What I Hated the Least Today 140/365: Ticket Collector


*In this post nothing happens.*

My country’s public transport operates on a self-service system which places responsibility and trust in the hands of travellers. The passenger is required to procure a ticket prior to getting on the vehicle and then punch it in a mechanical device placed in vehicles. This operational plan is conductive to creating blind passengers, wilfully so or otherwise. (Not blind passengers as of blinded by punching their eye instead of their ticket but blind passengers as of seeing passengers who don’t see the need to have a ticket.)

I stopped indulging in the sports of trying to obtain a free ride and hoping to get away with it at the wrong moment. It was precisely at the point when I learned to recognise reliably, at the distance of twenty meters and more, all ticket collectors on duty in my city. Ticket collectors are devised as the controlling mechanism – they occasionally materialise on buses and trams and demand to see your ticket. (I usually tell them I’ll show you mine if you show me yours since I’ve noticed the ticket collectors also punch their tickets.)

This morning I was waiting for a bus with a senior ticket collector waiting alongside. He is the longest-serving public harassment official to my knowledge and I can always tell him by his passive-aggressive mien. His hair was horribly mangled, as per usual, but his face, curiously, was still not. I’d expect that ticket collectors get jumped at on the regular by frustrated ticketless citizens, the risks of their jobs matching those of tax and debt collectors.

I climbed on the bus, punched my ticket, taking care not to punch the ticket collector, and shoved my freshly defaced ticket in the man’s face before he even came out as the public enemy. I think I blew his cover. The bus driver clearly knew his man too, for he punched a button and the bus loudspeakers started to advise the travellers that there was a raid and that they should get their tickets ready for inspection. I applied my ear buds and shut the noise off.


Author: Mara Eastern

I'm a sardonic blogger, snapper, scribbler and rhymer; a virtual space invader who indulges in cheerful negativism, morbid self-deprecation and bleak humour.

29 thoughts

  1. I got caught on the bus once without a ticket, when asked where it was, i said that I had eaten it. Strangely enough, this was the truth, andd even stranger still, I was not fined..
    Nice blog btw


  2. The great fear on public transport is the ticket collector. Its up there with the worlds worst ever jobs. In Japan they don’t have ticket inspectors as they risk the real possibility of being crushed to death by the hugs crowds that ride the trains. I was once on a tram on New Year’s Eve and the driver announced every stop in relation to the pub nearest the stop, it was very entertaining.


    1. Haha, that’s the way to go, announcing stops in terms of what pub you can reach from there! It’s funny, these jobs that someone has to do but everyone hates – and for no good reason on top of it. I still dislike ticket collectors, though I have no reason for it since I always have my ticket valid. The same for police. I can’t stand the look of them though I haven’t done anything…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Imagine, having to have a job like that … or being a meter-maid! A job where everyone more or less ‘hate’ you, but you still have to do it!

    Here, you pay to the bus driver upfront, or show your card. I don’t know how things work back home, anymore … I’ve heard something about paying with your smartphone.


    1. I know that there is an alternative system when you pay the driver upfront – I saw that in operation in Edinburgh and found it inefficient in a way. It takes a while for the driver to cash the fares, even though many people used their transport cards. The smartphone option sounds good – but it’s unreliable here. You can theoretically send a text and get your ticket via text, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out – the other day I saw a ticket collector fining a girl whose mobile ticket arrived only after she got on the bus, which she shouldn’t have, not before she received her ticket. So, she paid for her fare and she got a fine on top of that.

      These jobs that everyone hates are a strange thing – I have no reason to hate collectors of any kind, as I normally have my things in order as they should be, I still hate them. I also always frown at the police, for no reason I could pin down.


      1. Here, you drop the cash in a ‘thing’. You have to have the exact amount, you won’t get any change back. So the driver doesn’t really do anything.

        Next time I go back, I have to try the public transport system to see how it works with the smartphones. 🙂

        Were we to live in some kind of dream world, we wouldn’t need any police or meter maids or collectors 😊. All humans would be good and honest. Heh!


        1. Yes, the same as in Edinburgh, you needed the exact change and you dropped it in a box. The trouble was I didn’t always have change. In a dream world, we wouldn’t need change either 😉


          1. In that box, I think there’s some kind of sensor, so it “knows” that it’s the right amount.

            Yeah, we certainly live in an imperfect world — it would be so much better without human beings. 😆


  4. Haha, well done, I bet you “made his day”!! XD I stopped doing that sort of sports too when I felt I was just too old to continue… Just the other night I was on a night bus which requires a special fare ticket. Would you believe the ticket collectors were waiting outside each door of the bus, came in in twos or threes in each door so as not to let anyone slip by… The whole matter was over in less than two minutes, and they were gone, as nothing ever happened… Weird situation I must say!


    1. We’re growing up, aren’t we 😉 ? I also stopped dodging fares when I decided I was a bit too old for this business. Your story sounds quite scary! I understand why ticket collectors would operate in pairs, but what you describe is a real raid.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. …or maybe it’s just “Zürich”? 😉 They never let an opportunity go by where they could snatch money away from people 😉 Yes, we’re growing up… at least I try not to tut-tut when a youngster next to me has no ticket as I know I was just like him lol


        1. Haha, I know, right, I try not to tut-tut at young people because I was young too and just the same, but sometimes an eyebrow is raised on my part 😮 I think that it’s only lack of workforce that prevents the ticket collectors to operate in groups on such a large scale as you describe. We have a very diligent police force though, they are very keen on distributing parking tickets for wrong parking. Since I don’t have a car, it doesn’t bother me too much now.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah right, the raised eyebrow 😀 Or the pursed lip maybe as well 😉 We’re so bad… lol Oh really, over there as well? I’m not aware of it her in the city as I don’t drive here anymore, but out in the countryside they would wait behind walls, hidden for you not to see them, to attack your car if you dared leaving without a parking ticket… I’m not kidding you! Maybe they didn’t have much to do and were just happy about any “job” they could gather… :-/


          2. Oh dear… I see it’s the same everywhere. A family member works as a traffic warden, so I know first-hand that they are often actually assigned to monitor places where they know they would catch a lot of people speeding or parking as they shouldn’t. It’s specifically places where, say, the traffic signs are easy to overlook or other places when even good drivers make a mistake.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. We used to have to same system here: old, mechanical machines. Now you can buy these electronic cards or simply just use an app on your phone. I use the app.
    The ticket collectors used to be recognizable and they came in groups, so if you saw 4-5 middle aged people, some of them Norwegians and some of them Pakistanis, waiting for the bus/tram, you knew that they were ticket collectors.
    Now they’ve hired a bunch of new people: young student types to do the job and they’ve increased the number of ticket collector dramatically.
    It used to pay off not to buy a ticket, but now the risk of getting caught is much higher than what it used to be and it’s also more expensive to get caught.


    1. I use an app for the long-distance buses I use for commuting, and it’s great. Unless you got a problem with your phone, such as when the battery goes dead, or the other day when my Anti-Theft locked my phone with a password I had a very hard time to recall. Apparently, this security measure got activated when I had my phone in my bag and incorrect screen unlock PINs were randomly entered as I was running to catch my bus 😮

      Students get the worst jobs. Also academics get the worst jobs 😉 Same here, though, when I was dodging fares, the frequency of inspections wasn’t too high and the fines were not that high either. Now it doesn’t pay off. Also, I’m too old for this shit.


Say what?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.