riding for free.
After the conductor opened the door to go to the next train car, an interesting thing happened: the sleeping guy woke up! He opened his eyes, and pulled out reading material for the rest of the commute.
Now, call me a cynic in this case, but I have a hard time believing it was a coincidence that he just happened to fall asleep right before the conductor was going to come through, and then woke up very alert just as the conductor left.
It sure looked like he pretended to be asleep to get out of paying!
I immediately thought to myself that I will not feel bad anymore if the conductor happens to accidentally skip me, as has happened before. To me, it looks like there are people that deliberately try to get out of paying by resorting to such crazy schemes.
I don’t support this behavior at all, and wouldn’t ever try something like that. But the way I see it, I reserve the right to laugh at those who actually do such things!
It seemed like something out of Seinfeld, that George could possibly do.
Have you ever seen anybody play games like this to save money? Have YOU ever done anything wacky like this? If so, it’s ok to come clean:)